Overwhelming but fun, that’s how I would describe our shopping experience in Tokyo. JP and I both wanted Tokyo to surprise us and the busy metropolis did not disappoint. Aside from the wonderful attractions and sights, we were floored at the stores that were exclusive to our interest. Whenever we go abroad, JP will spend his free time visiting guitar shops while I spend an hour making trivial choices at the country’s local art supply store. Tokyo made it even harder for us. Just imagine this: Seven floors of art-related (or in JP’s case, music-related) things, with each floor having their own designation.
How can one person shop without flailing so hard?
If you’re planning to visit Tokyo anytime soon and would love to stock up on brush pens, watercolor, and other art stuff, then you will love this post. Not only did I provide a list, but also some pictures of the stores so you’ll have an idea what they look like — making it a whole lot easier for you to find them when you’re finally in Tokyo.
For art supplies, Sekaido pretty much has EVERYTHING. Sekaido is like National Bookstore and ArtFriend combined. The main store in Shinjuku had six floors, each of them has their own designation of products. The first floor is stationery, office supplies, and pens. The second floor is architecture and manga haven. While the third floor is mostly paints (watercolor, oil, acrylic) and fine art materials. The upper half of the store were focused on other art mediums.
The flagship store is located near Shinjuku-Sanchome Station. But if you’re coming from the main Shinjuku Station, the store is about 2-3 blocks away. Take note that the store closes at exactly 9PM, and if you’re like me, it would normally take you about an hour or more to decide what you want to buy.
About a block away from Sekaido is Kinokuniya. I didn’t go inside this particular branch because I’ve already spent way too much on brush pens and watercolor supplies, but this store has eight floors of books, magazines, comics, and stationery. What is book heaven?!
They also have other branches in Tokyo and in other cities, such as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Uematsu is a small art store in front of Shibuya Station. They carry a lot of mineral pigments and traditional Japanese art materials. This store has that advanced and traditional painters vibe.
Tokyu Hands in Shibuya can put SM Department Store, ACE Hardware, SM Home, and National Bookstore to shame. They sell art and craft supplies, stationery, luggage, furniture, electronics, DIY materials, etc. Just like Sekaido, each level has their own designation. The flagship store in Shibuya has about “24” floors.
What I like about Tokyu Hands is the DIY section. They sell a bunch of wood here that they can cut for you (I think!). We don’t have that kind of service here in the Philippines, which sucks. Plus, our local hardware stores often look dirty and dingy, too.
Loft carries quirky and beautifully designed products, art supplies, and so forth. The store I visited in Shibuya is actually a complex store with Muji, meaning some of the floors are focused on Muji products. You have to go down the stairs to get to Loft.
Note: I’ve read somewhere that Loft and Tokyu Hands often sell very similar merchandise, so I would encourage you to run through both stores before spending your Japanese Yen.
Daiso is a popular one-stop novelty store in Japan. Almost everything sold in Daiso only cost 100Yen or PHP35ish, including brush pens, colored papers, and food. I purchased my pastel colored paper there and have been using it as backgrounds for selected photos on Instagram. :) I believe the biggest Daiso branch is located in Harajuku, but the place is really packed. Odaiba’s Diver City Mall is far from Shibuya, but it’s big and less crowded.
Seria 100 is similar to Daiso. Nearly everything is 100Yen. They’re not an art store but they do sell a few items related to the arts, like brush pens, knitting materials, and beads.
And that wraps up my list. I’m 110% sure that there are other art stores scattered throughout the metropolis that I didn’t mention.
If you know a place that should be included on this list, please let me know! My readers and I would love to visit those stores one day. :)