Tokyo Sneaker Guide

Jul 9, 2002
i am lucky enough to be going to tokyo at the end of this month for 11 days. i was wondering if someone could recommend the dopest spots for kicks in tokyo. i know about foot soldier already from previous posts but any other shop recommendations would be much appreciated. thanks.
Once again it's time to copy my Tokyo information that Eric once posted here, hope this helps:

in general a good reference for tokyo shopping tourism -- and nyc and sydney, too -- is superfuture:

it's not specifically about sneakers but there are some really invaluable maps, esp. given 1. how complex it is to decode addresses in tokyo and 2. how difficult it may be to get help if you don't speak japanese (you'd be surprised).

a general caveat: if there appears to be a line outside of a shop... most likely that means there is a queue to enter! if you're going on a weekend to harajuku or perhaps a bathing ape in aoyama, pay attention...

if this is your first time to tokyo and you don't have anyone -- read: someone who can communicate in japanese -- to guide you around, your best bet is to stick with harajuku, shibuya, shinjuku, and perhaps aoyama. the first thing you should realize is that all of the hot kicks -- at least in japanese eyes -- are gone... long gone. reservations are taken at many places, and for example, some stores had already accounted for their entire stock of sheeds a while ago, and those don't come out until april. of course, whether all of these people actually buy the shoes upon release is another thing... but if the shoes are popular, the release is limited, and the quality is good... don't expect to pay retail unless you're an extreme size (big or small). an example would be the wheat/wheat-dark mocha air force 1s from around xmas... retail was 9,000 but fat chance finding those for less than 19,800.

on the other hand, if quality isn't particularly good -- and many of the newer nike releases have been quite poor -- then you'll have a chance to buy at retail. when i was there in late jan i was able to find a lot of pairs of white/black air force 1 lows, white/black patent air force 1 mids, white/orange-black dunk low pro b's, white/black ace 83s, etc., at retail, which i found to be quite surprising... but then each of these shoes tended to have widespread but small quality issues.

a good place to start is harajuku. get to either the jr harajuku station or the eidan meiji-jingumae station and walk down omote-sando. take the first left after meiji-dori (the main street with sephora, laforet, etc.)... on this street you'll find quite a few sneaker shops, including chapter, atmos, jump, zoom, etc., plus places like recon and neighborhood (and apparently a bathing ape shop but i've never been able to find it). chapter tends to have a wide selection, including things like the independence day air force 1 mids, l.a. air force 1 lows, etc... but expect to pay top dollar, if not more. the only thing helping you here is the exchange rate, as the yen is doing quite poorly against the u.s. dollar right now. also in the general area are headporter, stssy, and numerous like shops.

if you had taken the third left after meiji-dori, you'd come across a shop called "ad21" (it's above the real mad hectic shop)... it's basically a super sleek nike shop that in late jan was displaying the movement presto faze and the 01 line of limited clothing... not a lot of selection but i guess that's not the point.

as an aside, apparently the really fashionable thing in japan right now is making your shop so extremely difficult to find from the street that, well, people often do not find it. perhaps someone fell asleep during business school or perhaps they're doing so insanely well that they don't need business... i don't know.

so you've seen the enemy and waited in line... now you can try your luck in shibuya. walk towards the tower records and you'll find a little stretch with another, much smaller chapter shop, shoe bar, abc mart, etc. abc mart is huge but in reality tends not to have the really hot stuff in stock, while shoe bar seems to favor other brands than nike. across the street from shoe bar and abc mart is oi one, which on the 3rd and 4th floors has a large nike shop. when i was there you'd find all the reject, would be hot shoes on sale, like the suede dunk low pro bs, the new footscapes, and the not so nice colors of air zoom seismics.

in shinjuku there's more department store shopping -- don't laugh, i once saw the brazil dunk lows on sale at takashimaya -- and there's a little stretch on the way to kabukicho -- where you can most likely indulge in some of the stuff mentioned in a previous post -- that has 3-4 sneaker shops. selection is kind of hit or miss but you might find some nice buys from a few years ago or even some hot shoes if you search hard enough. if you make it to the shinjuku prince/pepe building, there's an athlete's foot in there, too.

there's also a large nike shop in kichijoji...

so what you're eventually going to realize is that besides chapter, you're going to see the same 50-100 pairs of shoes over and over and over again... and that none of the hot ones are available. at this point you might realize that it would be far better to try a suburb or even osaka, where arguably the selection might be just as screwed but at least the prices seem to be slightly better than tokyo.

after many ultimately disappointing trips to tokyo, i find myself going to a few shops near the gakudai-geigaku train station (a suburb) and mail ordering (and shipping to my hotel) from places outside of tokyo before i arrive.

if you're into electronics, don't forget akihabara... though you'll notice that the same thing that can be said about sneaker shops applies to the electronics shops there.

when all is said and done... take that money you would have spent on whatever pair of hot kicks you wanted and go get yourself some really expensive sushi. there's this absolutely incredible place called kozasa-sushi in ginza... take the b5 exit at the eidan ginza station and walk 3+ blocks down namiki dori (past the louis vuitton and on the same block as bally) turn left into the alley right before the "ginza nobu" shop and the lambo/audi dealership display and go into the first door on the right... it will have a double c with leafy branch logo. if you come across an elevated highway, you've walked too far.

try to go right when they're starting dinner service at 6pm as it's a tiny shop, reputed to be on the best places in tokyo, and it's going to be tough any later without reservations... but take your 19,800 that you would have spent on the wheat/wheat-dark mocha air force 1s and completely redefine what the word sushi means to you.

(try not to go on wednesday or sundays as the tsukiji fish market is supposed to be closed on those days, so the fish, depending on what you eat, might not be as fresh.)

hope this helps.


Just to add some details to Eric's email
Have to give UP's to Ceddie and Eric. That email has excellent info =)

I was in Tokyo in the past Oct. So just a few more pointers:

1) As mentioned above: "harajuku. get to either the jr harajuku station or the eidan meiji-jingumae station and walk down omote-sando. take the first left after meiji-dori" (quote) ..... REMEMBER he said the first left AFTER the meiji-dori.... not right at meiji-dori.... I think there is a GAP there.... go PASS the GAP (or whatever store at the intersection), stay LEFT and try to make a sharp left turn into a really, really SMALL street (I think it is right before a fast-food place... wendy's???) I missed that street 3 times before finding it correctly. You will see (within 1 min) after enterning the street a RECON store on your right (people lining up to get in.... ridiculous) and ATOMS store on your left (dude, HAVE to check it out... price is real high, but they sometimes got exclusive cross-products with other Gravis and Nike). Stussy, Head Porter, numerous sneaker stores are within that area.... go print out the map from and it will HELP =) But I mean, most stores got NO sign.... a Japanese trendy thing or something.... made me got lost so many times.... and hey, Bristol FCRB (Nike x some *** designer super limited clothing line) is close by, but I don't know how to describe to you..... maybe a simpler way is to look it up from basically it is just go back to meiji-dori (the main street you passed by before), walk in the direction AWAY from where you were coming, until almost the end of it (I think there is a diesel store), turn right with the road, and walk a little... the store is on your right, and again, with NO sign.... the significant part is that the store has all glass "automatic" door...

2) Shibuya. Nike shop. Must see, IMO. Got lots of Japanese exclusive Nike clothing (I like the material.... really hi-tech stuffs, they claimed =) across the street of the Nike shop plaza, you will see a shoe store.... I think... that one has some interesting stuffs too... but I mean, as mentioned before, almost all places carry the same set of old school kicks (popular in JP right now...), and the prices are ridiculous....

3) Last pointer... I have to say I agree with what was said before. Save the money for something else. Ha, I have to say that I maybe bias because I wear size 12 (which is close to impossible to find in Tokyo... unless in real big stores...). I mean, if you love COJP stuffs, you probably can get them here just as much as over there.... the thing is maybe you will find bigger selection there... good luck =)

P.S. - Electronic gadget shopping is a bit better though, I have to say... at least you will see models that you will NEVER see outside of Japan... so that justifies more on WHY you are willing to pay the price... and plus, VIDEO GAMES shopping is excellent too. Lots of old games.... Nintendo 8-bit.... hahahaha....

I meant ATMOS store. (not ATOMS). They had ATMOS x Gravis shoes, and ATMOS x Nike shoes before. I mean, at least "worth" checking out, even when you don't intend to buy anything...

Another thing, if you want to get some *** clothing, should check out UNIQLO stores (chain store, all over the place, I think). Clothes are quite reasonably priced, and quality is quite good.



(Don'tread this sentence.)

Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.
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thank you very much for the info. it was much needed and it will most likely prove to be invaluable. thanks again
i just did a one day transit stop in tokyo the other day and, in a word, the sneaker scene seems, well, lackluster.

please keep in mind that my conclusion is based on very brief walk throughs of shibuya and shinjuku, but my general impression is that air force 1s and dunks are slowly but surely losing favor, most likely because of over-production and over-exposure... the young japanese consumers are quite fickle...

yes, you can still find them on people's feet... yes, you can still find them in the shops... but it just isn't the same any more. the percentage of kids wearing air force 1s has dropped rather dramatically from the beginning of this year and there doesn't seem to be a clear 'must wear' shoe any more. one interesting note is that converse appears to be doing quite well.

(as a caveat, this conclusion is definitely influenced by my own disenchantment with sneaker collecting.)

expect all the same garden varieties of "rare" air force 1s and dunks that you can find all over ebay anyways... LA2s, greeks, dirtys, horses, energy-rushes, etc. for those interested, i didn't see any "i believe" or other truly rare air force 1s... but then i wasn't really looking.

one bonus is that many shops, for example the oione nike shop in shibuya, are having 30% off sales to unload slow moving merchandise which stretches back to the beginning of the year... think various stuff and perhaps unpopular air force highs like the rose gardens and sheeds. if you hit the oione nike shop in shibuya, don't forget shoe bar across the street... among other things, white with red and blue stripe adidas americanas for 4,000 (about $34).

one shoe that caught me off guard is the silverfish... is this the new superfly? intriguing white suede upper with ultralight 'silver foil' sections...

the olive green waffle racer...

a 'gold' (or is it 'bronze'?) converse weapon low...

red/white/blue air max 87s with enormous american flags on the tongue and heel...

the light stone/mesa orange-paul brown dunk low pro b's seem to be readily available, though at the normal nike jp retail of 13,000 (a little over $100)... like the recent oxide dunks released in the states, the stone portion of the upper is suede...

one of my all time favorites, the air terra goatek, has been released in both all-white and all-black versions, though only the all-white has the 'marbled' midsole...

heaven blue and neutral grey canvas air force 1 lows, both with matching metallic swooshes and heel tabs and translucent ice soles are around, at a reasonable 9,800... i believe these are from nike kr?

unfortunately the US$- conversion rate has soured quite a bit from its very favorable levels from this past january thru march.

there is another interesting street in shinjuku that runs perpendicular to lumine and mycity... look for what used to be 'UFJ' (some sort of bank which has since closed down) and you'll find a relatively new chapter location, s-four, and beams along it.

as a general aside, the weather in tokyo is unbearably muggy right now...

merdude -- don't get me wrong... for sneaker heads there's little that can beat tokyo... and the city itself is simply fascinating.

i guess the bottom line is if you're strictly into air force 1s and dunks, expect to pay top dollar (and then some) for relatively easy to obtain "exclusives" such as LA2s, dirtys, PR3s, SB dunks, etc. just don't be entirely surprised if you can't find the truly super rare shoes for sale.

if you're into other shoes, many makes and models can be had at relatively reasonable prices.

chapter is expensive, and the harajuku location seems to have the best selection.

and don't forget to eat... while tokyo itself has an insane cost of living, both conveyor belt sushi, a staple of the commuting working joe, and even ticket machine food, despite the low cost, can blow away most japanese restaurants outside of japan. a chef can finesse sushi technique all he (and i guess now, in a few rare instances, she) wants, but you simply can't beat freshness. though slightly higher in price, the ootoya chain, esp. the one in kabuki-cho in shinjuku, is also quite good.

if you're from the states, don't forget to visit muji.

from a fellow NT member (though i forget exactly who):

go to UENO right now!! you can get UENO station by YAMANOTE line and it will take about 20-30 min. from HARAJUKU or SHINJUKU.

there is AMEYA-YOKOCHO,called AMEYAKO, right ahead the UENO station and you can see many sneaker stores over there.

a couple of sopts you have to stop by in AMEYOKO is MITA-SNEAKERS and YAMAOTOKO-FOOT GEAR.these two stores are as illy as CHAPTER.
MITA-SNEAKER is located on the 4th(5th?) floor of AMEYOKO CENTER BUILDING.YAMAOTOKO is near can get to know these exact locations easily by asking some dudes rocking nice shoes in the streets.they will help you might find many dope kicks there.

BTW,retail price for BROWN/ORANGE DUNKs is 13,000 yen,or in about 100 in US dollers.
maybe you can find them some sopts i think.

eric - you ARE the man when it comes to tokyo spots!!

once again, i gotta thank you for your info - without it, my trip this past march to japan woulda been much less fun!!

oh, and be sure to check out the nowhere shop (a bathing ape) - really cool!!

and the ad21 shop is sweet too - nike concepts - but hella expensive.

shibuya, omote-sando and harajuku are definite musts tho. just roam and enjoy.
[size=+2]"SAY ME SOMETHING!!"[/size]
eric, thanks for all the info. i love dunks and af1s but if they are too pricey i'll be all over any other kicks that aren't readily available in the states. actually, the shoes i want to make sure i come back with are a pair of new balance 577s.

and i cant wait to eat japanese food in japan. i am way stoked on this trip. i'm just counting down the days. 17 to go. thanks again. peace

I was lucky enough to go to Tokyo for a month and a half to visit my friend and enjoy it man it's my favorite place in the world. Lucky lucky man. I wish i could go again.
"There is a dimension beyond that which is unknown to man. A dimension of sound, sight, and the mind. A dimension whose boundaries are only that of the imagination. There's the signpost up ahead. You've just crossed into... The Twilight Zone."
merdude.. you're gonna have to check out the NB shop then... you WILL be impressed.
[size=+2]"SAY ME SOMETHING!!"[/size]
there's a huge new balance store in harajuku.

follow the above instructions and make a left at meiji-dori... it's the main street with laforet, etc. please note that sephora has since closed down (!) since i wrote the above.

harajuku harajuku harajuku....
that's all i can say.. make sure u look in the corner stores... they are somwhat hidden, but u can find some nice treasures (really rare sneakers, bape sonics jerseys, etc). take the JR line (the light green line) that circles tokyo. get off at harajuku, and u'll see a funky looking gate with tons of ppl walking through it. go there. at the end, there is a new balance megastore to your right, and if u go across the street and to the left, there are soem rare sneaker shops as well. kyoto is not a bad choice to stop either; america town has lots of sneaker shops; one every block. u can even go to sho-ten-gais; i found foamposite max, a whole collection of dunks and NBs, as well as aj13s black/red for sale in these public places.
here is a pic of harajuku from my vacation. i took it on digicam and edited on photoshop.

Been riding the nuts of a trashy rock band from sacto since april 2001 as hikohta on NT!!!
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