Idealist City Guide: TOKYO Shopping and Style

Tokyo, the capital and largest city in Japan, is a wonderful mixture of ancient and modern, trendy and traditional, serene and frenetic. You could spend a year in the city and not see all that this fascinating metropolis has to offer. For style lovers, the city offers a unique array of design showcases, furniture stores and funky home accessory emporiums.

Style Shopping Tokyo


Beautiful wooden pieces

Wood You Like It. This store specialises in sleek, wooden tables, chairs, desks, bookcases and consoles, carved from oak, maple, walnut, cherry and Japanese Ash. You can even order custom-carved pieces to fit in those difficult to furnish spaces. The three-story showroom is a visual delight.

Building Fundamental Furniture. For unique, minimalist, Japanese-style furniture, you can’t beat this store. The sleek, angular tables, bookcases, chairs and sleeping platforms are functional without intruding on the look of your rooms. We particularly like the cube-like bookcases.

Home accessories, crafts and furnishing

Classico. Located near the National Museum of Nature and Science in the northern part of the city, Classico is the place to go for unusual clothing and home accessories, including pottery, driftwood sculpture and even artistically-bound books. Make sure to check out the colourful textiles.

Tokyo Design Centre. Save working all over the city by visiting the Tokyo Design Centre. Here 15 design and furniture companies showcase their products, with wares that range from carved furniture to colourful ceramics to bold textile prints. There’s even an on-site restaurant, so you won’t have to leave when you get hungry. We think the wrought iron accessories by Yoshiyo Kobo are beautiful and love the tiling at Creative Laboratory.

Japanese Traditional Crafts. This Aoyama Square showroom is filled with smaller home decor items (that are much easier to get back home to England.) You’ll find lacquerware, pottery, calligraphy tools (for your desk top?) and baskets. We are particularly intrigued by the bamboo and rice paper lighting fixtures.

Staying Over

Tokyo’s original boutique hotel–Claska–is located in the city’s design district, perfect for home design shopping. Plus, each of the hotel’s 20 guest rooms have been designed and outfitted by a separate local designer. What better way to get a feel for Tokyo style? The project started as a renovation project of an old hotel and the design team now offer home renovation services and create order made furniture and do interior design for shops, restaurants, and offices.

Galleries and Museums

Tokyo is a museum lover’s paradise. The city offers dozens of galleries. Among the best are the Tokyo National Museum, the Mori Art Museum, the Nezu Museum of Asian Art and Idemitsu Museum, known for its ceramics collection.


It’s difficult to get a bad meal in Tokyo. Japanese cuisine is based on the freshest of ingredients and most restaurants put plastic replicas of their menu items in the windows, so you know what you’ll be served even if you don’t speak the language. Don’t be put off by that — it doesn’t mean the food is tacky! Make sure to try yakitori (grilled skewers of chicken), sushi (it’s not like what you’ve had at home), ramen (it’s cheap and delicious) and taiyaki (bean paste wrapped in dough.) The elegant, traditional tea ceremony offers a peek into Japanese culture and makes a nice break from non-stop sightseeing and shopping.

Must-See Things in Town

Don’t leave Tokyo without visiting one or more of the ancient temples, such as the Senso-Ji Temple or the Meiji Shrine. The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a lovely example of the Japanese, manicured style of landscaping and it erupts with white and pink flowers during the spring cherry blossom season. Tokyo Tower lights up the sky and offers dramatic panoramic views and can help you get your bearings in this sprawling city.

How to Visit from London

British Airways, Japan Airlines and ANA all offer non-stop service between London and Tokyo. The flight takes approximately 11.5 hours, and the lowest roundtrip airfare on non-stop flights is around £775. You can save around £250 by changing planes en route.

The least expensive way to travel from Narita Airport to the centre of Tokyo is via one of the two rail lines that call at the airport. The trip takes between 60 and 90 minutes and costs around £25 each way.

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Feature photo (c) and courtesy sepavo / 123RF Stock Photo. All other photos courtesy of respective locations.

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