"Tokyu Hands is like some giant mutant wedding cake wherein each tier is an entire story of things that you HAVE TO HAVE because they are so cute/weird/necessary in a way that you could never have imagined." Io Fortier-Kuttner
My stepdaughter was visiting from the states and we had ventured to Yokohama for the day. We were wandering the area outside Yokohama Station when she clapped eyes on a 7-story mega-building and proclaimed, “Tokyu Hands”. She had read online it was a ‘must do’ while in Japan, and it turns out she was right. You won’t read about Tokyu Hands in standard travel books, but it is quintessentially Japanese, and worthy of your valuable travel time.
Appropriately, we entered into the travel section, aka Heaven. They have absolutely every gadget you can imagine, bags that will shrink your jackets and sweaters to the size of a sock. Tiny electric teapots and coffee making supplies, eye covers, neck pillows and other contraptions to ensure you maintain comfortable standards while on the road or in the sky. They stock a huge selection of suitcases, travel bags, Laptop and IPad covers, hundreds of Kawaii (Cute!) IPhone covers in Hello Kitty and animal designs. We spent a good half hour oohing and ahing over the merchandise before we headed to the equally impressive cooking section.
Started as a ‘Do It Yourself’ shop in 1976, Tokyu Hands offers supplies for a variety of DIY projects; kits for making, beer, wine and sake, and hobby tools and materials. I love the original idea behind the shop, being from a city that is often defined by DIY, and have purchased jewelry making supplies. Luckily, for non crafters, Tokyu Hands eventually expanded their stock to include a variety of ready made products that appeal to virtually every need, taste, and interest.
Tokyu Hands is representative of Japan as a whole. What they offer is smart, innovative, well designed and fashionable. And, they have something for everyone, the outdoor enthusiast, the cook, the traveler, and the hip urbanite. They also sell functional products, umbrellas and rain gear, bath and body products, office supplies galore, eye and sun glasses, bedding, cleaning supplies, ergonomic pillows and really great Japanese steel knives.
If you are visiting Japan, head to the cooking floor where you can buy lunch boxes, chopsticks, sauces, sake and fun stackable tea for two pots to take home as gifts. You can also buy Japanese hand made paper, journals, date books, cards and other writing and office supplies, i.e…an erasable red pen that is perfect for an English teacher like me. I now head to Tokyu Hands to buy gifts for every occasion, because you really can’t go wrong. I love any excuse to go, as it’s just fun and so Japanese. Weekends are bustling; there are often demonstrations or craft activities.
You'll find a list of Japanese made souvenirs on their website, or pick up a flier highlighting these items in the shop: http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/en/item.html
Of course, you can stay at Tokyu Hands for hours so fortunately they have the Very Strawberry Café and Covent Garden teahouse in the building as well. Strawberry Café is as cheerful as the name; the staff friendly, the desserts delicious, the space inviting with an open kitchen and bright checked tablecloths. I had perfectly al dente pasta served in a cast iron pan. Lunch runs 750-950 JPY, desserts 520-550 JPY. The menu is in Japanese, but there are accompanying pictures so you’ll have no problem.
Duty Free shopping - Shop Duty Free by taking your receipt and passport (with tourist visa), to the Information Booth after you’ve made your purchases.
Tokyo Hands has multiple stores; in addition to the Kanagawa location, there are 20 department stores in urban areas across the country.