Travel Notes: 6D/5N Must-Visit Shopping Spots In Tokyo | CoolJapan

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Ah, Tokyo. With its bustling city streets and quiet neighbourhoods, the central city of Japan has been a bucket list destination for travellers around the globe. From delicious food to unique cultural experiences, there is always fun to be found in every corner of the district. I took a week-long vacation to Tokyo last October and spent at least 80 per cent of the time going to shopping spots in different areas.

Preparing for your trip

We’ve covered the travel details needed to go to Japan in our previous itineraries, but for a brief recap, Malaysian and Singaporean passport holders do not need a Japanese visitor’s visa while Philippine passport holders do.

When it comes to currency, I suggest buying from your home country. Singaporean dollars have a good exchange rate with Japanese yen; however, the same cannot be said for Philippine Peso and Malaysian Ringgit. Call your bank to reserve the amount of Yen you’re buying several weeks before your trip starts. You can also bring along a Mastercard or Visa credit card, but do note that not all establishments accept credit cards. This especially applies to smaller establishments like restaurants or neighbourhood stores.


There are always direct flights to Tokyo available.

Transportation is very convenient in Tokyo. Depending on where your hotel is, taking the regular subway can cost you JPY120/~USD1.10 upwards. If you like the convenience and plan to come back to Japan, I suggest getting a Pasmo card. It costs JPY500/~USD4.59 for a personalised card but you can load it up with at least JPY2000/~USD18.37 to last most of your trip. You could also use the Pasmo card to pay at vending machines and convenience stores like 7/11 and Family Mart. Another card you could get is the Suica card. You could reload these cards at any train station.

If you’re visiting any well-known tourist destinations, I suggest making your reservations online. This will allow you to skip the long lines to buy tickets. Since Tokyo is a very popular city for tourists to visit, waiting to buy your tickets can take several hours. 

Finally, always remember to avail of the tax-free counters when you can. Most stores offer a tax-free discount on purchases amounting to JPY5000/~USD45.94 and above. Bring your passport with you wherever you go so you can opt for this tourist perk.

Day 1: Hello, Tokyo!

Narita Airport, Akihabara and Omurice Curry

I and my companion arrived at Narita Airport a little before noon, so we quickly caught the airport bus to our hotel. Fares depend on which area in Tokyo your hotel is; you can check their routes on their official website. I stayed in Reyado Hotel Kudan, found in Kudanminami. There were two nearby train stations, so transportation wasn’t a problem. After checking in, we decided to have late lunch.

omurice curry

Omurice curry with tempura from 66Cafe.

My first meal in Tokyo was omurice curry from 66 Café, found near the hotel. Meals start at JPY736/~USD6.76. I opted to have one with shrimp tempura. It was a very filling meal with such rich flavours. The restaurant is open from 11AM to 9PM, so it’s the perfect spot for lunch and dinner. I noticed that it’s quite popular among students as well.

Next, we decided to visit Akihabara since it was still very early. Strolling around one of Tokyo’s popular shopping districts is quite an experience even if you don’t plan on buying anything. The streets are lined with restaurants, novelty stores, and more. Seeing the neon lights light up as the sun goes down is an amazing experience. I decided to go into Don Quijote to scope around items I’d like to buy later on. Floors of makeup products, skincare, home goods, and more can be found here.

Akihabara at night

Bright lights and billboards light up Akihabara at night.

We also visited Radio Kaikan for some anime-themed items. Here you can purchase anime figurines from almost every franchise possible. From books to shirts to other collectables, you may get overwhelmed with options. I looked for some Cardcaptor Sakura items I wanted to purchase for my sister and myself. Since I was a little pressed for time, I was unable to find the authentic Star and Sealing Wands. But there’s always next time!

Day 2: Shinjuku Spots

The second day was allotted for visiting Shinjuku. After having some breakfast bought from a nearby convenience store, we headed off to Shinjuku. First stop: Komehyo. Komehyo has several floors filled with secondhand luxury items that range from bags to shoes to clothes. They also have newer stock that comes in brand new. You can find them on the first floor of Komehyo. (P.S. There are more places where you can buy luxury bags in Tokyo.)

For lunch, I suggest visiting Kibouken Shinjuku for some ramen. Hidden in the side streets of Shinjuku, this cosy restaurant can be found in front of one of the exits of Shinjuku-Shanchome station. As it was quite cold and slightly rainy, a bowl of warm ramen warmed me up from the very first spoonful. Prices in this ramen restaurant are at a mid-range point at JPY850/~USD7.81 for a la carte.


You may also spot this guardian overlooking the city while you're here!

Next, head over to the Lumine and Mylord malls. These shopping malls cater to women as a lot of trendy clothes, accessories, and makeup can be found here. This is where I was first able to find bestselling brands like Excel, Shiseido, and Heroine Make. Fun fact: Heroine Make products were almost always sold out in the other places I visited. Get them where you can!

While you’re in the area, you should definitely head over to the big Uniqlo store found in Shinjuku. Some items can go for over half the price compared to your home country, so do take note of the items you should prioritise. Personally, I bought a long-sleeve Heat Tech undershirt for JPY500/~USD4.59, which is a steal compared to its full price in the Philippines at PHP1000/~USD19.66. There were a lot of tourists buying winter outerwear while I was there, too.

Finally, the Bic Camera store is the place to go to when buying gadgets. From laptops to TVs to cameras, it’s all here. The salespeople are very accommodating and helpful when you approach them with questions about the product or where to find a specific item you’re looking for. A lot of affordable authentic Seiko watches are sneakily displayed around here. You just have to look for them.

We ended the day with dinner at Ikinari Steak House near our hotel. Prices here go from mid- to high-range depending on the dish you order. I got the Hamburg steak, which was very juicy and filling, served on a sizzling plate.

Day 3: Hey, Hachiko!

Tokyo Skytree, Hachiko, Shibuya Crossing, Mega Don Quijote

On the third day of the trip, we had online reservations to visit the Tokyo Skytree. When we arrived, there was a long queue for people waiting to buy tickets. Since we made online reservations, (get all the way to the top through Klook) we were able to skip the wait and immediately headed for the elevators going up. From the viewing deck, you get a 360-degree view of Tokyo. Mt. Fuji also makes an appearance on sunny days.

For lunch, you can dine at the restaurant inside Tokyo Skytree. I opted to go to the food court inside the mall. I got a gyudon rice bowl from BBQ Yakiniku Champion, a stall inside the food court. Meals here start at JPY750/~USD6.89. However, since this is a top tourist destination, seating can be scarce. Buy your food first before looking for a table, especially during the weekends.

From there, head off to Shibuya and visit the loyal Hachiko. Line up for your turn at taking a photo with him, as there are a lot of other people also waiting for the opportunity. Afterwards, it’s time to cross the infamous Shibuya intersection. Sadly, I didn’t get the opportunity to do so as there were simply too many people to get a clear shot.

While you’re in Shibuya, you should pay a visit to Mega Don Quijote, the biggest Don Quijote branch in Tokyo. I mostly stuck to snacks such as Kitkats in Japan-exclusive flavours, some cup noodles unavailable in the Philippines, and Meiji dark chocolates for my sweet tooth. A fun find in Mega Don Quijote was their luxury bags. While there were secondhand items, they also have luxury bags that were brand new. You should spend some time checking out their display; you might find your new everyday purse here… as well as a special occasion bag, perhaps?

While you’re inside Mega Don Quijote, pick up some prepackaged meals for dinner. A big meal fit for three people goes from JPY700/~USD6.43 here, while some individually packed meals can be purchased for around JPY500/~USD4.59. Heat it up inside the microwave and you’ll have a warm and affordable dinner that’s still very delicious.

Day 4: Back to Akihabara

Maidreamin Café, Bic Camera, Don Quijote, Radio Kaikan

It seems visiting a maid café would be a rite of passage for tourists in Tokyo. We had brunch at Maidreamin Café in Heaven’s Gate. We opted for a package of a choice of a meal with drinks or dessert and a live show. You can stay for two hours, which is just enough time to savour your meal and enjoy the show. However, if you’re not the type who’s enamoured by such experiences, you can go for other themed restaurants like a dog café where you can play with dogs after your meal.

Cute food art

Left: A Hamburg steak formed into a bear. Right: a very cute and yummy strawberry parfait.

If you missed out on buying some items, you can go back to the shops. As mentioned before, Don Quijote has a luxury bags section and makeup. Meanwhile, Radio Kaiken has everything an anime enthusiast would want, and Bic Camera is a techie’s dream. Fun fact: you can get authentic Anello bags from Bic Camera!

Japanese fried chicken

Crispy fried chicken, anyone?

For dinner, head over to Ramen Hidakaya Restaurant. This budget-friendly restaurant has big servings of food. You could get ramen or other noodle dishes for ~JPY1100/~USD10.11. I opted for their fried chicken with rice, which was really crispy and juicy. I paid JPY980/~USD9 for my meal.

Day 5: Shinjuku, Take 2!

MUJI and Robot Restaurant

Shinjuku is another area that you just have to keep going back to. This time around, head over to the MUJI store for some stationery finds. From their best-selling pens to everyday household items, you’ll definitely make a purchase here. If you haven’t eaten breakfast yet, opt for a brunch in their café. A main dish with three sides will cost you JPY1100/~USD10.11 per person but you can customise your meal to your preference.

Robot show

One of the amazing robots used in the show.

Next, experience the action-packed lights show at the Robot Restaurant. At the time of my visit, they had a special Halloween segment for the month of October. It’s entertaining with its combination of lights, music, and technology that’s very reminiscent of Japanese animes. The moving robots and instrumentals all create an immersive experience for the viewer. The best part is you can bring out your phone and record the entire show. Some of the performers will even look at the camera to smile and wave during the performance.

Day 6: Fresh Sushi and Lolita Fashion

Tsukiji Fish Market and Harajuku

Opt for an onigiri from a nearby 7/11 before you visit the Tsukiji Fish Market for some fresh sushi. Just meander through the winding streets of Tsukiji Fish Market and find a stall that tickles your tastebuds. I went for some tamagoyaki, sashimi, and sushi — all from different stalls. The tamagoyaki was JPY100/~USD0.92 and the sashimi and sushi start at JPY1000/~USD9.19. The fresh sashimi melts in your mouth, it’s a moment you should definitely savour as much as you can.

Sushi stall

A humble sushi stall in Tsukiji Fish Market with the freshest sashimi I've ever tasted.

After brunch, we hopped on a train heading towards Harajuku. Known for its bustling fashion culture, there were so many shops selling trendy clothing for JPY1000/~USD9.19. If you’re interested in buying some Lolita-style clothing, visit shops like Angelic Pretty (for a sweet Lolita aesthetic) and Alice and the Pirates (for a more gothic look).


Stopped for some tonkatsu in Harajuku.

We had a late lunch in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant named Tonkatsu Shotaro. The perfectly fried katsu, rice, vegetables, and miso soup was the perfect way to rest from our day’s activities. After polishing off our meal (which starts at JPY980/~USD9), we headed off to shop at the Daiso store down the street.

In Daiso, you can find items for as low as JPY110/~USD1.01. From soft makeup brushes to facial masks to yummy snacks, you could get a lot for JPY3000/~USD27.56. If you’re looking to buy some souvenirs, there are some quirky finds just hiding in the shelves of Daiso.

Day 7: One Last Hurrah

Yasukuni Jinja Shrine

We took it easy for our last day in Tokyo. Right in front of our hotel was the Yasukuni Jinja Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Japanese fallen warriors. Established by Emperor Meiji in 1869, it’s currently celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Before entering the temple, we washed our hands and mouth with the cold water from the well found at the left of the temple gates. Upon entering the shrine, you are no longer allowed to take pictures. Toss a coin as an offering along with your prayer. For a proper ritual, you could ask the shrine guards for some guidance or observe what the locals do before your turn.

Final Thoughts

And that’s it for my Tokyo trip. It was certainly interesting to see how the Japanese live in Tokyo. It was both fast-paced yet also had a serene atmosphere at any time of the day. They embody courtesy and politeness to everyone, whether you may be a tourist or a local. I would definitely go back again to see more of the cultural sites found in Japan.

For a real culture trip, read about the places to visit in Osaka.