You can rarely see young youth walking around in Ginza and Shinjuku. But if you turn your direction to Shibuya and Harajuku, you will be supprised to see all these young student, University student and collage student mostly having their activities in this area.
What to buy Inexpensive shirts, Jewelry, Animal & Characters staffs, stationary etc
What to pay Mainly cash
This store has 5 floors full of EVERY fun and kitschy toy in existence. Each floor is a different theme - action figures, Sanrio; anything and everything from Gloomy Bear to Kubricks. Prices range from cheap buttons and keychains to uber-expensive collectibles and high-tech toys. They do take credit cards. Be warned this place gets downright CROWDED on the weekend, and you might need an extra suitcase just to hold all of the painfully cute things you can't resist.
The "Hello Kitty" phenonomonen dosn't look like it is going to run out of steam in a hurry. The Japansese addiction to the impossibly cutesy is being passed on from one generation to the next.
As an adult male, if you enter a Hello Kitty concession then you will probably be throwing up within seconds.
What I find slightly worrying is that a corporation dedicated to to making lots of money out of young girls will come out with a "corporate mission statement" like this :
Simply stated, Sanrio's mission is to promote what we call "social communication," the sharing of love, respect, caring and friendship. This is the foundation of our business. While all Sanrio items have functional value, from stationery to fashion bags, we think of them first as gifts. Likewise, we view each customer as the giver of a gift, even if it is a special something for herself. The Sanrio product concept provides the opportunity for kids of all ages to share heartfelt feelings with one another through the exchange of a thoughtful, small gift. Every Sanrio product conveys a message of friendship and happiness, and they are appropriate for virtually all gift-giving occasions - birthdays, holidays, thank yous, visits, good grades, graduation; the possibilities are endless!
- what a load of balony as 'Judge Judy' would say,
What to buy The range of items they will stick this silly little pussy and her friends on is endless
As usual, we chanced upon this shop while looking for the water bus from Hammatsucho Station. The tourism guide said it was just an 8 minute walk. However, walking in the rains, we got sidetracked and found the Pokemon Centre which thrilled my boys!
As you can imagine, being fanatics of these famous Japanese animation character and its other products, the cold and the rains have been forgotten and the water bus ride we were supposed to take to Odaiba!
From the seemingly endless supply of Pokemon memorabilia and other amusingly products most of which are not readily available in Australia, being shopaholics, my boys knew what to get! They quickly snapped up a couple of
Nintendo DS styluses of course for their Nintendo DS lite consoles! They had designs showing the different Pokemon characters. They also got a few for their best mates! A pair of them costs around AUD 8.
A couple of 100 yen coins also went inside a machine which dishes out little Pokemon figurines. My youngest was ecstatic to get one of his fave characters PALKIA! (You see you never know what you will get when you push the button!)
What to buy The list of special items abound. It depends on your needs/preferences.
What to pay Prices start from as low as 200 yen for little figures you get from the machines around the shop.
Most people come to Harajuku to shop for clothes and accessories but NOT this tourist!! With 4 jam-packed floors of cuteness, Kiddy Land is the BEST place to toys and character goods! We went to many stores and shopping areas in Japan and we thought this place had the most selection of popular characters, like Snoopy, Totoro, Hello Kitty, Miffy, Doraemon, Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, and Disney. They even had Star Wars lightsaber chopsticks! They had more Ghibli items than the store at the Ghibli Museum! It's a must-stop of anyone who loves these characters.
Going to the Pokemon Center was a pilgrimage of sorts for me. I was a big fan of the original Pokemon animated series when it was just the original 151 and haven't been keeping up with the series or games since then so it was a bit disappointing that most of the items in the store were of the new Pokemon characters. However, they did have some really cute items of Pikachu and some of the more popular original Pokemon. The Pokemon Center has some exclusive items that cannot be found in other stores but it also carries items that we easily found in other places so it helps to know what is already out there. My favorite item I picked up here was a Pikachu pen and small towel wearing Japanese clothing and a cruise-themed one for Yokohama since I was taking a cruise out of Yokohama during this trip.
You don't have to be a kid to enjoy this shop and even if you don't intend to buy anything its still worth a look. The shop is a riot of colour spread out on several floors (I can't remember if it was 5, 6 or 7 floors now) including one floor dedicated entirely to Snoopy. There's Hello Kitty and Domokun as well as collectors toys (Jack Sparrow Blythe doll, anyone?).
What to buy I have to admit I was surprised to see F Cup Cookies being sold here. I'd heard about these on BBC Radio 1 at home and thought I'd buy some (for myself and ebay). These cookies supposedly increase your bust size, which is why I found it odd to find them in a toy shop.
What to pay F Cup cookies were 298 yen for a box of 4. No idea what other things cost though.
Japan + Kawaii = Hello Kitty.
You can probably find something by Sanrio wherever you go in the city but for a real Hello Kitty treat head to the Sanrio Gift Gate in Ikebukuro. The shop is only small but its every little girls dream with the sheer quantity of kawaii.
What to buy I must confess even though I am in my twenties I did buy a little bottle of grape flavoured drink in a cute H.K. bottle. When I bought the drink the girl at the till stuck a little plastic item to the lid that looked like a fan ?!? Random but cute.
A small kiosk selling Snoopy and Peanuts products right inside JR Ueno Station. I think it was located inside the turnstiles in the paid concourse.
What to buy But products labelled as "limited edition" as some products are labelled "Ueno".