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Top Japanese places to visit in London

Top Japanese places to visit in London In this post we have collected our top Japanese places to visit in London. The city has so many places that are connected to Japan in one way or another. In our top Read more

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shopping

Top Japanese places to visit in London

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London

Top Japanese places to visit in London

In this post we have collected our top Japanese places to visit in London. The city has so many places that are connected to Japan in one way or another. In our top list we’ve tried to cover a mixture of different types of places that have some connection to Japan or Japanese culture. We know that there are a lot of Japanese restaurants in London, but since we are not based in London we have not really been able to visit many of them to give our opinions about them. While visiting London we always try to find time to visit a few of the locations below. If you are short on time, we recommend visiting Japan Centre, Umai and JP Books which are all in a very close walking distance to each other.

Japan Centre

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan centre

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan centre whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan centre

Japan Centre has a big selection of Japanese groceries. What you can find is ready to go fresh meals, snacks, and ingredients so that you can make your own Japanese food at home. They also have sake, stationery, magazines, cooking utensils and more. Our favourite treat that we always take with us from the store are the freshly made mochi balls.
Map | Website

Umai

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London umai

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London umai whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London umai

Situated just outside the Japan Centre is Umei. A great place to grab a quick a typical Japanese street food. We normally buy takoyaki, but other options are available on their menu. After that we normally pop by to JP Books.
Map | Website

JP Books

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London books

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London books whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London books
JP Books is around the corner from the Japan Centre and Umei, on Denman Street. You will find this well-stocked book shop selling lots of Japanese books, stationery, magazines, nick-nacks. It is a great place to pick up the latest CD from your favourite J-pop group, like Perfume.
Map | Website

ArtBox

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London art box
ArtBox is the go-to shop for all things cute and kawaii. In store you can expect to find character goods like Rilakkuma, Pusheen, Gudetama, Hello Kitty and more, stationery, plushies, homeware, and accessories. If you’re after something cute and Japanese, we recommend popping into Artbox to browse. The shop’s exterior has changed since we last visited due to a new location.
Map | Website

Chinatown Bakery

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London chinatown bakery

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London chinatown bakery whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London chinatown bakery
Even though it’s ChinaTown, you can still find some Japanese gems there, like the cute fish-shaped cake TaiYaki. We have such great memories of eating them in Japan, so we were really happy to find them in London. They’re a lot smaller than the Japanese standard size, but that just means you can have more than one.
Map | Website

Muji

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London muji

Muji is a well-known brand in Japan. Thanks to their success they have a lot of international stores. Their style is minimalistic and practical, usually white, grey or wood. Typical items you can find in the store are storage solutions, little notebooks, plastic folders, travel items, cutlery, home fragrance and lots more. Last time we were in store we bought a lovely wooden fruit bowl.
Map | Website

Uniqlo

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London uniqlo

Another store with international success is Uniqlo. They have a wide range of basic clothes of all colours for your wardrobe. The clothes are minimalistic and aesthetic pleasing on the eyes. They reason we started shopping at Uniqlo was their heattech range, which are thin clothes with a special Japanese technology to keep you warm.
Map | Website

Las Vegas Arcade Soho

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London las vegas

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London las vegas whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London las vegas
Not many places outside of Japan house so many fun and exciting Japanese arcade machines. Luckily enough Las Vegas Arcade Soho has a great selection of Japanese arcade games. Some of our favourites being Jubeat, GrooveCoaster, Taiko no Tatsujin and many more. Sometimes there can be queues to the games, but they’re well worth the wait.
Map | Website

JapanCraft Camden Lock

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan craft
Hidden inside Camden Market you will find the little Japan Craft shop. They stock a nice selection of Japanese puzzle boxes, daruma dolls and a small selection of Japanese sweets. Perfect shop to pop into if you are in the Camden area.
Map | Website

Hyper Japan

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London hyper japan christmas market
HyperJapan is a bi-annually event which hosts concerts, demonstrations, lots of independent shops and stalls, selling all things Japanese and Japanese inspired. Check out our full review from our past visit: Hyper Japan Christmas Market
Website

ComicCon

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London

MCM Comic Con London, which is also held twice a year, has a large area dedicated to Japanese inspired goods and food stalls. We have a full review from a past event here: Japan EX MCM Comic Con London
Website

If you have any tips of places in London that we should visit and share with our readers, please comment below. We are always happy to visit and discover new places.

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Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Shopping, Visiting Leave a comment

Best art, crafts and stationery shops in Tokyo

whysojapan tokyo art crafts

Best art, crafts and stationery shops in Tokyo

As a person who love all things art and crafts I’ve hunted down the best shops that I could find during my travels in Tokyo. Here’s a guide to my personal favourites. Depending on what you’re after buying, I’m sure you’ll find it in one of these shops.

Sekaido

whyspjapan sekaido tokyo shinjuku art crafts
This place is heaven for anyone looking for art supplies. They’re located in Shinjuku, very close to the Shinjuku Gyoen garden. There are several floors, and the amount of things they have can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, so make sure you have time to browse, because you don’t wanna rush your visit here. They have everything – everything. Stationery, office supplies, manga, drawing, painting, papers, paintbrushes, sculpturing, clay, fine art materials, frames, paintings, I can go on forever.
Map | http://www.sekaido.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Okadaya

whyspjapan okadaya tokyo shinjuku art crafts
Another paradise, but this shop is more focused on crafts. Again, there are several floors, and the amount of things they have seem endless. You’ll find fabrics, cross stitch, yarn, fake flowers, sewing, buttons… This place is packed with fun stuff. I usually buy some fabric there, because they have really cute patterns. This is also a place you will want a good amount of time to spend there, because there’s so much to see.
Map | http://www.okadaya.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Daiso

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan daiso
This 100 yen shop is great for cheap craft supplies. Their biggest (and most busy) shop is located in Harajuku on Takeshita street, but you can find it elsewhere too, as it is a chain store. You can find little craft projects, needles, bows, ribbons, gift bags, stationery and more. Each item is 100 yen (+tax), so you can really find bargains here.
Map | https://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Kyukyodo

whysojapan kyukyodo tokyo ginza art crafts
If you want to get a hold of more traditional stationery, then Kyukyodo in Ginza is well worth a visit. They have beautiful cards, notepads, stamps, papers and more. This is a new favourite that I recently found, and I’ll be coming back again for sure.
Map | http://www.kyukyodo.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Tokyu Hands

whysojapan tokyu hands tokyo ikebukuro art crafts
If you go to Tokyu Hands in Shibuya you’re in for a very confusing visit, because their shop is three buildings connected together with 8 half floors (times three) and I always get confused when I’m trying to understand where I’ve been and where I haven’t been. Their shop in Ikebukuro is much easier to walk through. The shop itself is amazing, they have so much stuff. You’ll find crafts, stationery, miniature models, wood work, flowers, stamps, washi tape, decorations, art supplies, needle work and more. About half the shop is crafts and hobbies and the other half is for the home.
Map Shibuya | Map Ikebukuro | https://hands.net/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Loft

whysojapan loft tokyo shibuya art crafts
Loft is a department store with a great stationery section. I recommend you visit their shop in Shibuya and go to the bottom floor, where you will find a whole floor of stationery. They have lots of stickers, notebooks, calendars, pens, decotapes, washi tape and more. You can find more craft items on other floors, so check out the floor guide at the entrance or the lifts.
Map Shibuya | Map Ikebukuro | http://www.loft.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Muji


I’ve only been to the Muji store in Shinjuku. They have a very minimalistic design to their products, and you can find quite a lot of stationery there. They have pens and pencils, notepads, organizer boxes, glue, washi tape, notebooks, ring binders and more.
Map | http://www.muji.com/jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Kinokuniya

whysojapan kinokuniya tokyo shinjuku art crafts

You will find their main store in Shinjuku, but you can find them in other areas as well, such as Shibuya. They are famous for having a selection of foreign books, buy my reason for going there are the “mooks” books. Mooks are books about all sorts of crafts, illustrated with step by step photographs, making them very easy to understand even if you can’t read any Japanese. The books are detailed and beautiful. As soon as I found out about these type of books, I’m always on the lookout for them when I visit Japan. I found these three books in the Parco building in Shibuya, bottom floor.
Map Shinjuku | Map Shibuya | https://www.kinokuniya.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Character Street and character shops

whysojapan character street tokyo art crafts

Any of the cute character shops will have cute stationery. There’s one called Gift Gate for the Sanrio characters, but I like the San-X characters more, so I always go to the Rilakkuma Store, where they not only have Rilakkuma, but also Sentimental Circus, Sumikkogurashi and more. If you’re into Hello Kitty or Gudetama, then it’s Gift Gate you should go too. The best place to find all of these characters, and more, is at Character Street at Tokyo Station. They have shops for Tamagotchi, Studio Ghibli (Totoro!), Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, Kapibara san, Miffy and more.
Map | Character Street information

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Akihabara

whysojapan atre1 tokyo akihabara art crafts

I haven’t found much art and craft in Akihabara, but I have found that Atré 1 has a Tokyu Hands section with lots of stationery and Yodobashi Camera has a section of photo albums and washi tapes. If you’re in the area, they might be worth checking out. Next to the Tokyu Hands section in Atré 1, theres a Suica shop, where you can find some very special washi tape and other things featuring the Sucia penguin!

Map Atré 1https://www.atre.co.jp/ | Map Yodobashi Camera | http://www.yodobashi.com/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Do you know of any great places to shop for art, crafts and stationery in Tokyo that I haven’t mentioned in this post? Please share in the comments!

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Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Shopping 2 Comments

Vending machines in Japan

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

Vending machines

Japan has the most amount of vending machines per person in the world. Because of the population of people and there is a very limited, space vending machines are very popular things in Japan. A lot of people on foot and bike use them. Since there is very little crime in Japan it is not that often you will find a vending machine vandalized leaving it out of order, which makes them a great way of selling things to people that are on the move.

You find vending machines everywhere in Tokyo. It seems every small side street, car park and train station will have at least one. Normally it will be a row of them, selling different sorts of drinks.

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

The most common vending machine we have come across while out in Tokyo was the drink ones where you normally find fizzy drinks, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. You will also find a lot of machines that just sell energy drinks too, and then you have the machines that sell warm drinks. Sometimes there will be a machine for each sort of product and in some of them you can find all of the above products in the same machine. The cold drinks are normally marked with a blue colour around the selection button, and the hot drinks would have a red colour around them. Depending on what time of the year is it, the hot drinks might be available more or less.

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

You can also find vending machines that sell hot food, like burger and fries and other fast food styl . Even though I looked for the machines I haven’t been able to find one in Tokyo as of yet. Other machines sell hot pasta noodles, which I’ve seen at a hotel we stayed in. A perfect late snack. And then, of course, there are machines that sell different candies.

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

Other machines that are a bit different can be ones that sell bananas, books and umbrellas, which all can come in handy of course. Machines that sell alcohol have a smart card reader on them that you have to swipe a card to prove your age.

A lot of smaller restaurants use vending machines to sell their food. Normally the machine will just be outside the entrance of the restaurant. On the machine you will find pictures of the different dishes available to buy. You put your money in, choose the dish you want, and then it prints out a ticket that you take in to the restaurant and hand over to the staff to get your food.

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan whysojapan_vending_machines_tokyo_japan_06 whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

You can also use your Suica transport prepaid card to buy stuff. The machines will detect the amount due from your card for you, which comes in handy if you don’t have any other money on you at the time.

Some vending machines even have cameras in them that try to detect what sort of mood you are in and decide what sort of drink would suit that mood.

Do you have any experiences with vending machines in Japan?

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

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Posted on by Paul in Food & snacks 1 Comment

Takeshita Dori – Shopping in Harajuku

Takeshita Dori

Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street in English) is a very famous shopping street in Harajuku. It’s a pedestrian only street and the shops are focused on fashion, Japanese pop culture and young people. The street is about 400 meters long and there are a lot of shops on both sides.

The area

This part of Tokyo is seen as an youthful area. There are a lot of clothes shops with the latest trends in fashion, alternative styles and independent designers. Harajuku has become famous for young people dressed in more fun or alternative fashion styles, such as visual-kei, lolita and cosplay and hanging out on the Jingu bridge and in the Yoyogi park. Takeshita Dori is the place where new trends are tested and where you can spot Harajuku celebrities like Shironuri. It’s also where Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was discovered.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan harajuku station

Shopping

Of course, everyone won’t have the same favourite shops, it depends on your personal taste, but if you like Japanese fashion you’re very likely to find something you like here. You’ve got shop after shop after shop along the street. Some are more expensive, some are cheap. I didn’t have any problems finding clothes that were just as nice as the ones you find in Shibuya 109, but a lot cheaper, the difference being they’re no brand here. But you can also find very famous and more expensive brands too, like Liz Lisa.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan liz lisa

Here’s a list of a few of my favourite shops:

Paris Kids
Cheap and fun jewellery. You’ll find lots of teenagers coming here, because everything is so cheap. I think it’s a set price, 324 yen last time I was there, for each item. You’ll find necklaces, ear rings, bracelets, hair accessories and more. I found lots of nice necklaces that were typical Japanese and Harajuku style. I loved it! You’ll find the shop on your left hand side, if coming from the station, and it’s at the beginning of the street.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan paris kids

Daiso 100 Yen Shop
Daiso is a 100 Yen chain shop. They sell everything and anything, and it’s fun browsing the shop. It’s pretty big, several floors, and you will find beauty products, stationary, sweets, kitchen items, crafts and lots more. A lot of the things are of lower quality, but you can find some great bargains too. Daiso is also located at the left hand side.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan daiso

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan daiso 100 yen

Wonder Rocket
I absolutely love this clothing shop. You’ll recognize it by the mannequins with hare masks. The clothes are very Japanese, I’d say romantic and mori girl would describe their style. Lots of muted earthy tones and pastel colours, lace, ribbons and flowers. I absolutely love just browsing the shop and looking at all the pretty things they have for sale. It’s located on the right hand side, a bit further down on the street.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan wonder rocket

The crepes
Not really a shop, it’s a food stall. Harajuku is famous for it’s delicious crepes, and I dont think it’s possible to walk though Takeshita dori without stopping for a crepe. The queues can be long, but they move pretty fast, and it’s well worth the wait. They have loads of different fillings and I try to remember to try out a new one every time we are there. They’ve got whipped cream, strawberries, mochi, red bean paste, banana, chocolate sauce, ice cream, custard, peach… I could go on forever. Remember to stand to the side or have a sit down while enjoying your crepe, since it’s considered rude to eat and walk in Japan. If you go to the big crepe stand somewhere in the middle of the street on the left hand side, there’s a good area just behind the crepe stand for eating. You’ll probably see it, because that’s where everyone else is sitting or standing.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan crepes

How to get there

Takeshita Dori is located in Harajuku, an area in Shibuya in Tokyo. to get there, take the Yamanote Line to the Harajuku station. There are two exists, the southern exit is closer to the Yoyogi Park and northen exit is closer to Takeshita Dori, and it’s this exit you want to take, because as soon as you’re out of the station, you just have to cross over to the other side of the road, and there you have Takeshita Dori. If you happen to come out the other exit, you walk down the hill to the left until you reach the crossing and then cross the street. It’s very easy to spot Takeshita Dori once you’re close to it, because the entrance has a gate you can’t miss and the street is probably packed with people.





Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Fashion, Food & snacks, Shopping, Visiting Leave a comment

Don Quijote – Japan’s Best Discount Store

whysojapan Don Quijote discount store Donki

Don Quijote

Our first experience with Don Quijote (ドン・キホーテ) was the Kabuki-cho Shinjuku store in Tokyo. It was stocked with goods, floor after floor. On our first trip to Tokyo we must have gone into that particle store almost everyday and we would check out one floor at a time. We found that it was best to visit the shop when it was not so busy, because the shop could get really crowed at certain times of the day. We soon learned that the best times were early in the morning, around 10am, or late at night after 10pm.  Even better was after 12 at night, because the store is open 24/7, which is great. In the store you get to listen to the store’s own theme tune, playing on a loop, called “Miracle Shopping” (ミラクルショッピング?) sung by Maimi Tanaka, who was a store employe.

whysojapan Don Quijote discount store Donki

whysojapan Don Quijote discount store Donki whysojapan Don Quijote discount store Donki

whysojapan Don Quijote discount store Donki

Stores

There are a few other Don Quijote stores that you can visit in Tokyo. One night, while we were walking around in Shinjuku, we found this other Don Quijote. It was late at night, like 12:30am I think, and we just saw loads of neon light and the Don Quijote penguin mascot Donpen. We followed the bright lights to what we decided to call Donki World, just because of the size of this place. It was really big! It was all on one floor, but spread across different buildings, and the best thing was that it was open 24/7 too.

whysojapan Don Quijote discount store Donki
Other Don Quijote stores we have seen or been in: There’s one in Ikebukuro, close to the station. There’s one in Akihabara, which has its own theatre, where the idol group AK48 play daily. We also found a store in Roppongi, which has a half pipe theme ride on the roof. The ride has never been used though, because of complaining neighbours. There is another store with a ride, and its in Osaka. It has a ferris wheel stuck to the outside of the store, which I would love to try sometime. There are a lot more stores to check out, not just in Tokyo, but all over Japan. The best place to check is the website for store listings: http://www.donki.com/index_en.php

What you can buy in store

whysojapan Don Quijote Donki productsI would like to say you can buy everything, because that’s what it seems like when you are browsing the stores hour after hour. But ok, maybe not everything, but almost. Some of the products we have seen are clothing (love buying Japanese Kigurumi in Don Quijote!), everything and anything for mobile phones, cases, batteries, selfiesticks – you name it. There are also lots of cosmetics and beauty products, lots of electrical products – from toasters to instax mini camera (including cheap film for them), and more. The food section is always a great place to look through. Last time we were in the store we bought loads of the Poppin Kitchen DIY sweet boxes at a great price. I could go on and on about all the products they have. We have taken some photos just to show how huge the product range is, which can be seen below.

whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products

whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products fake beard

whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products Daruma Maneki-neko whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products Totoro

whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products

whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products

whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products

whysojapan_Don_Quijote_Donki_products_05 whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products game

whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products whysojapan Don Quijote Donki products

About Don Quijote

Japanese love to shop and one of the biggest and best discount stores you can find throughout Japan, with its 160 stores, is Don Quijote. The stores are also known as Donki, which is a shortening of the company’s name. Don Quijote started off in the 80’s under the name Just Co. with its first retail store opening in Tokyo. Just Co then changed from retail over to wholesale after a couple years of business. The company’s first Don Quijote named store opened in Tokyo 1989, and it was also then the company changed back to focusing on retail again, with the company changing it’s corporate name from Just Co to Don Quijote Co., Ltd in 1998. Don Quijte also operates three stores in Hawaii.





Posted on by Paul in Shopping, Visiting Leave a comment