Japan is a country where being fashion-forward is a must. The Japanese, Tokyoites in particular, pay serious attention to their appearance. With an emphasis on style, you can only imagine the tiny closet space they would have in their tiny Tokyo apartment, and they still can look fabulous in their cared for, high quality clothes (which a lot of them sell to second-hand stores everyday). Spend a day or two strolling the streets of areas in Tokyo, and you will quickly realise how much attention is paid to looking good. The sheer number of stores to check out is overwhelming. From stores that have perfectly preserved lace from the 1920’s to neon printed 80’s jumpers still looking their best, to the high-end designer labels in mint condition that still has its own Tokyo edge. The three main areas for shopping are: Shibuya, Harajuku and somewhere out of Tokyo is Osaka’s Shinsaibashi. I ended up buying a new suitcase on the last day purely to fit all the extra shopping I didn’t plan to do.
1. For the Self-Expressionist: Takeshita Dori Street, Harajuku.
Harajuku is noted for their eclectic gathering of young, rebellious and flamboyant Japanese trend-setters. The young generation of Japanese have this spirit of self-expression and fashion-forward ideas. It is insanely crowded and has a contagious mix of fashion, style and fun. This street, actually all of this area really has no fashion rules and in this district everything goes. Takeshita-dori street is a street where people can immerse themselves in the sea of small trinket and clothing boutique abundance.
2. For the Vintage Lovers: Kinji, Harajuku.
One of the best stores in Harajuku was Kinji. Kinji is a vintage store, and while there’s a few in the chain around, you’re best bet is to head to the one in Harajuku, which sprawls over a huge basement shop on the Jingumae. It is also one of the cheapest vintage stores around as it is more op-shop than boutique, with prices starting as low as 50,000Yen, with the exception of prized possessions like a vintage dior jacket. The store is highly organised with aisles divided into trends and each rack being colour coordinated. There would be a whole rack of just striped tops, or a whole section dedicated to denim. I was in heaven.
3. For the Sneaker Freak: Chapter World, Shibuya-ku.
Sneaker culture is a global phenomena, but go inside Japan’s obsession with kicks and see how the retros and colorways that pop stateside may not be as big everywhere else.The sneaker fashion originated from playing sports, especially in the US. However, in Japan, there is a big gap between sports and fashion. The Japanese like fashion, but they are seldom sport. Detail and style is the most important key to the Japanese. When strolling through the streets of Shibuya, and on the hunt for this specific pair of nikes, we came across a quite packed Chapter World shoe store. Known to be one of Japan’s top 50 Sneaker stores, and has held down the title of “Japan’s hottest sneaker store” for numerous years, it has definitely earned its title. With access to shoes you can’t find anywhere else, even if the shoe is not yet/no longer available, there’s a decent chance you can find it here.
4. For the On-Trenders : Shibuya 109, Shibuya.
Shibuya 109 is a shopping mall for the highly-fashionable and trendy teenagers. The shopping centre spans over 10 floors (8 floors, two basements) crammed with trendy, girly boutiques. The fashion is fast changing of modern Japanese youth clothing. As Japan has so many different cliques, there is a variety of fashionable styles found in Shibuya 109, from lolita to preppy to punk. Be prepared to be overwhelmed, not only by the fashion, but each store blasts loud music to engage customers. Amongst all the female fashion stores, you’ll find a range of cosmetic stores, high end and low end fashion, burger restaurants, delectable desserts, and even highly expensive fruit shops! The building itself is one of those high-rise iconic buildings that you can see when stepping onto Shibuya grounds as it sits on the famous Shibuya pedestrian crossing, and you can’t miss the red 109 sign.
5. My Two Personal Favourites: Store: Comme Ca Ism, Shinjuku & Shopping Mall: Tokyo Dome City, Tokyo.
Comme Ca Ism is a popular Japanese clothing brand, and was my favourite store of all. Comme Ca Ism is all about trendy styles with reasonable prices. However, there’s a catch - high quality but low quantities. Comme Ca Ism selects trends at bargain prices, with the quality being incomparable. It’s a store where all members of the family can shop together resembling a life-style store. The style of the store is very neutral; building on shades of blacks and whites, perfect for staple-wear shopping. Comme Ca Ism has a simple yet chic design that wins the hearts of many fashion lovers. The stylish and chic designs remind me of fashion in Europe, and the prices are relatively reasonable, but the shoes - oh the shoes! They were so affordable in Japan, that I was buying shoes purely because of how cheap they were! A pair of white Nikes they had just got in store were only 4500YEN ($55AUD), so how could I say no to that? If only their range of clothes and shoes online, was as good as what was in store. It’s definitely a store not to miss!
Now Tokyo Dome City was the last stop on our 10 day adventure in Japan and didn't we end it with a bang! We arrived to Tokyo Dome City on the train and walked around knowing that this mall is one up from every other mall. Why? Not because of the choices of stores for men and women, not because the Dome City had a major baseball stadium next to it, but because the shopping mall was not only surrounded, but inside and around the shopping centre was a roller coaster. I can now say I have been to a shopping centre with an architectually designed rollercoaster that has been built in and around it. Not many people can say that! The shopping itself is great, ranging from high-end fashion boutiques with the simple, casual styles that suits everyone, as well as major shoe stores like ABC mart which has all your sports and streetwear shoes at a bargain price. You really could find something for everyone. After we ate, we sat in the courtyard watching people take on the rollercoaster. Whilst having a laugh, we noticed the number of teenagers dressed as anime characters. Maybe it was because it was the month of Halloween, but these costumes weren't just a typical costume, the Japanese, once again, went all out, from the make up to their hair being so tightly pushed back you weren't sure if they had actually dyed their hair fluro yellow or if it was a wig. We were so amazed at the number of people dressed up as characters, and the effort each of them had put in.