fashion shopping in Tokyo (phrase book Japanese guide)

Japanese aesthetic terms you must learn to go shopping in Tokyo (street style guide)

Sure, here’s a basic guide that can help you navigate the various Japanese aesthetic styles:

  1. Wabi-sabi (わびさび) [wah-bee-sah-bee]: This aesthetic draws its beauty from imperfection and the natural ages of items. Wabi-sabi favors the individuality and humble beauty found in nature or in time-worn objects.
  2. Kawaii (可愛い) [kah-wai-ee]: ‘Kawaii’ literally translates to ‘cute.’ This popular trend leans into all things cute and fanciful. Icons and items related to this style often have a childlike and bubbly appearance.
  3. Shibui (渋い) [shi-boo-ee]: ‘Shibui’ refers to a refined, subtle aesthetic that values simplicity. It celebrates minimalistic shapes and tones down color.
  4. Iki (いき) [ee-kee]: ‘Iki’ defines a sort of clever, original elegance. It touches on individuality and simplicity but isn’t as concerned with perfection or minimalism.
  5. Mori Girl (森ガール) [Moh-ree Geh-roo]: This aesthetic translates to ‘forest girl.’ This fashion style is characterized by its inspirations from nature, and a preference for earthy, woodland-themed clothing and accessories. Often layered and loose-fitting, the garments include knitwear, floral prints, scarves, and handmade or vintage items.
  6. Monomuzrazu (物、無量) [moh-no-moo-zrah-zoo]: The minimalist aesthetic, emphasizing having less but better quality items. It promotes de-cluttering and living simply.
  7. Harajuku (原宿) [ha-rah-joo-koo]: This is a district in Tokyo known for its vibrant and eccentric fashion, which has become an aesthetic of its own. It’s eclectic, fun, youthful and often disregards trends for individual expression.
  8. Lolita (ロリータ) [ro-ri-ta]: A fashion subculture that originated in Japan, based on Victorian and Edwardian clothing, but can also refer to different styles within the subculture, such as Gothic Lolita, Sweet Lolita, or Punk Lolita.
  9. Gyaru (ギャル) [gyah-roo]: A fashion subculture characterized by heavily bleached or dyed hair, highly decorated nails, and dramatic makeup. It’s seen as a form of self-expression and rebellion against traditional Japanese beauty standards.
  10. Yukata (æµ´è¡£) [yoo-kah-tah]: A casual version of the kimono, usually made of cotton or synthetic fabric, and worn in the summer. They’re often brightly colored or designed with simple patterns. Yukata are normally worn for festivals, firework displays, or other special summer events.
  11. Kimono (着物) [ki-mo-no]: Traditional Japanese garment. It refers to full-length robes with wide sleeves and tied with a sash.
  12. Fukinsei (不均整) [fu-kin-sei]: Refers to an aesthetic of asymmetry or irregularity. It’s one of the principles used in traditional Japanese arts such as ikebana (flower arranging) and garden design, suggesting a balance beyond symmetry.
  13. Kigurumi (着ぐるみ) [ki-gu-ru-mi]: Refers to the trend of wearing full bodysuits resembling characters, often animals, and now a common sight at cosplay events.
  14. Japonisme (ジャポニスメ) [ja-po-ni-su-me]: A French term that denotes the influence of Japanese art on Western art. It encompasses the ‘japanified’ styles of foreign items.
  15. Bōsōzoku (暴走族) [bo-so-zo-ku]: Literally “running-out-of-control (as of a vehicle) tribe”, it refers to Japanese youth motorcycle subculture known for their modified bikes, rockabilly-inspired fashion, and rebellious attitude.
fashion shopping in Tokyo (phrase book Japanese guide)

The best shopping areas in Tokyo for a variety of Japanese aesthetic styles:

  1. Harajuku:
  • Takeshita Street and Cat Street are both iconic shopping streets known for their Harajuku, Kawaii, Lolita, and other street fashions.
  • Shops: AEON, Daiso, W❤️C, ACDC Rag, Nile Perch
  • Average price range: $10 – $200
  1. Shibuya:
  • A shopping district popular among younger shoppers, considered the center for youth fashion and culture. Also good for Gyaru and Bōsōzoku style.
  • Shops: Shibuya 109, UNIQLO, Tower Records
  • Average price range: $20 – $300
  1. Akihabara:
  • Known for its collections of anime and manga related items, as well as electronics and video games. Good for Kigurumi costumes.
  • Shops: Yodobashi, Surugaya, Animate stores
  • Average price range: $50-$500
  1. Ginza:
  • Great for Iki and Monomuzuzu-style items. Known for its luxury brands and the latest fashion trends.
  • Shops: Matsuya Ginza, Mitsukoshi, Uniqlo Ginza, Loft, and luxury brand stores like Chanel and Gucci.
  • Average price range: This is a high-end area, you can expect price ranges generally from $100 and can go up to a few thousand dollars.
  1. Ueno:
  • Known for its traditional Japanese crafts, it’s a good spot for Wabi-Sabi items.
  • Shops: Ameya-Yokochō Market, Takeya
  • Average price range: $10-$300
  1. Shinjuku:
  • A major shopping area with a huge assortment of stores, including traditional Japanese items for Yukata and Kimono.
  • Shops: Isetan, Daimaru, Odakyu
  • Average price range: $50-$2000
  1. Ochanomizu:
  • Famous for its music and instrument stores, but also great for Mori Girl and Fukinsei shopping.
  • Shops: Takeya Ueno, Kanda Meisuidori Shopping Street
  • Average price range: $20-$500
  1. Asakusa (continued):
  • Known for its traditional Japanese clothes like Yukata and Kimono, and items that adopt the Shibui and Wabi-sabi aesthetics.
  • Shops: Nakamise Shopping Street for souvenirs, handicrafts, and traditional food; Marugoto Nippon for a variety of traditional items and regional crafts; Asakusa Shin Nakamise Shopping Street for more clothing and accessories.
  • Average price range: It varies greatly depending on the item, you can find souvenirs and light clothing for around $10, but a high-quality yukata or kimono can go from $100 to $1000 or more.

Some helpful Japanese phrases for shopping in Tokyo

  1. How much is this?
  • これはいくらですか?(Kore wa ikura desu ka?)
  1. Can I try this on?
  • これを試着してもいいですか?(Kore o shichaku shite mo ii desu ka?)
  1. Where is the changing room?
  • 試着室はどこですか?(Shichakushitsu wa doko desu ka?)
  1. Do you have this in another size?
  • これを他のサイズで持っていますか?(Kore o hoka no saizu de motte imasu ka?)
  1. Do you have this in a different color?
  • これは他の色で持っていますか?(Kore wa hoka no iro de motte imasu ka?)
  1. Is this new?
  • これは新品ですか?(Kore wa shinpin desu ka?)
  1. Is this second-hand/vintage?
  • これは中古/ヴィンテージですか?(Kore wa chÅ«ko/vuinteeji desu ka?)
  1. I’ll take this.
  • これをください。(Kore o kudasai.)
  1. Do you accept credit cards?
  • クレジットカードは使えますか?(Kurejitto kaado wa tsukaemasu ka?)
  1. Can you wrap it as a gift, please?
    • ギフトラップしていただけますか?(Gifuto rapu shite itadake masu ka?)
  2. Please give me a receipt.
    • レシートをください。(Reshiito o kudasai.)
  3. Where is the cashier?
    • レジはどこですか? (Reji wa doko desu ka?)

Learning these phrases can make your shopping in Tokyo smoother.