Japan and shopping

Donut

Completely Average High School Student
Hello everyone! So, in March, my friends and me are in Tokyo for two and a half weeks! I am very excited and we keep adding more and more things to the checklist- we are visiting some places outside of Tokyo, although this trip we won't go everywhere, and someday I want to go back again and go to Kyoto too.

I wondered if anyone else had been, presumably yes, and if so, where are your recommendations food and shopping and everything else wise? Our list keeps growing and growing and I thought it would be fun to ask you guys too! Please shoot me all your suggestions!

Bonus points if you know anywhere for cute clothes, I am such a sucker for nice outfits!

Inevitably we will eat a lot and go drinking, and we are doing the obvious touristy things, but if you know any particular good places or have places you think are a must-do, please add them! I know I'm going to come back with a lot of anime merch too...
 

DragoStark

Brigade Leader
Oh sweet. You're gonna have a blast. I went with my friends for two weeks last August/September. I've also been around March time too. The weather is so much better in March. The heat during the summer in Japan was mind melting.

We stayed in Osaka for the first week and Tokyo for the second (we narrowly missed the hurricanes aha...). My friends all climbed Fuji but I did not. (I don't do well with altitude, at all) I had a blast on my own in Akihabara instead hahaha.

Where about in Tokyo are you going to stay? We stayed a little out of the centre of Shinjuku. Like, a 20 min walk away from the station.
If you're going to do trips outside of Tokyo, I recommend getting the Japan Rail Pass. We got one for a week when we were in Osaka because we travelled to Kyoto as well for day trips (also visited Nara etc) and just paid as we went for Subway tickets when in Tokyo (they're dirt cheap). It's worth the cost if you're going to do a lot of travelling, and also saves time. You can only use the Subway that has JR trains but it might be something worth looking into.

As for places in Tokyo well, the number one place for us weebs is defo Akihabara. You'll need more than one day there. There's so much to see and so many shops. Don't forget to go see the shrine in Akihabara as well. I don't know if you're a Love Live fan, but it's the shrine that was in the show. I personally got a bit emotional when I found it. They also sell cool charms you can't get elsewhere.
Then you got places like Nakano Broadway, Sunshine City, Yoyogi Park. I highly recommend seeing as many shrines as you can in the areas. They're fantastic.

For cute clothes, it's gotta be Harajuku. I would avoid the weekends if you can, I got squashed like a sardine when I visited on a Sunday hahaha.

In regards to food, there aren't places I would really recommend apart from well branded places like Coco Ichibanya. You gotta try it at least once. Honestly all the food in Japan is bangin'. We found a sweet little diner close to our place that became the go to when we couldn't find somewhere else. There are so many restaurants, just have a look at their menus and go for it. You can't really go wrong. We also pre-booked a time at the Pokemon Cafe. WORTH.

Shoot me a DM if you want more info and stuff. It wasn't that long ago that I went. I might be able to help with specific questions you might have. There was so much we did, it's hard to condense it all into one post haha.
 

Lambadelta

Combat Butler
If your looking for anime while in JP the stores I recommend for the best prices (buying used) is traders, mandarake and bookoff. They are all these stores pretty much deal exclusively with used goods, and their prices are really nice.

There are like 3 traders, 1 bookoff and 1 mandarake in akihabara. So make sure you check them out if your looking for anime.

It took me like 3 days to check out most of the stores in akihabara, and also make sure to check out the arcades for claw machines you can actually win the prizes from, and great arcade games.
 

Adam-M

Thousand Master
I'm looking at going back again April next year, starting off at the bottom (maybe Nagasaki) and working up towards Hokkaido.

First things first, Akihabara is incredibly overrated. I'm sure it used to be different but now there's a lot more commercialism than there was. Like for example big name stores taking over the smaller ones (like over here maybe Forbidden Planet buying a small comic shop).
In Akihabara two places to definitely check out are K-Books and the radio tower (both featured in Steins;Gate). Maybe SuperPotato if you're into that kind of thing.
For cute clothes, it's gotta be Harajuku. I would avoid the weekends if you can, I got squashed like a sardine when I visited on a Sunday hahaha.
Harajuku is a decent bet for clothes, but Drago's right about avoiding weekends although the same applies to Akihabara. Unless you like crowds I'd probably hold off until mid-day, but that sort of felt like it was a part of the experience.
Check out Nakano Broadway - it's like Akihabara but without the commercial stuff. It was featured in SSSS.Gridman when Akane and Sho go shopping for Kaiju stuff. One of the people I went to Japan with compared it to Bury market so that should give you an idea of the atmosphere at least.

Character Street is worth seeing just for the eye candy. It's underneath Tokyo Station and is just a load of shops for things like Ghibli, One Piece, Ultraman, Pokemon etc.

If you're into anime soundtracks and you're not gonna be hunting for an OOP CD, then it's probably worth checking out Tower Records in Shinjuku. Take your passport with you and if you spend over 5000 yen I think it is then you can claim a refund on the tax. That applies to most places as I recall.

As far as food goes, the best place I went was a little family run place in Kyoto which was pretty much a cafe. In Tokyo you'll find that a lot of the cuisine there is more European, like French and Italian. We stuck to the Japanese places though and just went for wherever looked nice and it usually was. Had to try out McDonalds for the Misu Pork burger, and on the last night we went to Dominos for a snowcrab pizza. That aside, most places have a display on the outside of what their dishes look like. Just have a play and enjoy.

One of the best phone apps we had was Japan Travel - its got a route planner to help you get about which shows you the train and bus times etc. If you end up getting a JR Rail pass then you can filter the results to include only valid trains. Was surprisingly helpful.

@Donut - you'll have a good time anyway but don't forget to take photos for everyone :)
 

st_owly (witch)

Time-Traveller
Yeah, go to Harajuku during the weekdays, it'll be marginally less busy. I liked Akihabara, don't go to the Sega arcades though, there's one called Hirose between Sega 2 and 3 which has pretty much all the same games for cheaper. I also liked Ikebukuro, Sunshine City is good for shopping and there's an Animate there too (though the one in Akihabara is bigger). There's a KBooks over the road from the Ikebukuro Animate, which is awesome for second hand merch. Book-Off also carries second hand merch (mostly keychains). There's a big one in Shinjuku, and a Kinokuniya for new books/magazines. There's a few second hand figure shops under the railway bridge at Ikebukuro (I think, it might be Akihabara I'm remembering) which are pretty reasonably priced. You can get crane game figures for about ¥1500 there and it's much less stressful than trying to win them. Don't even bother going into the anime goods on Takeshita-dori (street in picture, it's on the first floor above an underwear shop), it's solely there to rip off tourists and is about 2-3x the price of anywhere else...

Get a Suica card for travelling around Tokyo if you don't get a JR pass. It's a rechargeable smart card and you can use it to pay at konbinis and some other shops as well, and it works on the private railways, subways as well as JR. What we did is get a week's JR pass, and activated it the day we took the Shinkansen to Kyoto, and the week before that when we were just going around Tokyo just used the Suica card. Our apartment was on a subway line rather than JR so it was super useful. You can order them online in advance or buy them from the machines at Narita airport which is well worth doing as it makes the Narita Express half the price of buying a normal ticket.

Sorry for the essay, but definitely happy to chat!
 

Donut

Completely Average High School Student
Thank you everyone for the replies!! I'm going to get my notebook and note down all the recommendations, I'm so excited and also grateful for your help and suggestions!

Oh sweet. You're gonna have a blast. I went with my friends for two weeks last August/September. I've also been around March time too. The weather is so much better in March. The heat during the summer in Japan was mind melting.

We stayed in Osaka for the first week and Tokyo for the second (we narrowly missed the hurricanes aha...). My friends all climbed Fuji but I did not. (I don't do well with altitude, at all) I had a blast on my own in Akihabara instead hahaha.

Where about in Tokyo are you going to stay? We stayed a little out of the centre of Shinjuku. Like, a 20 min walk away from the station.
If you're going to do trips outside of Tokyo, I recommend getting the Japan Rail Pass. We got one for a week when we were in Osaka because we travelled to Kyoto as well for day trips (also visited Nara etc) and just paid as we went for Subway tickets when in Tokyo (they're dirt cheap). It's worth the cost if you're going to do a lot of travelling, and also saves time. You can only use the Subway that has JR trains but it might be something worth looking into.

As for places in Tokyo well, the number one place for us weebs is defo Akihabara. You'll need more than one day there. There's so much to see and so many shops. Don't forget to go see the shrine in Akihabara as well. I don't know if you're a Love Live fan, but it's the shrine that was in the show. I personally got a bit emotional when I found it. They also sell cool charms you can't get elsewhere.
Then you got places like Nakano Broadway, Sunshine City, Yoyogi Park. I highly recommend seeing as many shrines as you can in the areas. They're fantastic.

For cute clothes, it's gotta be Harajuku. I would avoid the weekends if you can, I got squashed like a sardine when I visited on a Sunday hahaha.

In regards to food, there aren't places I would really recommend apart from well branded places like Coco Ichibanya. You gotta try it at least once. Honestly all the food in Japan is bangin'. We found a sweet little diner close to our place that became the go to when we couldn't find somewhere else. There are so many restaurants, just have a look at their menus and go for it. You can't really go wrong. We also pre-booked a time at the Pokemon Cafe. WORTH.

Shoot me a DM if you want more info and stuff. It wasn't that long ago that I went. I might be able to help with specific questions you might have. There was so much we did, it's hard to condense it all into one post haha.
Thank you- honestly I'm so excited and it's all I can think about! thank you for al the suggestions- I think I'd also get emotional at the Love Live shrine! Our hostel is within walking distance of Akihabara and right by a conbini! Have been recommended Nakano Broadway and I'm gonna research the other ones! Shrine visits sound so comfy as well!

I will take your note of Harujuku and when it's busy! Coco for curry, curry is so good, yes please! Thank you very much, I'm gonna add this all to the notebook!

If your looking for anime while in JP the stores I recommend for the best prices (buying used) is traders, mandarake and bookoff. They are all these stores pretty much deal exclusively with used goods, and their prices are really nice.

There are like 3 traders, 1 bookoff and 1 mandarake in akihabara. So make sure you check them out if your looking for anime.

It took me like 3 days to check out most of the stores in akihabara, and also make sure to check out the arcades for claw machines you can actually win the prizes from, and great arcade games.
Ah, useful, thank you Lamby! I'll keep a good eye out! I'm glad our hostel is close because I want to spend time exploring for sure!

I'm looking at going back again April next year, starting off at the bottom (maybe Nagasaki) and working up towards Hokkaido.

First things first, Akihabara is incredibly overrated. I'm sure it used to be different but now there's a lot more commercialism than there was. Like for example big name stores taking over the smaller ones (like over here maybe Forbidden Planet buying a small comic shop).
In Akihabara two places to definitely check out are K-Books and the radio tower (both featured in Steins;Gate). Maybe SuperPotato if you're into that kind of thing.

Harajuku is a decent bet for clothes, but Drago's right about avoiding weekends although the same applies to Akihabara. Unless you like crowds I'd probably hold off until mid-day, but that sort of felt like it was a part of the experience.
Check out Nakano Broadway - it's like Akihabara but without the commercial stuff. It was featured in SSSS.Gridman when Akane and Sho go shopping for Kaiju stuff. One of the people I went to Japan with compared it to Bury market so that should give you an idea of the atmosphere at least.

Character Street is worth seeing just for the eye candy. It's underneath Tokyo Station and is just a load of shops for things like Ghibli, One Piece, Ultraman, Pokemon etc.

If you're into anime soundtracks and you're not gonna be hunting for an OOP CD, then it's probably worth checking out Tower Records in Shinjuku. Take your passport with you and if you spend over 5000 yen I think it is then you can claim a refund on the tax. That applies to most places as I recall.

As far as food goes, the best place I went was a little family run place in Kyoto which was pretty much a cafe. In Tokyo you'll find that a lot of the cuisine there is more European, like French and Italian. We stuck to the Japanese places though and just went for wherever looked nice and it usually was. Had to try out McDonalds for the Misu Pork burger, and on the last night we went to Dominos for a snowcrab pizza. That aside, most places have a display on the outside of what their dishes look like. Just have a play and enjoy.

One of the best phone apps we had was Japan Travel - its got a route planner to help you get about which shows you the train and bus times etc. If you end up getting a JR Rail pass then you can filter the results to include only valid trains. Was surprisingly helpful.

@Donut - you'll have a good time anyway but don't forget to take photos for everyone :)
Thank you Adam, I'll note these down, too! I'll definitely check out K-books and Radio Tower, I still need to see Stein's Gate 0 let alone read the VN! is Superpotato for potatoes? potatoes are good

Is it bad I'm excited to try Japan Mcdonalds after watching videos of the amazing things like Teriyaki burger and shakashaka?

I promise to take lots of photos, thank you for your contribution! It's very handy to note what everyone's suggesting down ^^

Yeah, go to Harajuku during the weekdays, it'll be marginally less busy. I liked Akihabara, don't go to the Sega arcades though, there's one called Hirose between Sega 2 and 3 which has pretty much all the same games for cheaper. I also liked Ikebukuro, Sunshine City is good for shopping and there's an Animate there too (though the one in Akihabara is bigger). There's a KBooks over the road from the Ikebukuro Animate, which is awesome for second hand merch. Book-Off also carries second hand merch (mostly keychains). There's a big one in Shinjuku, and a Kinokuniya for new books/magazines. There's a few second hand figure shops under the railway bridge at Ikebukuro (I think, it might be Akihabara I'm remembering) which are pretty reasonably priced. You can get crane game figures for about ¥1500 there and it's much less stressful than trying to win them. Don't even bother going into the anime goods on Takeshita-dori (street in picture, it's on the first floor above an underwear shop), it's solely there to rip off tourists and is about 2-3x the price of anywhere else...

Get a Suica card for travelling around Tokyo if you don't get a JR pass. It's a rechargeable smart card and you can use it to pay at konbinis and some other shops as well, and it works on the private railways, subways as well as JR. What we did is get a week's JR pass, and activated it the day we took the Shinkansen to Kyoto, and the week before that when we were just going around Tokyo just used the Suica card. Our apartment was on a subway line rather than JR so it was super useful. You can order them online in advance or buy them from the machines at Narita airport which is well worth doing as it makes the Narita Express half the price of buying a normal ticket.

Sorry for the essay, but definitely happy to chat!
Thank you for the pointers- I'd like to avoid getting ripped off so this is useful and I'll let the others know! I'd realy like to go to Animate as well, noting down your don't go and be careful ones as it's wise to know these! Dumb question but where does one get a JR and a Suica card? thank you!
 

st_owly (witch)

Time-Traveller
Another thing I'd strongly recommend is a mobile Wifi spot. Data in Japan on my UK contract was £5/day for 150MB.... The mobile wifi spot is a little brick with a Japanese sim card which lets you get wifi on your phone/laptop etc. My airbnb came with one but lots of places do them too, and you just return them in a prepaid envelope they supply, when you leave.

Also get yourself a Monzo account if you don't have one already as they don't charge for card transactions in foreign currencies. 7/11 ATMs are everywhere and don't charge a fee to use foreign cards, pretty much every other kind either only accepts Japanese cards or charges a %fee for foreign cards. I can give you a Monzo invite.

Are you male or female with regards to clothes shopping? I can definitely help with that
 

DragoStark

Brigade Leader
Is it bad I'm excited to try Japan Mcdonalds after watching videos of the amazing things like Teriyaki burger and shakashaka?
Absolutely not. We had McDonalds one evening. No shame! I had a Teriyaki burger, was alright! I also tried their KFC too! It's pretty different. Better tbh.
 

Adam-M

Thousand Master
Another thing I'd strongly recommend is a mobile Wifi spot. Data in Japan on my UK contract was £5/day for 150MB.... The mobile wifi spot is a little brick with a Japanese sim card which lets you get wifi on your phone/laptop etc. My airbnb came with one but lots of places do them too, and you just return them in a prepaid envelope they supply, when you leave.
Agreed with this but you've got an option between renting pocket wifi or getting a pre-paid sim.

Japan SIM Cards: Prepaid and Cheap Options for Travel | Tokyo Cheapo

You get places that sell this kind of thing in the airports when you get there so that was our first stop. You can buy the pre-paid SIMs from a convenience store like lawsons or whatever so you really don't need to worry about where to get one. The Pocket Wifi is a little router with a SIM inside with unlimited data, so it pretty much acts as portable hotspot that you and your friends can connect to whilst on the move. It's more expensive than a SIM and has to be returned at the end of your trip.
We didn't get one of those because there were four of us and we intended to separate sometimes meaning only the person carrying it would have access. So two of us went with a pre-paid SIM with a 3GB data cap. It was enough for Google Maps and looking up opening times etc. Something to note with the SIM though, if you're on a contract on your phone then you might be locked to a specific carrier and can't replace the SIM in which case you'd have to go with pocket wifi and just not split up too much.
 

Lambadelta

Combat Butler
I was a tad disappointed the chocolate fries weren't on the menu anymore.

I went to McDonalds a few times, but mostly because it was so damn hot I just wanted to sit down somewhere with strong aircon.
 

cerulean

Hikikomori
I'll second what others have said...

You should head to Harajuku for clothes. Meiji shrine is nearby too, close the entrance to Takeshita Street, definitely worth going there.

You might also consider Shinjuku Golden Gai. Narrow alleyways lined with old izakaya. Nice to just wander about - peering in to establishments if nothing else. Gives you a flavour of an older Japan, sits in stark contrast to the nearby high-rises.

There are BOOK•OFF outlets all over the place, definitely worth visiting a view to get a range of products/prices. As someone else suggested, Sunshine City in Ikebukuro has you covered for all things nerd. There is even a Pokemon Center (MEGATOKYO) there.

In regards to food, I am vegan so I won't bore you - Tokyo is famously poor in that regard. I'll leave food recommendations to the omnivores!

If you're a fan of Studio Ghibli, book tickets to the museum in Mitaka, just West of the city. You will not be dissapointed. It really is a fantastic experience. You have to book in advance, they sell out quick...or at least they did when I went.

It can be quite fun to try and find locations from your favourite anime/manga. Of course, many of the artists live and work in Tokyo, so it naturally becomes a backdrop for their art. Your Name is a good recent example of this. Try putting it in to google, or asking on here, if you have a particular one in mind.

I'd also recommend taking a train out of Tokyo for the day and heading to Kamakura. There are some lovely shrines down that way too, and a very charming seaside town sort of vibe. Kōtoku-in has the giant Buddha statue. It's relatively inexpensive and doesn't take too long (from what I remember) and offers a slight change of pace from the city. I went in August, unbearably hot. You should enjoy your visit without the stifling heat.

But...my final piece of advice. Just get lost. Take a street and see where it leads, soak up the local life. Watch the cats laze about. Peer into the vending machines...Stroll with no plan in mind.

Have a wonderful time!
 

Greboruri

Brigade Leader
I will take your note of Harujuku and when it's busy!
Though people have been saying don't go on the weekends, Sunday is the day you should go to nearby Yoyogi Park. In the very late morning and into the afternoon there's a lot of (sometimes weird and unusual) buskers and the famous rocakabilly dancers right outside the entrance. Last time I went there was for the Sri Lanka festival in late July and Harajuku station wasn't too bad.

For food, I use Tabelog. It's easier to search for the nearest train station and search around until you find something you fancy. Last trip I discovered so many Indian restaurants run by Nepalese ex-pats which were all pretty damn good.

Pretty much what everyone said about shopping, Ikebukuro, Akihabara and Nakano Broadway, depending on what you are after. Do some research before you go. For used stuff, Lashinbang (pretty much everywhere), Book Off in Akihabara etc.

For newer stuff like CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, some figures, games, model kits etc, you may just want to head to the big chain stores, Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara might have what you're looking for.

In terms of rail passes, it may not be beneficial to get one depending on how often you'll be using the shinkansen. Do some rough calcs using Hyperdia and compare with whatever it costs at JTB (or whomever you plan on buying the rail pass from).

In terms of sightseeing, maybe Odaiba if you like Gundam as there is the life sized Unicorn Gundam plus the Gunpla show inside the mall near the Unicorn Gundam. Odaiba also has some striking architecture (and for some reason a replica of the Statue of Liberty), lots of shopping malls and museums. Perfect for a rainy day. I also enjoyed going out to Kamakura, Yokohama Chinatown and surrounds and Asakusa. There's also Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower, however a free alternative is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Decks in Shinjuku. You can even see Mount Fuji on a good day (try a day after it's rained).
 
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st_owly (witch)

Time-Traveller
The Ghibli museum is really good. We got tickets which included a walking tour from the station through the nearby park. I can give you the link to the company we used if you want. They're famously difficult to reserve for foreigners.

A shrimp burger! I don't remember seeing anything like that on the menu! I totally would have given that a go. Next time for sure. I'll look out for it.
It was so good. The outside was a crispy tempura batter and the inside was little shrimps. Wish it was available here!
 

Lambadelta

Combat Butler
next time I go I plan to book tickets for the Eorzea Cafe (This is a FFXIV themed cafe ran by Square Enix). The cafe is pretty annoying to get tickets for unless you book a couple of weeks in advance. If you like final fantasy you should take a look.
 
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