Shopping is an integral part of your travels in Japan. If it isn’t in your itinerary, it should be. You do not, however, need to mindlessly follow the horde of Japanese consumers just for the sake of it. Shopping in Japan can also be as cultural of an experience as is ringing the bell in a Shinto shrine.
Calling itself the “Creative Life Store,” Tokyu Hands is a department store chain that houses multiple floors of stationery, gifts, cooking utilities, home decorations, furniture, gadgets, and super kawaii toys. Wandering around the huge complex, you will quickly realize that apart from providing hours of pleasure and making you miss the last train back to the hotel, Tokyu Hands gives you an insightful glimpse into popular Japanese culture and Japanese ingenuity. Their biggest branch is in Ikebukuro and is well worth the visit. Many of the goods make great gifts to take home, and aren’t expensive. Take a look at their brochure too.
Thanks to the invention of the Internet, you can do some online browsing of the Tokyu Hands merchandise without traveling all the way to Japan. Find something unusual, extremely kawaii, or bemusing? Send in your discoveries as comments for me and the other readers to see! The site is in Japanese, but that just makes it more amusing. Here’s some stuff I ran into when I was there: