Tokyu Hands originally opened in 1976, with the Shibuya branch the third opening in what is now a nationwide and much-loved department store. With DIY very much the central focus behind this "creative life store", Tokyu Hands grew a reputation for crafts, materials and design right from the start – the "hands" logo symbolises this philosophy too.
The modern Tokyu Hands remains true to these roots but now far sells a far wider variety of products, including home and kitchenware, health & beauty products as well as lifestyle goods, stationary, arts & crafts, variety goods (including toys and games) and even bicycles. This sounds like a lot for one store, but Tokyu Hands is so well organised it is very easy to find what you are looking for – and the Shibuya store's unique spiral mezzanine design is an excellent example of this, with each floor offering a split-level layout across A, B and C sections.
With its heritage in materials and design, you won't be sdurprised either to find that at Tokyu Hands, product quality and design is number one with a number of ranges 'Made in Japan' and a strong selection of original and traditional designs and products on display. Whilst this makes for great a window shopping experience too, the following list highlights some products that we think make for great souvenirs:
- Kabuki FacemasksRejuvenate your skin whilst celebrating traditional Japanese culture! These facemasks make for a fun alternative. The Kabuki Face Pack designs are inspired by actual makeup designs from the classic kabuki plays, 'Funabenkei' and 'Shibaraku'. They're not designed for dressing up – but would make for a great selfie nonetheless!
- Paper CraftsThese colorful paper craft items are fairly popular, and of course, very portable. From animals and temples to Tokyo Tower itself, take home your very own paper craft kit. Many varieties of origami supplies and washi paper are also sold.
- Kimono Bottle CoversIf you enjoy the odd glass of wine (or sake, or umeshu...), or know someone who does, these miniature kimono bottle covers are an elegant way to store a few bottles around the house.
- Skincare ProductsJapan's cosmetic skincare industry is fairly advanced and well-known – the youthful complexion so well maintained by the aging Japanese woman can now be yours too! An impressive range of beauty, bath, makeup and skincare products is stocked – we liked this Makanai skincare range, including goldleaf ingredient.
- Frixion PensOriginally developed in Japan, these special pens can magically erase as well as write too! With the heat-sensitive ink magically disappearing through the friction from using the hard rubber eraser, now there's no need to be afraid of making mistakes!
- Plastic FoodOften both a charming sight and vital translation aid for tourists looking at a restaurant menu, replica food items are big business in Japan. Take home your own replica bowl of ramen or an imitation pint of ice-cold Asahi beer.
- Decorative Phone CoversMobile phone accessories are all the rage in Japan – you can't walk far without seeing some unique cover, design or mobile phone charm adorning the keitai smartphone of Japan's youth. Choose between the many covers and transfer designs too.
- Japanese FansThe Japanese summer can pack quite a sweltering punch for the uninitiated, but as well as treating yourself to one, these fans make for good souvenir gifts too. A huge range is stocked, including folding sensu fans (both traditional designs as well as message versions) and traditional paper uchiwa.
- Stickers and TapeA larger number of stickers and decorative tape is available with cute Japanese designs. These make great souvenirs by themselves, or a good way to customise a card or another gift you have bought.
- Train souvenirsJapan is known for its impressive rail network and now you can take home your very own piece of memorabilia. From chopsticks and replica models to station sign keychains, Tokyu Hands has it all.
As a destination in itself, there's many other reasons to visit Tokyu Hands in Shibuya too. The top floor has its own Hands Cafe space, which has a number of Macs available for surfing the internet. There is free Wi-Fi in this area too – and you don't even need to sign-up to use it.
This area houses a 'Science Base' display collection, highlighting unique products with a more scientific or natural environment edge. Both sections back on to a small roof garden, selling a variety of small plants including cactii and bonsai trees. Completing this floor is the Hands Gallery Market, which showcases original creations from independent Japanese designers. Visitor information is provided helpfully in English, Chinese and Korean too.
If you have your Narita Express booked from Shibuya Station or are passing through Shibuya itself, definitely make a quick trip to Tokyu Hands – you may just find you need to buy one of their suitcases in the 1A Travel section to help you to take home everything you want!