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A 30 something blogging about her love affair with Fashion.....among other things!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Best place to shop in Japan (Tokyo/ Yokohama)

 When I moved back to Japan, I created this blog to talk about my fashion life here. However, I realised that I am not really doing any of it. I talk more about me and less about fashion life in Japan. That is why I decided the following posts will deal only about shopping in Japan.

Today, I will talk about my favorite places to shop in Tokyo, Yokohama area. This post maybe long, so bear with me.


 My best friend showed me the Spanish brand. And I have been hooked ever since. I am 1.68m, and weigh 60 kilos (one a good day). I have wide hips and a big bottom. Therefore it was always hard for me to find pants my size in Japan. (If you dont' have no idea what Japanese women look like, just think of Lindsay Lohan or Nicole Richie. They-mostly young girls-are petite and weigh around 48 kilos.)Sometimes I had to shop in men's place to find something my size. But this stopped when I discovered Zara. Before going to live in the States, almost all my pants were from Zara. The first pants I bought there were black and super comfy without being too casual. I dress them down and up, sometimes to go to school, sometimes for big events such as weddings. They were my favorite pants of all time until I put in my washing machine and had it stolen (my washing machine was outside because my flat was too small). I almost cried.
What I like about Zara pants is that they are in my size no matter how fat I get. And I like the cut and the material. Moreover, if they were too long you could have them altered for a 1000 yen more. Zara is also affordable compared to other places in Japan. A pair of pants will set you back to 3900 Yen and 1500 Yen  if it is on sale.
However Zara is much more than pants. Everything else is quite good as well. The only thing I heard was not good were the shoes. My friends-(until now, I have never purchased shoes at Zara) complained that the soles were not strong enough. But then I realized that they were wearing those shoes around the clock so it is quite obvious that they would be ruined.
My favorite Zara places to shop are Shibuya and Harajuku. I like how the shops are organized. You usually have the pricey and classy stuff on the lower floor and the TRF or Zara basic (younger crowd) on the 2nd floor. And the rest is reserved for men and kids. Now that I live in Yokohama I only check the shops on Motomachi, Marui and Queen's tower. They are way smaller but I can always find something interesting.

Things  I recently bought at Zara:

                                                          TRF funky pants Y690-the funkiest pants I ever owned

                                           they look like leggings or leg warmers at the ankle

                                                           Zara striped flats Y990


I always wanted to shop in H&M but they did not have any in Japan 4 years ago, and none in Houston as well. So imagine how surprised I was to discovered one shop in Minato Mirai Landmark Tower the first week I was back here. I was so happy. I have to confess that it is the only place I check now. I like H&M for their design, size and also price. If you read my other blog you would learn that I went on a shopping spree there just after the holidays and got more than 10 beautiful items for less than Y10.000. I have not worn them yet for some of them are for Spring and Summer but I cannot wait. H&M is also great for kids.

Next thing I want to get from H&M

Colorful striped one piece Y3900


I was never really attracted to Gap until I saw their commercial on TV. It was so cute and entertaining that I could not resist checking their shop. And like Zara and H&M, I can often find my size in Gap when it comes to pants and skirts. Unlike those other brands, they do not have many things on sale but I always check their sale rack. It always has something I like. I also deplore the fact that their shoes are on the small side no matter how pretty they are. But I enjoy walking in a Gap store particularly during the holiday season. Their displays is so cute.

One of the Gap commercials I love: the khaki boyfriend trousers with Claire Danes


When you think look for less, think Shimamura. Ever since I discovered this shop during my uni years, I have been a loyal customer. Not only do they have my size (and bigger) but their prices are unbeatable. It is cheap but that does not necessarily mean that it is of bad quality. I would say that it is of lower quality.
I did go wild this year with Shimamura by buying 3 jumpsuits and other things (check my blog to know what items). I even went there today and scored some jeweled flats (in black) and a nice beaded necklace. I also saw some cute bags in camel ( I have an obsession with things camel and will do a post on my other blog in the following weeks) but did not buy them. I am saving them for later....The best thing I bought from Shimamura is my Bottega Veneta inspired weaved shoulder bag. Obviously it is a fake (I did not even know that it was an imitation when I bought, I just liked the design), but it is so beautiful that I always get compliments on it whenever I use it.

                                                             The "Fake" Bottega Veneta

Harajuku Takeshita Dori

This is the most famous street in Tokyo for fashion nuts. You can see people wearing weird costumes walking just like it was another day out. But what I love the most about the street are the little shops that sell interesting things sometimes for nothing. I found this cute Camel clutch for Y500 there more than ten years ago and I still use it. They also have vintage stores that I find a bit overpriced but interesting to check. It is always a pleasure to walk there even if I do not buy a single thing. Sometimes I just wished that I could live close by. Another good thing about Harajuku is that now it has all the brands I named earlier in the same vicinity. So even if you do not find something you like in Takeshita dori (which I seriously doubt), you can always check Zara or Forever 21 less than a block away. 

Recycling shops

I do not mean vintage or thrift stores but recycling shops. In Japan, there are many recycling shops where you can find practically anything. During my uni years there were many I checked on a regular basis. I lived in an university town with many other students who had to move from dormitories to apartements. For this reason, they were often parting with things they did not need by giving it to friends or leaving it in the garbage. However since in Japan, it is against the law to throw big things such as furniture, they were forced to give them (or sell them) to recycling shops. The later would resell it for a reasonable price. I got several things from recycling shops: sofa, wicker bedside table, lamp, sports machine, TV(although it was a gift from my hubby-then boyfriend). However, sometimes I could score nice clothes and accessories. I particularly enjoyed checking the accessories such as bag, belt and brooch. They were always so unique and cute. One place that is quite popular to check is Hard Off.
Thrift stores are also great but my experience is that they can be overpriced. So I never really shopped there until today. I scored a dolman sweater (I previously looked everywhere for the same thing without success) and a tee shirt with a zeebra on it for less than a Y1000 at Fam's Market, a thrift store that opened less than 6 months ago in my town. I also had my eye on a red Burberry trench for Y12.000. If only it was my size.

Daiso 100 Yen Store

Like its name would indicate, everything is 100 yen in the shop-well almost everything. The one I particularly like is located in a busy "mall" called Isezaki. The Daiso there has 5 floors. You can find almost anything in Daiso from food to dinnerware, kitchenware, accessories, toys, Japanese small souvenirs. It is such a pleasure going there. I can easily spend 4 hours just looking and admiring. I scored rainboots for my baby there (although they were Y400) and an entire set of dinnerware. And I am looking forward to buy a tote called coating tote there (it is Y1500)

Info about the shops

Zara Japan

H&M Japan

Gap Japan


Hard Off

Daiso 100 yen store

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