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The streets of Tokyo.
The streets of Tokyo.

Tokyo Shopping

Thursday, April 8, 2004
David hits the crazy streets of Tokyo for the number one pastime … shopping.

A city of 12 million people and the world's second largest economy means there will be lots of shopping. Japan is a place of trends — things come in and go out, and copious advertising tempts people to part with their hard-earned yen.

The main shopping district in Tokyo is the brightly neon-lit Ginza. It is crammed with designer clothing, shoes, accessories, make-up and whatever else is in fashion. It is expensive, so it's best to wait until the sales are on.

The Japanese are very conscious of the way they look and dress, and spend vast amounts to achieve the look they want.

Today's teenagers have broken away from the traditional, conservative style and they are into everything from punk to romanticism, and they have a passion for gravity-defying shoes with enormous platforms. They follow trends set by rock stars who hold very high status amongst local young people.

Harajuku is a hangout for school and college kids, and prices there are a lot less than other areas. Every second teenager has a mobile phone and the latest ones have built-in cameras.

Kappabashi-dori is the centre of things culinary. Every restaurant has a lifelike plastic facsimile on display of every dish they serve inside, which is very handy when menus are written in Japanese. You can buy your own magnet facsimile for the fridge at home as a constant reminder of the best sushi or tempura you have ever eaten.

Nakamise-dori is where you will find an amazingly eclectic mix of souvenirs. Every puppy should have a flashing collar, and this is where you get it.

Japan has more vending machines than anywhere else on earth. It is possible to live your life without resorting to any other sort of shopping. They are on most corners, subway stations and plenty of places in between.

The machines have been raised to an art form and as well as junk food and fizzy drinks, they dispense coffee, nuts, rice, flowers, toys, cigarettes, magazines, beer, sake and whisky.

Akihabara, or Electric Town, is like any other marketplace — busy, bustling and noisy — except this one is block after block of shops packed with electronic wizardry and techno gadgets. Be warned though — most products are for the domestic market only and as Japan operates on a different voltage from Australia, you would need a transformer for most electrical items.


Tokyo, the capital of Japan


Qantas flies daily to Tokyo. Return economy airfares start at $1849 from Darwin, $2128 from Perth, $2132 from Melbourne and Brisbane, $2148 from Sydney and $2150 from Adelaide, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.

More information

Japan Travel Bureau (JTB)
Ph: 1800 800 956
Japan National Tourist Organisation
(02) 9232 5422
Qantas: Ph: 13 14 15

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