We live in a digital age when everything is done with a scroll and a click. Therefore, the retail scene has been switched towards e-commerce. However, I am expecting people to come back to traditional retail stores more in the near future. I believe that online shopping still cannot replace brick and mortar store experience. Also, we all need to spend less time in front of the computer and instead, go out there, talk to people, touch the products and decide if we want to buy them. With this spirit, we visited Japan with hopes to find some awesome retail stores (for everything but of course especially for stationery products.) And we weren’t disappointed. Japanese people especially love brick and mortar stores and they have stores of all sizes for everything you can imagine. Here are our 6 favorite spots. Feel free to share yours too!
I. Ito-ya in Ginza. Also have other locations throughout the city.
I already wrote a whole post about this store here about its selection of stationery that is out-of-this-world. However, the warning is this store is insanely big (should I call it stationery department store?) you need a plan to walk it or you will get tired after 5 floors.
II. Loft in Shibuya. Also have many locations throughout the city.
I also mentioned their stationery section in my previous post, but just to make it clear: Loft is a big department store and they have way more than just stationery. I find their selection of household items especially charming. Usually I am not a fan of department stores because in the states they are often just filled with too many products that show little curation. However, Loft shows consistency in their selection of products. Almost everything I picked up was made in Japan, has amazing packaging and are displayed beautifully. I imagine this is a perfect place to shop for a new apartment/house when you just move in!
III. Cosme Kitchen in Shibuya. Also have many locations throughout the city.
For the past year I have been paying more attention to health and beauty products that are organic and safe for me. If you are also like me, you will love Cosme Kitchen. A great selection of natural, organic beauty products with lovely display. They carry many Japanese brands and also some foreign brands. Too bad, I couldn’t read and speak Japanese too well to understand more about the Japanese products 🙁
IV. Muji in Yarachuko, the biggest Muji store (in the world!)
We’ve been a fan of Muji because their minimal designs, emphasis on recycling, avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and no-logo or “no-brand” policy. Because they cut cost on traditional marketing/advertising (since they have no brand!) and get rid of any steps in the process that is not necessary, they can offer lower prices for better products. Their products fit just anywhere! This biggest store in Yarachuko has everything you need for your house. Do you know they have washing machines, rice cooker, plants and radio in the store? They even have a section for you to come in, pick a fabric and order a couch! Yes, like IKEA, but kind of.. better 😛 They even have a cafe and a book store in there!
V. Omotesando Neighborhood Small Boutiques
Enough of big stores. If you want some small boutiques, head to Omotesando. This neighborhood is known for some expensive brand names on the main street but what I am interested in are the smaller boutiques around. It was on our way to Omotesando Koffee, a popular coffee shop tucked inside a small street, that we crossed by many pretty boutiques plus saw some beautiful architecture! If you don’t want brand names but some high quality independent labels, here is the place for you. They also have an Onitsuka Tiger store here if you are into an old Japanese brand that has been making some iconic sneakers!
VI. Shimokitazawa Neighborhood Thrift Stores
I’m saving the best for last. This is absolutely my favorite place to shop! Amazing antique and thrift stores selling everything from furniture to clothing plus some small indie brands around. There are also tons of small cafes and restaurants that make our trip to this neighborhood so fun and pleasant. Love it!