Category Archives: Specialty

List of English Book stores in Tokyo area

Books Kinokuniya, near Shinjuku South exit 

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If you are looking for a book store with English books, Books Kinokuniya might be your best bet to find what you are looking for. Kinokuniya  is a chain book store in Japan that usually carries a small amount of English books. But this particular store specializes in English books and only has English books. Make sure to check the directions below, there is another Kinokuniya book store out of the east exit. The store near the south exit is the only one that specializes in English books. Their selection was enormous! They had children’s books, magazines, travel books, fiction/non-fiction, etc. The space isn’t as large as a book store in the US, but I felt like I was in a mini Barnes & Noble.
Since all of the books are imported, the price of the books seemed expensive, but still a good place to go if you are in need of books. If you know any other book stores that carries English books, please let us know! – Mai Takahashi, November 2016

Directions: If you have been to Shinjuku, you know how big the station is. From the base, take the Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku station. And then look for the south exit. From that exit, you’ll cross the big intersection and turn left to walk through another part of  Shinjuku station towards Takashimaya.

img_2219There is a walk pass on the 6th floor of Takashimaya to the book store.

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Once you get to Takashimaya 6th floor, follow the signs and you’ll see the book store.

TSUTAYA BOOKS, Daikanyama 

There is a book store in Daikanyama where you can sip your coffee while you look for a book. Tsutaya Books Daikanyama is located in Daikanyama near Ebisu. Tsutaya is a CD/DVD rental chain in Japan that also sells books. The bookstore consists of three interlinked buildings, each having two floors. The first floors have books and there is a Starbucks on the first floor of the third building.


There are seats where you can bring a book to read while you enjoy Starbucks. The store does carry some English books, but not many. If you are looking for a certain title, Books Kinokuniya in Shinjuku might be a better option.

The Interior is so stylish that it is almost worth it to just visit. Don’t forget to check out Spring Valley Brewery while you are in the area. – Mai Takahashi, February 2017

Directions:
To Daikanyama station, take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku, transfer to the Yamanote Line towards Shibuya/Shinagawa to Shibuya, and then transfer again to Tokyu Toyoko Line to Daikanyama. It is also accessible from Ebisu Station. To Ebisu Station, take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku, transfer to the Yamanote line towards Shibuya/Shinagawa to Ebisu station. It’s about a 15 min walk from Ebisu station.

Comments from travelers:

The book store in Daikanyama is amazingly unique and an example of superb architecture by Klein Dytham!! There is also an excellent restaurant next door called the Ivy Place! The food is delicious with a Greek inspired theme. The atmosphere is lovely and it offers three different eating spaces that will accommodate anyone! They have a cafe for more casual dining, a bar area and a formal dining area. I highly recommend it!Amy Gaul, February 2017

BINGOYA, Japanese folk craft shop

img_2165If you are looking for authentic Japanese gifts, BINGOYA, the Japanese folk craft shop is a perfect place to check out. I was looking for a Kokeshi doll and was impressed by their collection.

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This five-story store offers folk crafts from all over Japan. As it is shown in the picture below, they have a variety of items.
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The staff spoke great English and there were signs in English to explain each item. I wouldn’t say some of the products were affordable, but I think the price was reasonable for its authenticity. Every product was beautiful and I wish I could spend much more money. There were some inexpensive items like tatami mat coasters, paper crafts and small toys. A kokeshi doll that I bought was Y2300 without tax and I was very happy with my purchase. I love every detail of my kokeshi. The store is not too far away from Shinjuku station, so if you are looking for a place to visit while you are in Shinjuku, I think it’s worth a visit especially for authentic Japanese gifts to bring home.  – Mai Takahashi, November 2016

BINGOYA, craft shophttp://bingoya.tokyo/
Hours: 10am-7pm, Tuesday-Sunday, Closed on the 3rd Saturday and the following Sunday (except in May, August, November, December).

Directions: I didn’t see any parking lots near by, so I recommend taking the train to the store. The nearby station is Wakamatsu-Kawada on Oedo-Line Subway. From the base, take Ome/Chuo Line to Shinjuku station. Transfer to Oedo-Line Subway. (Exit from West exit and follow the Oedo-line sign. You’ll be getting on Oedo-line from Shinjuku Nishi station.) Take Oedo line to  Wakamatsu-Kawada.
From Wakamatsu-Kawada station, exit from Wakamatsu-Kawada exit and turn right. Walk straight until you reach the store. The store will be on your right.
Make sure to exit from the correct exit at Shinjuku station. You could exit from the South exit to catch Oedo line, but then you have to transfer again at Tocho-mae station. Getting on Oedo-line from Shinjuku-Nishi exit is the key.

 

“The Dirty Dish”

In talking with friends, one told me of a place in Tokyo called The Dirty Dish.  It was supposedly a large Japanese dishware store.  I googled the name and found a few write ups on some blogs, one of which had a phone number I could use to look the place up on the map.  The google street view of the location matched one of the pictures on the blog entry, so I decided to go check the place out.  The actual Japanese name of the store is not known, but the gaijin name of The Dirty Dish stuck due to the warehouse style set up of the store.  It is located about a 90 minute drive or train ride from Yokota in the town of Kawasaki.  If you drive, there are two pay parking lots around the corner from the store that max out at 900 yen, so parking is reasonable.  If you take the train, google maps estimates about a 15-20 minute (1.2km) walk to th store from Musashi-Nakahara Station.  It definitely looks like a warehouse from the street.
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And inside there are racks and racks of dishes.  Cups, mugs, plates, bowls, tea pots, and etceteras of every shape, size, color, and pattern.  There isn’t just blue and white pattern.
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The day I went everything was 40% off the sticker price, but I’m not sure if this is an everyday discount or something that was happening on that day.  Irregardless of the discount, most items are very reasonably priced.  Cash only.  Katie Campbell, April 2016
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Phone: 044-488-4888
Hours: 0900-1700
Website:  http://www.okuno-co.jp/ (Can switch language to English)
Dierctions: GPS for the store:  35.572669, 139.637653
GPS for the two parking areas (across the street from each other):  35.572210, 139.637007

Fukubukuro- New Year’s “lucky bags”

2015-01-01 08.09.13New Year’s Day is the most important Japanese holiday, where many “firsts” are celebrated. Some of these special firsts include; first prayer, first sunrise, and first …SALE! The Japanese phenomenon known as fukubukuro, (orlucky/happy bag”), entails heading to a store on January 1-3 and buying a bag with unknown contents for a set price. The only guarantee is that the bag will be worth more than you paid, sometimes several times more, but it’s a gamble.

If you are a risk taker at heart, you will love this custom! Some stores show the contents of the bags, but most do not, it’s a complete surprise. Opening your lucky bag has all the anticipation of Christmas morning, and possibly some of the disappointment. Was it money well spent, or not?2015-01-02 08.49.17-1

For example, I spent Y3000 for this bag at a kitchen wares store, and this was its contents; a  small roasting pan with rack, frying pan, spatula, “pig” microwave lid, utensil holder, and two fish shaped kitchen sponges. This bag was definitely worth more than what I paid.

 

Head to your nearest mall, specialty store or grocery store January 1-3, to join in the fun. But, beware, if you don’t act fast you’ll miss your chance! Lucky bags are only around while supplies last. Jamie Cowan, December  2015

Shimokitazawa

IMG_4002Be prepared to get pleasantly surprised if you get a chance to visit this small
hipster neighborhood called Shimokitazawa.  This bustling area is full of cheap eateries, gadget shops, vintage clothing, retro furniture and a ton of performance venues.

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This area is a lot of small alleyways waiting to be explored, so take your time and enjoy.  It focuses on second hand stores with a lot of character.  I got 2 great skirts for 800 yen!

The train station divides the area in a northern and southern part, with the north having an edgy, but sophisticated urban touch to it.
Vintage stores, and coffee houses are  found in abundance.  If you see the Canadian flag hanging in an alleyway here, you may have some amazing poutine if that is something you like.

The southern exit  is where the going out scene takes place.  Live music venues, IMG_4004restaurants and bars, tattoo shops, as well as some gaming and arcade centers.

Shimokitazawa is only four minutes from Shibuya station on the Inokashira lines.  Or 7 minutes from shinjuku on the Odakyu line.  Merri Kever, July 2015

Fabric and Craft Stores

Craft Heart Tokai

Located near the Fussa Station, it is on the street level, below the Seiyu parking garage. This store offers a small variety of fabrics, beads, sewing notions, lace, ribbon, etc. For ¥540, you can purchase a membership card for one year. They will give you a form to fill out, and are very helpful with translating. This membership recently gave me %10 off my entire purchase, and I get flyers in the mail that highlight their sales. If you park in the Seiyu parking garage, you can validate your parking by taking your Craft Heart Tokai receipt and parking ticket to the bookstore next door and they will validate it for you.

There is another Craft Heart Tokai in The Mall. If you are headed north on Route 16 for any reason, you can easily stop in and check it out. It’s located on the second floor, towards the middle-back for the building. They have a similar selection of sewing and craft goods.

Yuzawaya, Shinjuku

Located near the Tachikawa Station, this craft/fabric store has a large variety of fabrics and sewing notions. The store is in the Bic Camera Building, the fabrics and sewing notions are on the 7th floor. Other crafts, to include beads, felt, craft paper, etc., are located on the 8th floor. You can purchase a membership card for one year and receive discounts on various fabrics cut from the bolt (¥540). Take the North exit from the Tachikawa Station and use the skywalk to cross traffic. The building has all kinds of electronics and phones for sale at street level. Simply enter the building and head left to the escalator. It will take you all the way up to Yuzawaya. Please see the map below.

Daiso

And let’s not forget the Daiso! It doesn’t have a huge selection of fabrics, but has various sewing notions and small craft items. I was able to find large pieces of felt for only ¥100. It also has beads, buttons, elastic, velco, etc. Often times, you can snag these items for much less at the Daiso than at a craft store.

Joyful Honda

I also wanted to mention that Joyful Honda has a HUGE selection of craft items, but is lacking in the fabric department. Looking for canvas, paint, leather working items, beads, scrabooking, etc, you’ll find it here. The prices are a little high, but you are likely to find what you are looking for.

The IKEA in Tachikawa also has fabric on the bolt, for some trendy home décor prints. Have a different fabric or craft store to share? Please share in the comments below! Michelle Nexon, October 2014.

Don Quijote

photo 1Looking for a unique gift? Or something you can’t find anywhere else? You may find it at a Don Quijote. They have all kinds of goods; cell phone accessories, beauty products, clothing, liquor, car accessories, electronics, etc. They also offer inexpensive seasonal goods, such as Christmas decorations during the winter, and water toys during the summer. The closest location is right across from base on Route 16. Parking is free. The hours are from 9:00 am-5:00 am, and the phone number is 042-539-7611.  For more information, check out their website at: http://www.donki.com/en/. Just take a right out of the terminal gate and you will see it on the left.  Michelle Nexon, July 2014.

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Fujiya Camera – New & Used

Tamra Honchul Fujiya CameraFujiya Camera, located near Nakano station, carries a wide selection of new and used camera bodies, lenses and other gear.  The store is about 70 years old, well staffed, and easy to get to by train on the JR Chuo line heading toward Tokyo.  Small, but jam packed, the store is two stories, with Canon, Sony and other camera types on the first floor and Nikon upstairs.  When my friend and I went there were a number of customers calling in for prices and staff were hurrying around on phones grabbing cameras off the shelf.  Camera’s are rated from A (best quality) through AB+, AB, AB-, B and so on.  Run their webpage through a google translator and click on “common questions” to get a description of these ratings.  You’ll also find an online store with their new and used camera prices so you can do a little research before going.  Webpage: www.fujiya-camera.co.jp.  I did buy a used camera body there and was told that I had 10 days to return it if there was a camera defect.  Also it came with a 6 month repair warranty.  There are no returns on new lenses.  If you go I suggest the following: 1. Do your homework ahead of time and know specifically what you are shopping for.  It would be a good idea to have a print out of the camera/lenses you want that includes a price in dollars so you can compare.  2. Be aware that it is a tightly packed place and not the most kid friendly.  3. Understand how their used cameras are ranked and look the camera over carefully before buying.  You should be able to turn on the camera and check it out or put used lenses onto your camera before purchase.  4. If you buy a used camera body, ask the staff to change the language to English for you.

If you start looking around, there are a number of new and used camera stores all over Tokyo, particularly in Akihabara.  I’ve not shopped at those, so cannot compare stores or prices.  Fujiya Camera is open 10am – 8:30pm.  GPS 35.707473, 139.668425.

sarah straus nakano stationDIRECTIONS: Take the train to Tachikawa.  From Tachikawa take a Chuo line train toward Tokyo.  I would recommend a commuter special rapid if you can catch one as both the rapid and commuter special rapids stop in Nakano.  It is the last major stop before Shinjuku.  When you get off the train, head toward the large, arched sun mall (see photo above).  It is fun to poke around in here too!  But rather than enter the arched Sun mall entrance, turn right and then turn left on the first little side street with the KFC on it.  From here I think we just took the next right and found it. – Sarah Straus, Jan 2014, top photo by Tamra Honchul, Feb 2014.

Comments: A friend and I took her old Canon into Fujiya Camera store for a trade in and she was able to complete the transaction all at once.  While she looked at the camera she was interested in, the guy helping her looked her camera over then offered her an amount for the camera.  It all went smoothly and my friend was able to get some money knocked off the used camera she upgraded to. – Sarah Straus, June 2014.

Kodaira Fish Market

fish market megan millerIf you enjoy a yummy dinner featuring fresh seafood for the main course, the Kodaira Fish Market should be on your list to try. From my understanding, all of their fish comes from the Sea of Japan. It is fresh that day, affordable, and only a fish market by megan miller 1thirty minute drive from the East Gate. Should you decide to buy a whole fish, they will clean it up for you at no extra cost (do remember to translate your request before arriving). They also provide ice free of charge just outside the market. The crabs were still moving when they took them out of the box.  They even had whale meat. It looked like really red thinly sliced tuna meat.  One tip is to bring along an ice chest to store your “catch” for the ride home.  The market is clean and easy to maneuver. An added bonus is the fresh produce market situated next door. They sell a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, plus milk, tofu, and noodles; basically everything you need for a delicious and healthy meal.  Bon appetite!  GPS Coordinates: 35.745028, 139.49109.
fish market by megan miller 2DIRECTIONS:  Turn left out of the East Gate.  Turn right at the 7-11.  Continue to the second stop light at Route 59 and turn left.  This puts you on the road that passes Aeon Mall.  You will pass the mall on your right.  Turn right onto Route 5 aka Shin Oume Highway.  Drive 10 kilometers down Route 5.  You will see the green “VERGER” sign to your left.  Turn left when you see the Verger sign and left again.  Continue straight as you approach the market, it is down a narrow street opening to a parking lot. The day we came, we noticed uniformed parking attendants who help move the cars through the parking lot. Also, the easiest sign to spot is the large green sign that says Verger, which is the fresh produce market adjacent to the fish market (the actual fish market is not exactly visible from the main road). Keep an eye out for these clues or you might miss your entrance. – Megan Miller, October 2013

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Kappabashi Street – Kitchen Town Tokyo

kappabashi 1 sarah strausKappabashi Street in downtown Tokyo between Ueno Park and Asakusa is a great place to go if you are looking for dishes, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, or even restaurant supplies.  You can find things you might want… amazing pieces of pottery, dish sets, tea sets, cookware, aprons and red lanterns.  You can also find things you may not want… podiums for the front of a restaurant, display cases, full chef apparel, expensive shaved ice machines and neon signs.  Here several storefronts are dedicated to fake food – every kind of food you might eat in Japan.  There is a coffee roasters, selling coffee beans but unfortunately no cups of coffee.  There is also a store that sells a huge variety of coffee making machines.  This is such a fun place to browse.  With its covered sidewalks Kappabashi is a good outing even in the rain.  This would be a hard place to bring small children… the stores are bursting with all thing breakable and most of the stores are not stroller friendly – you have to squeeze through narrow isles to see everything.
kappabashi 2 sarah strausDIRECTIONS:  The start of Kappabashi street is located between subway stations Inaricho (G17) and Tawaramachi(G18) on the Ginza line.  The map below shows the length of Kappabashi.  It is also possible to walk here from either Ueno Park or Asakusa.  GPS coordinates for the south end of Kappabashi Street: 35.710489, 139.788224.   – Sarah Straus, July 2013

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Châteraisé Desserts

cbakery-1Just outside the East Gate is Châteraisé Desserts, a small storefront boasting more types of ice cream desserts than I’ve ever seen in one place, as well as an adorable bakery. Very few signs are in English, but you’ll see a number of ice cream sandwiches, ice cream bars, and various other ice cream confections in the outdoor area. It is a great place to go on a hot afternoon if you are hungry for something sweet and feeling adventurous. The ice creams range from ¥100-¥300.  Meanwhile, inside is a veritable wonderland of puddings, pastries, crackers, cakes, and tarts. Many of their items are available individually or in gift sets, ranging anywhere from ¥105 for a pudding, to ¥300-¥800 for a cookie or pastry, to ¥1000-¥4000 for a gift set. They also sell three types of wine to add on if you’re purchasing a gift.  Open daily 9am – 9pm.
DIRECTIONS: Turn right out of the East Gate.  Châteraisé will be on your left after the first light. – Roxanne Ready, May 2013

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Baby Mam/Baby “Bunny” Store (children’s clothes & stuff)

Baby Mam/Baby “Bunny” Store
This is a baby clothes store about a mile from the East Gate. It has a larger selection than the BX at a reasonable price. You can find cute clothing that makes good gifts for babies back in the States as well as baby showers at Yokota. They also carry a wide selection of strollers and car seats. The back wall is full of shoes and socks. You can also buy Japanese diapers and general baby and child gear, like training chopsticks. The selection of girls’ tights is also very good.
DIRECTIONS: Reset your odometer as you turn left out the East Gate. At the second light (0.6km), a “Y” intersection, stay left. When the road ends, turn left. You will pass a large Dorama store on the right just before the Baby Mam store at 1.4km, also on the right. The Bunny store is easily identified by the large rabbit on the sign. 5-130-1 Musashimurayama-shi. GPS: 35.7521, 139.3659. Brian & Kristen Marriott, 2002.  Alexis Roberts, 2007. Directions updated 2011.

Kichijoji Shopping

This area has tons of shops, including: Tokyu, Parco Department Store, Williams-Sonoma, Marui department store, Body Shop, L.L. Bean …  If you find one you think we ought to list here, post a comment.

LOFT
This multi-story shop is a great place to buy a small gift. It’s a drug store! A Kitchijoji by Jenn B 3stationary store! A kitchen store! It has everything but tires, I think. And all of it is uber cool. The paper department has lovely washi and other Japanese traditional arts. See our entry on LOFT in the Shibuya section.
DIRECTIONS: From the central exit of Hachijoji station, look across the plaza to find the opening to Sun Road, an arcaded shopping street. Walk down Sun Road until you reach an intersection with a traffic light. This is Honchoshindo, and it’s at about the mid-point of Sun Road. Turn left on Honchoshindo. Walk past the Coppice department store. Loft is on the left, just before you reach the next traffic light. Hours: 10:30am-8:30pm. (Closing time varies by an hour on certain days.) Tel: 0422-236-210. GPS: 35.7055908, 139.5788847.

Atre
This mall is attached to the Kichijoji station and is far more vast than it first appears. The first floor has a beautiful bakery and other eateries. The lower level has a nice cheap thrill, a chain store called Three Coins. Nearly everything in it costs ¥315, but unlike a ¥100 store, this one has a definite “look.” Kind of West Elm but more feminine. Mall hours: 10am-9pm, although some floors close earlier. Tel.: 0422-221-401.

Village Vanguard
This is a book store with lots of toys and miscellany cramming the aisles. It gets rave reviews. It appears to be right next to Tokyu. Details anyone?

Park Exit of the station
Kichjijoji by Jenn B 2The Marui department store is here as is Yuzawaya, a very large craft store that is said to be a good place to buy Japanese souvenirs. Walk straight out of the station for about a minute, past the glittering pachinko parlors, until you reach a main street called Inokashira Dori.  It’s dominated by Marui, so look for the “OIOI” sign. (The word maru means circle). There’s also a Body Shop, Subway Sandwiches, and L.L. Bean. Continuing on, you will come upon the Inokashira Park—a great place to take your lunch.
Liz Ruskin 2010, photos by Jennifer Bobrowski, July 2013

Main Kichijoji page