No.169 (8/13/10)

Favorites from Tokyo

By Keiko H. Johnson
Staff Writer

Living in Tokyo for over 20 years of my life, I cannot deny shopping is one of my favorite things to do. High end department stores with the latest fashion trends sit next to luxury brand boutiques, while discount electronics retailers and clothing shops cram the downtown streets of Tokyo. It is the place where you will definitely find what you hope for, and even though you are not planning on spending money, you will not leave the town empty handed for sure.

Asakusa Nakamise Shopping District
If you are looking for some artistic items from Japan such as, Kimono robes, an Obi, Japanese fans, or anything with arty Japanese goods, you should visit this area by Sensouji Temple in Asakusa. (Take the Toei Asakusa subway from Shinjuku to Asakusa.) At this location, one of the biggest tourist sites in Tokyo, freshly baked Japanese rice crackers and stuffed sweet bean paste pancakes are continuously baked and fill the air with their inviting aromas. Some of the symbolic snacks of Tokyo are sold here in Nakamise shopping ally and will be sure to make great snacks for the road. Besides the roadside snack venders, many traditional EDO Mae (the culinary style that represents traditional downtown Tokyo) restaurants serving authentic Japanese food and sweets are also here to enjoy. The Hato Bus City Tours, which take you to major, sightseeing areas around Tokyo, also begin here.

Akihabara Electronics' District
The Mecca of the latest technology, Akihabara is the place where you pay less on all the latest high tech goods you want. There are numerous amounts of electronics retailers and discount stores in the area. To get there; take the JR Yamanote Line to Akihabara.

Shinjuku (West Exit)
This is one of my favorite places to visit in Tokyo. Takashimaya Times Square: some of the major department stores in Japan; Gap, Uniqlo, ZARA, H&M, as well as other international popular clothing brand boutiques set and create the canvas of this town. Other than the fashion brand boutiques, there are also stores for outdoor lovers. The bike stores in Shinjuku have the finest selections of mountain bikes and road bikes, which strive for the hard earned yen in your wallet. Here are some of the retailers for outdoor goods: el breath, Joker, Murasaki Sports, and Tokyu Hands.

Harajuku Omote Sando Street and Meiji Jingu Shrine
Harajuku is known as the town of youth culture. On the weekends, young people dress up as Anime characters and appear on the Takeshita Street of Harajuku. Takeshita Dori walking ally is a famous shopping ally located right across the street from the JR Harajuku Station. In the center of the city, Meiji Jingu Shrine sets its own spiritual space. The trees surrounding the great shrine’s walking paths to each sacred building are quiet and so peaceful that it is a perfect place to relax and to take a break from the bustle. There is a souvenir store located within the property of the shrine which sells authentic Japanese gift items.

Odaiba Venus Fort
Away from the center of the city, is Odaiba. (Take the Urikamome Line from Toyosu Station on Yuraku Cho subway.) This revolutionary town of Odaiba was built on the filled land at the edge of Tokyo Bay. Venus Fort is the first indoor outlet mall built in Japan. Its elegantly formed interiors and the artificial sky on the ceiling alters images moment by moment and reminds me of one of the shopping malls in Las Vegas. Before you leave this place, check out the popular souvenirs from Odaiba: Odaiba Sable.

This well-known historical town of Tokyo still holds its fame as Tokyo's best shopping district. Most of the popular sweets and fashion are rooted here. Other than those trendy items, Mikimoto Pearl and many other authentic Japanese luxury brands place their boutiques on the main street (Ginza Dori) of this town. One of the most popular sweets among Japanese: Baum Kuchen from Nenrinya, has its store at one of the department stores in Ginza. Other sweets I often purchase (especially when I am visiting my friend) are the chocolate cakes from Tops, and Cigar cookies from Yok Mok

Popular Souvenirs at Tokyo Station
In case you are arriving at Tokyo station empty handed before you head out for Misawa, I am adding two sweets you may be interested in purchasing. Tokyo Banana and Hato Sable from Kamakuraya are the most popular sweets of all times, and they will make a perfect souvenir from Tokyo.

At the end of every trip, we often think of buying souvenirs to take home. There are sweets and other popular souvenirs from Tokyo, but these popular sweets are sure to be found at any major train station or airport without any trouble. So, instead of just talking about the popular sweets of Tokyo, I have introduced some of the shopping districts in Tokyo where you can fulfill your purpose of both sightseeing and shopping, which I think, will makes perfect souvenirs to take home with you when you leave Japan.

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