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Tokyo’s best second hand shop and city (s)hopping

Tokyo’s best second hand shop and city (s)hopping

What a title. Deserves an explanation but you do get it all. Pictures of Tokyo which show the modern character of a capital – build out of the rumble of last centuries tragedies.

Tomek and I were walking around Tokyo and I took some pictures which show the craziness and vastness of Tokyo’s modern geometric shopping streets and prevalent architecture.

And you get the coolest second hand shop amongst all the shopping frenzy in Tokyo. Because here money seems to evaporate fast for all kinds of great things.

I was having an eye out for neat fashion stores and on that day the nifty clothes and accessories store I came across was a second hand shop called MODE OFF.

Location: 4-2-3 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo (open 11:00AM to 9:00PM), opposite McDonald’s, close to Ameyoko Street, they are a part of a second hand chain for all kinds of stuff,  www.hardoff.co.jp

Tokyo Mode Off near Ueno station

 

It is the best second hand shop in Tokyo I have found so far. I have been to two others and this one is clearly the winner for its unbeatable prices. The clothes are in excellent shape, most garments look absolutely new.

My best buy for spring was a sorta-Yukata-patterned coat with detailed dot patterns and beautifully tailored. It is triangular shaped and creates a sweet shoulder line with an open collar that looks like the subtle back cut neckline of a Geisha’s kimono, with the hemline just finishing off at the best part of me legs. The coat was 3,000 JPY. I also got a sweater in old rose with puff sleeves and a cute Japanese style French romantic vest in the same colour, each for only 300 JPY.

I am standing near our Tokyo town house in the residential area of Setagaya.

Tokyo-yukata style twiggy coat

 

Mode Off  sells a lot of high street and brand name stuff, such as original Louis Vuitton, Coach, Gucci and other designer bags but mainly many Japanese boutique and fashion brand names. They have shoes, belts, scarves and watches and they have a men’s section as well.

The other second hand shop I visited has a nice retro interior and I noticed a lot of seventies dresses with trendy pieces but the prices were slightly higher. It is located across the best coffee place in Tokyo in Tokyo’s Waseda area.

DSC01912-376x250 Tokyo drinking

 

As you can see on day two of sightseeing with our Japanese friend Takumi he took a rest while Tomek took some pictures as I took pleasure in second hand fashion. One thing I learned during our travels is that the shopping morale of men is the same across continents.

But I am prepared. If shopping is not your cup of tea I have TOKYO CITY SHOTS and more of men’s shopping tips for you.

Tokyo is a lot of fun to explore (if you have comfortable foot gear). The capital is huge and a thoroughly planned maze of shopping streets.

The left street is AMEYOKO which is sort of an Asian bazaar like market and for some reason mentioned in all guidebooks. (BTW Mode Off is located on the right street of this intersection.)

Tokyo market near Ueno station

 

Ameyoko Street runs beneath the railway tracks of Ueno Station. That street is the total opposite to the kind of top end quality shopping experience typical of Tokyo. Here, you can get a lot of overpriced low quality merchandise, fake handbags, trainers, accessories, electronics and plastic toys whilst trying to escape from shouting Turkish kebab and junk food vendors and African touts. It is neither an authentic vibrant Asian market nor Tokyo (for me).

DSC02445-500x332

 

This is Tokyo. Futuristic buildings and fluorescent scenery we all know from films. Brightly neon lit endlessly straight shopping streets with Japanese restaurants and chains offering the most amazing shopping and food variety in the world.

Tokyo street

 

Neon and shiny and huge and intersections and swarms of people.

Tokyo architecture modern building

 

Tokyo is a blend of various modern buildings.

Tokyo architecture modern building Tokyo architecture modern building

 

Many buildings solely serve as restaurant malls. I particularly like the little streets with tiny eateries, sometimes not fitting more than 5 to 10 people.

DSC02800-376x250 DSC02805-376x250

 

Japan’s biggest retailer UNIQLO is owned by the country’s richest man who has recently put his unique idea into practise: to merge the electronics company Bic Camera and Uniqlo fashion to form BICQLO.

The result: it was fun to see mannequin dolls dressed in newest Uniqlo garments adorned with cameras, standing behind coffee machines and bicycles.

Bicqlo Shinjuku store. If you ever feel like buying a pair of boxer shorts and a washing machine this is the place to go.

Tokyo architecture modern building

 

I felt like living my childhood dream and got myself a MyMelody shirt at Bicqlo. I am only wearing it to Yoga class and around our rented house in Setagaya.

My Melody T shirt Tokyo kitchen

 

Shopping in Tokyo is a pleasure. The ISETAN department store in Shinjuku is a must see for its beautiful art deco style façade but mainly for its stunning food court and exquisite pastry and food stands in the basement. It features the most amazing top end merchandise and you will spend hours here without noticing. Isetan also has a just men’s collection over eight floors.

Tokyo architecture modern building

 

DON QUIJOTE ドン・キホーテ is a Japanese discount chain and shopping attraction. It has everything you never knew existed, you do not need, but certainly going to like to have. I like these stores for the cheap costumes you can get. Combine a Lolita Victorian maid dress with a horse head mask. This is the place. The store has extremely narrow alleys cramped with stuff, easy to get lost in shopping mania. Here on Kabukicho district.

Tokyo food court

 

Space comes at a premium in Tokyo. Buildings are slim and tall. Sometimes you will see a bit of European architecture thrown in.

Tokyo architecture modern building P1340506

 

This pleasantly clashing building houses a wedding planer.

romantic building TokyoWedding planer

 

How to make more parking space.

Tokyo double decker parking

 

Infrastructure, green areas and buildings are perfectly arranged. There is no undeveloped space in Tokyo. The NTT Docomo Yoyogi  building is the world’s largest clock tower and an office building, the Yamano tower building houses Tokyo’s beauty college.

DSC02036-376x250 DSC02041-376x250

 

Due to a tragic historic past, there are sculptures that are a reminder to world peace. Some are just cute.

Tokyo sculpture P1340603

 

The modern and traditional are commonly embodied through a mix of restaurants that look like ancient temples and contemporary shopping stores. OlOl does confusingly read Marui which is the name of Japan’s widely known department store with women’s clothing and accessories.

Tokyo architecture modern building - 0101 Tokyo architecture modern building

 

Japan is all about gorgeous details and subtle decorative elements. Street art Tokyo style.

Tokyo pavement map Tokyo street sign near Ueno Park

 

You will see artists practising on the streets. It seems to be uncommon to collect money that way. Bands and artists mainly sell their CDs or their image.

Tokyo fun

 

Japan is a lot about PACHINKO. Pachinko are huge entertainment parlours with endless rows of gaming machines which make a considerable and unforgettable amount of noise. To generate profit by gambling is illegal in Japan, so a separate business emerged where gamblers can exchange prize tokens for cash and thereby avoid persecution.

Tokyo fun Tokyo fun

 

Karaoke and dance games are incredibly popular with the young Tokyoites. You have to step up on pads to engage in sort of a displayed dance choreography. Judging from that scene it can be as strenuous as working out at the gym.

Tokyo entertainment - wet guy

 

Dehydration is impossible. Japan is vending machine heaven. Hot drinks, cold drinks? Any time – anywhere!

Tokyo wending machines

 

With all that vastness you might be surprised how few trash bins there are in Tokyo. Be prepared to carry stuff from one conbini-convenience store to the next which usually have bins in front of the store. Considering Tokyo’s size and number of inhabitants it is amazingly clean. No need for do-not-trash-manga-reminders really.

Tokyo fun

 

Instead of trash bins, there are a lot of umbrellas around and each building will have an umbrella stand, sometimes even a plastic wrapping machine to prevent dripping mess. Japan is the only country I have seen that very commonly uses transparent umbrellas. I remember I always wanted one as a kid and I still like the idea of see-through umbrellas a lot.

Tokyo umbrella stand

 

Construction sites are just as fun. There will be a safety first approach to minimize road hazards. I love the safety men waving with their light sticks, be it the smallest of construction work in Japan. Damage control is everything here.

Tokyo roadworks

 

After all that excitement you can squeeze into the train with about a million commuters to get a ride home. I have read that 3,8 million individuals use Shinjuku station everyday. If you come early you might get a seat.

Tokyo metro

That was Tokyo in a nutshell. Hope you enjoyed the sightseeing so far!

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7 Comments

  1. I definitely have to try this second hand shop! I spend all my money at Shibuya 109, for the price of your coat I just get a necklace ^^

    • Money miraculously evaporating is one of the biggest mysteries in Tokyo! ;) I just found out about a second hand shop for brand-name clothing and designer household goodies: Ragtag at Harajuku, 6-14-2 Jingumae. Tempting…

  2. I’m loving your blog atm~~ This is exactly the thing I’ve been looking for… someone’s insight into the culture & life of Japan. Perhaps one day, I’ll get to go there myself ^_^

    I hope both of you are having a great time there and I look forward to reading more of your posts! (anything Japanese food is a bonus for me too~)

    • Welcome, food connoisseur and J-stuff admirer! Candied Harajuku stuff coming up in the next post for you :)

      • Yep~ pretty much summed me up in 5 words! Going to read your latest post right now :)

  3. I agree, Mode-Off is very cool. There is another at Oizumi Gakuen on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line. It’s much bigger than the Ueno shop. When you leave the gates of the station take the entrance on the right and then cross at the crossing going left. You will see it around the corner.

    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for the tip! Mode Off is absolutely my favourite place to look for unique pieces without spending a fortune and compromising on quality. I have enjoyed Mode Off all over Tokyo by now and also loved the store in Setagaya near Sakurashinmachi Station (added this to a visit of fun at the nearby Hazegawa Machiko Art Museum) or Mode Off in Koenji (a district that lives off second hand stores!).
      Here is a list of ALL MODE OFFs in Tokyo (paste it into google chrome for translation).
      For unique vintage stuff I also recommend the hip area around Shimokitazawa.
      Of course, there is also a Mode Off store :)

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