©Photo by iStock: Edwin Tan

Tokyo’s Best Variety Shops to Visit This Holiday Season

Explore The World Of Zakka-ya: Unique Treasures and Delightful Gifts

By Michele Tanabe
December 13, 2023
In Season, Lifestyle, Shopping

Whether you’re on the hunt for a special gift or simply enjoy window shopping, this curated guide on Japanese variety shops will aid in finding that perfect present and sparking festive inspiration.

Zakka-ya (雑貨屋) or zakka-ten (雑貨店) are integral to Japan’s consumer culture and are deeply ingrained in the shopping experience. But what exactly are they? While the standalone term zakka refers to everyday objects that enhance one’s lifestyle, zakka-ya are commonly described as shops offering an assortment of home goods including clothing, food, stationary, jewelry, kitchenware and personal care items. In essence, zakka-ya are variety shops, some of which have gained notable recognition. Below, we’ll delve into some of the most popular zakka-ya, as well as introduce a few local gems offering fantastic items this holiday season.

Popular Zakka-Ya Staples: Find Seasonal Gifts at Your Favorites

Tokyo’s Best Variety Shops to Visit This Holiday Season© Photo by iStock: Rob Jorg

Even if you were previously unfamiliar with the concept of zakka-ya, chances are you’ve unwittingly stepped into one while running errands or shopping with friends. These shops have an uncanny knack for captivating shoppers, whether it’s the relaxing ambiance and comforting scents of Muji (無印良品) or their lavishly decorated, seasonally rotating displays featuring sparkling ornaments, gift sets and cozy winter attire.

Popular Zakka-ya You May Already Know

Tokyo’s Best Variety Shops to Visit This Holiday Season© Photo by iStock: winhorse

If you’re new to zakka-ya, start by exploring some of the most popular and accessible ones listed below. Just a word of caution: when entering Village Vanguard, you might find yourself lost or lose track of time with each visit.

Discover Local Zakka-ya for One-of-a-Kind Gifts

Tokyo’s Best Variety Shops to Visit This Holiday Season© Photo by Michele Tanabe

While you’re sure to discover something special at the well-known zakka-ya mentioned above, exploring local zakka-ya in smaller Tokyo neighborhoods adds a unique dimension to your shopping experience, especially if you’re in search of something truly distinctive. Each shop listed below offers a curated selection of gifts, imbued with its own individual charm.  The local zakka-ya listed below provide a personalized touch to your holiday shopping, making them ideal destinations for finding meaningful presents for your loved ones or a treat-your-self moment! 

Noren Kagurazaka

Tokyo’s Best Variety Shops to Visit This Holiday Season© Photo by Michele Tanabe

Renowned for its delectable French bakeries and charming izakayas, Kagurazaka is widely regarded as one of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets. Beyond unique dining, Kagurazaka boasts an unmatched selection of shopping. Noren Kagurazaka is a specialized zakka-ya offering an assortment of traditional Japanese goods such as kitchen utensils, food, cosmetics, clothing and accessories. For those interested in fermented foods, head directly next door is Noren Muro, Noren’s sister store which specializes in rice malt and amazake (a traditional drink made from fermented rice.)

Address: Atré Kichijoji Main building 2F, 1-1-24 Kichijoji-minami, Musashino, Tokyo


Tokyo’s Best Variety Shops to Visit This Holiday Season© Photo by Michele Tanabe

For those seeking a little slice of America, Zapady-Doo offers a selection of American-core goodies. Located just a 10-minute walk from Ebisu station, the store stands out with its colorful durable trash bins and furniture visible from a distance. Inside, you’ll discover a wide array of holiday decorations and goods. Plus, shoppers have the option to have their purchases wrapped in gorgeous festive wrapping paper (with a vintage flair of course). Further into the shop, you’ll encounter furniture, tools, vintage-style decorations, kitchenware and various useful gadgets.

Address: EN Daikanyama 1F, 1-33-15 Ebisu Nishi, Shibuya, Tokyo

Waseda Zakka-ten Switch

Tokyo’s Best Variety Shops to Visit This Holiday Season© Photo by Michele Tanabe

The university town of Waseda boasts itself as one of the most popular destinations for ramen and aburasoba (soupless ramen) enthusiasts. Yet, what might surprise visitors is the array of specialized shops, including eclectic zakka–ya! Nestled along the short winding road leading to Waseda University’s clocktower and main gate, Waseda Zakka Switch stands out as a must-visit spot for those seeking adorable handcrafted goods. Among the curated selection, one can find items such as holiday cards, books, homemade Christmas soap and artisan-made jewelry. The welcoming ambiance of the shop makes it a great stop while exploring this university town.

Address: Kawasaki Building 1F, 1-1-4 Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Dulton Jinnan & Dulton Jiyugaoka

Tokyo’s Best Variety Shops to Visit This Holiday Season© Photo by Dulton

Gift recipients and shoppers with an appreciation for practical gifts will find joy in exploring the shelves of Dulton. Situated just a five-minute walk from Jiyugaoka Station, Dulton Jiyugaoka stands with impressive multi-story windows along the street. Items at Dulton stores exude a rustic charm while maintaining a lived-in aura. From furniture to gardening supplies to used books and industrial-style items, the shop provides an eclectic mix that can combine any home with a cozy, well-lived feel. If a visit to Jyugaoka, isn’t feasible, there’s also a convenient Duran Jinnan location!

Address: A 1F, 1-4-8 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Dulton Jinnan), 2-25-14 Midorigaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (Dulton Jiyugaoka)

Hiroo Arobo

Tokyo’s Best Variety Shops to Visit This Holiday Season© Photo by Hiroo Arobo

There’s nothing like combining a bit of holiday perusing with your grocery shopping, and Arobo, nestled in the busy shopping streets of Hiroo, is a well-stocked zakka-ya with a warm and inviting ambiance. Stepping into Arobo, you’re sure to encounter unique finds. Whether you’re seeking to add a new twist to your weekly dinners with a novel cooking ingredient or contemplating a vibrant plate set, Arobo has it all. Browse through intricate glassware, plateware, condiments, drink mixes, food items, plants, baskets, gift sets and much more. As the shop slogan aptly states, “We have collected items that will enrich your life.”

Address: 5-17-3 Hiroo, Shibuya, Tokyo

Which zakka-ya do you plan on visiting this holiday season?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.