Thursday, 1 November 2012

Toy Shopping in Tokyo

I have previously written a few articles for the www.japantravelguide.co.uk and I thought it was about time I posted them here as well. Tokyo is a great place to visit and even better if you are a toy collector. Enjoy.
Part One

There are many great toy shops in and around Tokyo, and after years of traveling and searching I have compiled a guide to some of the best around.



Hakuhinkan Toy Park

Location: Ginza, Tokyo
Nearest Stations: Shimbashi or Ginza (about 4 mins walk)

Hakuhinkan was one of the first toy shops I visited in Tokyo as it’s mentioned in pretty much all the guide books. It is by no means the best toy shop, but it’s worth a visit. The first floor contains a nice selection of novelty goods and strange gadgets and that’s where I tend to spend most of my time. The rest of the floors contain a good selection of Japanese and western toys so if you are just looking to get a few toys to bring back for friends and relatives this is a good place to visit.

Yamashiroya

Location: Ueno, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Ueno

Now this really is a great shop, Yamashiroya is spread across many floors it’s absolutely crammed with toys, games, gadgets; you name it, it’s in here somewhere. It contains great selections of both Japanese and western toys, with a nice Transformers and Star Wars selection. It is very hard to go into this shop without spending some money, even if it us just in the Gashapon machines outside.
A strange rule in this shop is that you have to pay for your items on the floor they are found on, so as you move up spending your money, you end up with more and more bags of items you have bought on the floors below.

Monster Japan

Location: Ebisu, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Ebisu

Monster Japan
Monster Japan is a small shop hidden away on the upper floors of building in Ebisu, Tokyo and specialises in American toys and imports. Even though all the toys are imports you can still find a bargain, especially if the exchange rate is good. They have good ranges of Star Wars, Transformers, G.I.Joe, and toys from all the latest movies.

Kiddy Land

Location: Harajuku, Tokyo
Nearest Stations: Meijijingumae, Harajuku 

Kiddyland Harajuku

Don’t let the name fool you, Kiddy Land is not just for kids, although you will find it a really busy place. Spread over seven floors this is a fantastic toy store for everyone.
On each floor you will find a different range of toys from all over the world. They have the largest collection of Snoopy and Peanuts toys I think I have ever seen and a great selection of some of the many cute and cuddly characters from Japans greatest anime cartoons.
Kiddy Land is a chain of stores with shops in other locations in Japan.


Astro Mike

Location: Harajuku, Tokyo
Nearest Stations: Meijijingumae, Harajuku

Astro Mike

Astro Mike is a small toy shop hidden away in the back streets of Harajuku, Tokyo. Although it is only a few square metres in size it is packed floor to ceiling with toys of all kinds. From Smurfs to Star Wars it’s pretty much all in there. The staff have always been really friendly and eager to help which makes it well worth a visit, and it is only a short walk from Kiddyland.

Akihabara

Location: Akihabara, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Akihabara

Although Akihabara is best known for being the electric town selling all known electronics and gadgets, it’s also a great place for the toy collector.
As soon as you exit Akihabara station you are surrounded by shops big and small selling gadgets galore. But in between these you will find plenty of toy shops. Animate have a big store here, but most are small independent stores that come and go. Each time we have visited there have been different stores to find. This is also the best place to go to find Gashapon machines, which are on most corners and outside most stores.

Nakano Broadway

Location: Nakano, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Nakano

Nakano Broadway mall is the location of probably the biggest and best collection of toy and collectable shops in  Tokyo. Located on the second, third and fourth floors it is absolutely crammed with small shops specialising in every kind of collectable toy old and new.
Some of my favourite shops in Nakano are Mandarake and Robot Robot. Mandarake has loads of different shops here each focusing on a different area. The Cosplay shop is worth a look. You can even take your old collectables there to trade in for cash.
It’s easy to spend an entire day here just browsing through the many small shops, each crammed to the brim with stuff.

Sunshine City

Location: Ikebukuro
Nearest Station: Ikebukuro

Sunshine city is one of the best all round shopping malls in Tokyo, we often spend an entire day looking around. On the toy shopping front there is a rather large Toys R Us in the basement that never fails to deliver. It always has a good selection of both Western and Japanese style toys. And some of the pre-school kids toys are so damn cute it’s hard no to get another Doreamon for your collection.
Outside Sunshine City you will find a small row of shops specialising in Manga including Animate and K-Books.

Part Two
An update of my previous guide on the best places to shop in and around Tokyo. If you are looking for Toys or collectables read on.

Toycats Showcase

Location: Horiuchi Building B1, Kichijoji Honcho 1-26-4, Musashino City
Nearest station: Kichijoji

On a recent trip I came across a small shop in a back street in Kichijoji called 'Toy Cats Showcase'.  Located in the basement of a small ordinary looking building the shop is crammed full of toys. The shop specializes in many Japanese toy lines including Microman, and Diaclone but has many other ranges. When I visited he had a good selection of Transformers and is one of the only shops I have seen the has vintage star wars figures. Normally you see lots of modern  Star wars and only vary rarely vintage lines.

Blister

Blister appears to have moved from Harajuku. The shop in Harajuku is currently empty.
The new shop location is listed on their website. I didn’t get  a chance to go there this time, so if anyone does, let me know what it is like.

Yamada Denki - Labi 1

Location:  Ikebukuro
Nearest Station: Ikebukuro on the Yamanoti JR line

Labi1

If you exit the station on the Seibu side you can't miss this huge 7 story building.
Labi 1 is an Electronics and appliance store that opened in October 2009. This store is one of there flagships stores and is packed full of electronics. For the toy collector, head to the 7th floor to see one of the biggest selections of Gun-dam toys and collectables that I have ever seen. The entire floor is full of kits, models, toys, accessories and even clothing.

Bic Camera

Location: all over Tokyo

You can find Bic Camera stores all over Tokyo including Akihabara and Ikebukuro. This is another store that specialises in electronics and gadgets but it also normally has a floor of toys and games. The toys are mainly from the Japanese market, so lots of Gun-dam, Macross, Mask Rider, Pokemon, Power Rangers, etc. They tend to also have the latest range of Transformers. Depending on the exchange rate, the prices are pretty average for Tokyo. Not the cheapest, but by no means the most expensive (Kiddy Land and Hakuhinkan Toy Park are always more expensive than the rest).
If you are after some gifts for your kids this is a great place to check out.

Nakano Broadway

Location: Nakano, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Nakano on the Chuo line from Shinjuku

Nakano as always been one, if not the best place to shop for toys in Tokyo. The amount of shops and variation in what they stock is so great you can pretty much get anything there.
But on our last trip (April 2010) I have to say I was a little disappointed with what was on offer. There are still a large amount of stores, but some of the better ones seem to have gone. This is probably a sign of the economic state of Japan, but it still surprised me how much had disappeared in just over a year.
Even with less shops this is still a great place to shop, so don't forger to visit. Please check my previous article for more info.

Toys R Us

Location: All over Tokyo, Sunshine City, Odiba, Lala port Chiba.

Although you can go to Toys R Us in pretty much every country they are still a good place to check out. The stock such a wide range of toys and tend to have the best prices around.
On the last few trips to Japan I have managed to pick up large quantities of Star Wars toys that they have been selling off cheap.

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