As October slips into November, though the weather is still yet to step into its wintry chill, it is once again time to begin thinking about Christmas presents for the kids. While you can still order G.I. Joes and Barbies from online stores back home you may find that your child’s tastes in toys have changed during their time in Japan. Finding toys and games to suit their new tastes may be difficult, so we have come up with a short list of toy stores in and around Tokyo that should fulfill your needs.
Of course everyone knows the old American favorite, Toys R Us, and the Japanese variety is also an immense store stocked to the rafters of every kind of toy you can think of.
Address: Aqua City Odaiba, 1 Chome-7-1 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 135-0091 (map link)
Address: Sunshine City Alpha B1, Ikekuro 1-3-1-1 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo-to 170-0013 (map link)
There are 80 Kiddyland stores around the country, but the perhaps the jewel in their crown is their flagship store in Harajuku. With five stories of fun and games the Harajuku branch of Kiddyland, in the area for over 60 years (though with a slight location change), is perhaps the quintisential toy shop in Japan. It sells everything you would expect with the latest exclusive Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma products found nowhere else. They also occasionally hold special events, particularly around Christmas and Halloween.
Perhaps the largest of all Tokyo’s toyshops, Hakuhinkan is something of a central nerve of Japanese kawaii eccentricity. Were a bomb to go off you can imagine that 25% of the country’s cuteness and craziness would be lost. As the headquarters for the Licca-chan Club, Japan’s very own Barbie, it is worth a visit for the cultural introduction into this world alone, not to mention the two floors of restaurants and the 8th story theatre.
Yamashiroya is six floors absolutely jam packed with toys, novelties, figures, model kits, character goods, plushies and games as well as a multitude of anime and Japanese toy brands. The store is so chock-a-block with toys there isn’t a whole lot of room to squeeze round the isles – not ideal if you have young children in a push chair – but it is a whole lot of fun.
Tokyu hands is a wonderful catch all department store in which you can find all manner of active stuff for kids. Whether it be handicrafts, facepaints or bikes, you can find it in Tokyu Hands. There are a few dotted around the city including one in the main Tokyo Station, so check the website for details of your nearest store. The stores in Ikebukuro and Shibuya are best known for toys.
A trip to a Japanese toy store would not be complete without picking up one of the many characters that populate our television screens. As such Tokyo Character Street in Ginza is perhaps the ultimate place to shop for TV struck kids. Located on the basement floor of the First Avenue Tokyo Station, Tokyo Character Street is an underground avenue of stores run by 15 TV companies, shop after shop of character after character. Whether it is Doaraemon dolls, cuddly Hello Kitty or Domo-kun and Doraemon dongles to hang from your Snoopy cell phone cover, here you can find it all.
Those play peddling behemoths are all well and good, but what about seeing a bit of history? Toys Terao’s prime location of Nakamise-dori in front of sensoji temple has enabled the family running this tiny store to continue business for 5 generations and nearly 130 years. The small shop is such a toy selling institution that it was profiled recently in The Japan Times.
By Mark Guthrie
This post is provided for information purposes only and is not intended as an endorsement by Japan Info Swap or the H&R Group K.K..