13 Best Places to Shop in Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya (plus Enjoy Discounts with UnionPay Cards and Tax Free Shopping)27 November, 2016
Tokyo is a shopping paradise for many, regardless of your gender and age, there is something for everyone. Shopping in Tokyo is not cheap, but using the right credit cards and discount cards coupled with tax-free shopping and credit card rebates, you can save over 13% on your purchases. Let me show you how to achieve these savings and where the best places to shop in Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya are.
Your savings can start even before you fly to Tokyo – here’s how, first apply for a BOC Dual Currency Diamond Card, DBS UnionPay Platinum Debit Card, ICBC UnionPay Dual Currency Credit Card, or the UOB UnionPay Platinum Credit Card
UnionPay cards are accepted for air ticket bookings on Singapore Airlines website and mobile app. Most of the well-known hotels in Tokyo e.g. Mandarin Oriental, Grand Hyatt, Imperial Hotel and Okura Hotel accept payment by UnionPay cards too. All the UnionPay promotions available in Tokyo are applicable to UnionPay cards (card number starting with 62).
Shopping in Shinjuku
- Shinjuku Yodobashi Camera and Electronics Shopping Mall
We stayed at Keio Plaza Hotel at Shinjuku – one of the most happening shopping areas in Tokyo. If you are looking for electronics e.g. cameras, laptops, there is a huge Yodobashi Camera and Electronics shopping mall just a short 6-minute walk away from the hotel.
You can find almost any kind of electronics here – just look at this picture of the Yodobashi Camera and Electronics shopping mall directory – there is a North, South, East building and many other sub-sections selling MacBook, Air-conditioners, Cameras, Smartphones etc. The best part is that UnionPay Cardholders can enjoy 5% off purchases at Yodobashi Camera and Electronics shopping mall (until 31 Mar 2017). Also, if you are spending more than 5400 Yen (about S$70) at Yodobashi, you are also eligible for an 8% tax rebate (issued in cash on the spot) so that works out to a total of 13% in total savings for UnionPay Cardholders! Yodobashi is open daily from 9.30am to 10pm.
- Shinjuku Odakyu Halc – BIC Camera
For more electronics shopping options, check out BIC Camera at Odakyu Halc which has almost 5 floors of BIC Camera shopping from home appliances, video games to mobile phones. UnionPay Cardholders can also enjoy 5% discounts off purchases (until 31 Dec 2016) + 8% tax-free for spending over 5400 Yen – easily achievable since most cameras and home appliances will definitely cost more than that.
Odakyu Halc is so UnionPay-friendly that it even issues an English-Chinese-Korean-Japanese translation guide for “Can I use a China UnionPay card?”! The answer is Yes and this is applicable for all Odakyu properties which covers a large part of the Shinjuku shopping belt.
- Shinjuku Odakyu Mylord
For young women fashion, check out Shinjuku Mylord which has 8 floors of shopping (including 3 floors of restaurants). It also comprises of the “Mosaic Street” – a strip of shops that connects from Shinjuku station to Takashimaya. UnionPay cards are accepted at all shops in Shinjuku Mylord.
- Shinjuku Keio Department Store (Free in-store Wi-Fi available – under Keio-Dept Wi-Fi)
The Keio Department Store is definitely worth a visit – to me, it felt like an older version of Takashimaya. The Keio Department Store has 9 floors – starting from the food and Japanese snacks basement to about 4 floors of women fashion and cosmetics. For me, the most interesting floor is the 7th floor – children’s wear, toys, stationery, books. There is even a model train section where model train enthusiasts pay to run their own trains around the tracks with realistic miniature buildings and landscape!
UnionPay Cardholders enjoy 5% discounts with purchases of 3000 Yen of products from Level 1 to Level 8 – you must also show the coupon below – this promotion is valid till 30 June 2017. If you spend more than 5400 Yen, you also get additional 8% in consumption tax rebates. Proceed to Level 2 foreign customer service desk to claim your 5% discount & any tax rebates by showing your UnionPay card and the coupon below.
Do note that food and promotional items are excluded from the 5% Shinjuku Keio Department Store coupon discount offer. Most of the food items are located at Basement 1 – so are not eligible.
- Shinjuku Takashimaya Times Square (Free in-store Wi-Fi available)
Takashimaya Times Square is about a 10 minute walk from Keio Department Store – you will need to cross a major road crossing from Lumine shopping centre. You might not be able to see Takashimaya immediately after crossing as the JR Shinjuku train station is a more prominent landmark in that area – however, don’t give up – check in with one of the security guards at the train station or one of the Japanese, they should be able to direct you to Takashimaya.
Once you have reached Takashimaya Times Square, don’t be overwhelmed by how big it is (15 floors of shopping!) – go straight to 10th floor Service Counter to collect your Takashimaya Shoppers’ Card. This card offers 5% off for a single purchase of over 3000 Yen before sales tax (i.e. 3240 Yen after tax). You will need to show your passport with the Japan entry permit (pasted onto your passport at the immigration counter).
Takashimaya is known for its branded bags and fashion collection. Just like the Singapore Takashimaya, you can also find the food hall at Basement 1 – here you will find a huge collection of Japanese snacks as well as a Kit Kat Chocolatory. You can use your Takashimaya Shopper’s card here – spend more than 5400 Yen and you also get 8% sales tax refund at Takashimaya (you can combine multiple receipts). UnionPay credit cards are also accepted at all stores in Takashimaya. Just be sure to claim your tax refund at the 2nd floor tax refund counter before it closes at 8.30pm. Be prepared for long queues for tax refunds.
On the free in-store Wi-Fi, there are some instructions you need to follow to activate it:
- You will be connected to the “Free WiFi Passport by Softbank”
- To acquire the password, select “Softbank” as the roaming carrier and dial *8180 toll-free number
- Within the designated space, input the password and your ID (country code and phone number). Once you have input the data, you can use the free Wi-Fi for 2 weeks, with no time limit for individual usage sessions
I have not tried this method before so do check in with information desk if unsure.
Tokyu Hands is located as part of the Takashimaya building – sharing Level 2 to 8 with Takashimaya Times Square. I would recommend that you check out the Tokyu Hands at Shibuya instead – that is a much bigger store.
- Shinjuku OIOI Marui
For the budget conscious looking for young women fashion, go for the Shinjuku Marui Honkan (OIOI). The Shinjuku OIOI Marui targets women in the 25 to 30 age range and has 9 floors including 1 basement floor. Besides the main Marui Honkan building, also check out Marui Men and Marui Annex for more clothing options. UnionPay Cardholders enjoy 5% discount off purchases + 8% tax refund (upon purchasing 10,801 Yen on the same day) at OIOI Marui. There is also a slightly smaller OIOI Marui store at Shibuya – the same 5% UnionPay discount applies there too.
- Shinjuku Don Quijote
Shinjuku Don Quijote is a discount chain store in Tokyo and is quite an experience to check out – you find all sorts of things here e.g. party stuff, Japanese snacks, beauty products and interestingly a huge collection of kinky clothes e.g. policewoman, nurse dresses and lingerie here (I guess because of its proximity to the red light district Kabukicho). Do expect a very crowded store especially at its basement (which has a large collection of snacks e.g. Kit Kat, Pocky and beauty products). You can qualify for 8% sales tax refund if you spend more than 5400 Yen (including tax). UnionPay cards are accepted here too.
- Shinjuku Matsumoto Kiyoshi Drug Store (or Pharmacy)
Matsumoto Kiyoshi Drug Store is like our Singapore version of ValueShop crossed with Watson and Guardian – it is another discount chain store found almost anywhere in Tokyo. You find baby products e.g. toothbrush, biscuits, diapers, milk powder, Koolfever patches as well as various Japanese snacks but the bulk majority of the products are about healthcare and beauty e.g. facial masks, foot masks and many other sprays. Of course, you can find medicine to cure all types of ailments – most instructions are in Japanese though but most of the salesperson speaks Chinese so they will be able to communicate with you if you speak Chinese. 8% tax-free shopping and UnionPay card payment are available here too.
Shopping in Harajuku
- Daiso at Takeshita Shopping Street
Daiso needs no further introduction – it is known as the S$2 shop here in Singapore but in Tokyo, it is 100 Yen. Including sales tax, it will be 108 Yen (about S$1.44). Most items are 100 Yen – do note that there are some items that cost more than 100 Yen (they will be labelled accordingly). If you don’t see a price tag, it means it is 100 Yen + 8% sales tax. Here, you can find found-in-Japan only Daiso products and a huge collection of Japanese food and snacks. UnionPay cards are accepted here but it seems that there is no tax-free shopping here at this Harajuku branch of Daiso.
- LaForet Harajuku (Free in-store Wi-Fi available)
LaForet Harajuku – just a 5 minute walk away from the Takeshita shopping street – was part of the UnionPay Feel Japan campaign (ended 13 Nov 2016). LaForet Harajuku is a 6-storey building but with the creation of a mezzanine level at each floor – there is essentially 12 stories of fashion shopping i.e. there is 1F, 1.5F, 2F, 2.5F… you get the idea. Lots of shopping for ladies and men – accessories, jewelry, footwear, bags. There is also a used clothing store on 4F (LEBECCA boutique). Do note that tax-free shopping is only available at some stores.
With the UnionPay Feel Japan campaign at LaForet Harajuku, you enjoy discounts for unique experiences at this shopping malls e.g. you can transform into a Lolita with makeup for about S$140!
- Omotesando Hills
Omotesando Hills is a huge shopping mall known for its high end fashion and many restaurants and cafes. Do note that there are 3 sections to the Omotesando Hills shopping mall – Main Building, Dojun Wing and the West Wing. It is located conveniently next to the Omote-sando subway station (Ginza, Hanzomon, Chiyoda subway lines).
As part of the UnionPay Feel Japan Campaign, KuKuRaZa Popcorn (located at the Dojun Wing) offered a free “small” size popcorn for customers spending 2000 Yen or more (including tax) on a UnionPay card. Offer had ended on 13 Nov 2016.
Check out the following picture for a map of the shopping at Takeshita shopping street, LaForet Harajuku and Omotesando Hills.
Shopping in Shibuya
You will find a lot of the stores I had mentioned above here in Shibuya e.g. Don Quijote, BIC Camera, OIOI Marui so if you couldn’t find what you want in the Shinjuku branch, you can try your luck at the Shibuya branch.
- Shibuya 109 (Free in-store Wi-Fi available – under Visit Shibuya Wi-Fi – show your passport to information desk 1st floor for password)
Here at Shibuya 109, you will find 10 floors of fashion shopping and restaurants and cafes. Worth a visit – it is like Far East Plaza with the individual fashion shops but much more organised. UnionPay cards are accepted here.
- Tokyu Hands Shibuya (Free in-store Wi-Fi available – under Hands_FreeSpot)
I had mentioned the Tokyu Hands that was attached to the Takashimaya Times Square building at Shinjuku – that was a large store but the Tokyu Hands Shibuya is a much larger one. There are 8 floors (including the basement) but each floor is further divided into A, B and C e.g. Level 1A connects to Level 1B via a short flight of stairs and then Level 1B connects to Level 1C and then to Level 2A. I recommend taking the lift all the way up to Level 7 and walk your way down Tokyu Hands to experience the amazing collection of stuff that Tokyu Hands sell e.g. Crafts, Miniature Models, Stationery, Healthcare, Interior Design and even a Pets section.
The best part of all these is that UnionPay Cardholders are eligible for 5% discount for purchases at Tokyu Hands with a UnionPay card (no minimum purchase required). You can also claim 8% tax refund at Tokyu Hands when you spend more than 5400 Yen at the store.
This concludes the top 13 places to shop in Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya – Do check out my next few blog posts on how to claim the 8% sales consumption tax refund in Japan and what are the top Japanese snacks to buy back home and where you can buy them.