Top 25 Things to Buy at Tokyu Hands (And the Secret to Their Success!)
Where do I find interesting things to buy in Japan? What about all the unique Japanese stuff I've been hearing about? To answer these questions, we suggest visiting Tokyu Hands, the emporium of all sorts of lifestyle goods from kitchenware to cosmetics to stationery. They carry many items that you might have seen on TV or social media, hinting at all the different ways to improve your lifestyle that Japan has come up with. Bookmark this page, as we give a breakdown of the life-improving products that make Tokyu Hands truly special!
Sep 03 2019 (Jan 29 2020)
*Article written in collaboration with Tokyu Hands
Table of Contents
What Kind of Store is Tokyu Hands Anyway?
With the motto "Hint Marketing", Tokyu Hands is a store that tries to offer its customers a marketplace for lifestyle goods. To be more specific, they want to bring more creative options for lifestyle products to consumers. Just like how convenience stores try to highlight convenience, big brands try to associate with quality, and fish markets push the idea of freshness, Tokyu Hands is choosing to go with "hints". From cosmetics, stationery, kitchenware, DIY goods, and travel accessories to unique and useful items, Tokyu Hands has managed to capture the hearts of its customers by collecting and offering products from all over the world. These items act as "hints" or clues to give customers an idea of how these charming products can help with their lifestyles, making them wonder how they ever lived without Tokyu Hands in the first place.
* Click here to get a 5% off discount coupon (only for tsunagu Japan readers!)
Tokyu Hands Product Rankings: Products That Offer Hints for Creating New Lifestyles
What kinds of products would actually be popular at a store where plenty of both Japanese and foreign customers come to shop? We made our way to the Shinjuku branch of Tokyu Hands to investigate the popular categories and product lines based on the store's sales data from the first half of 2019.
1. Bags and Travel Accessories
CUBO Suitcase 100L (LOJEL) [34,000 Yen + Tax]
This is a CUBO suitcase from LOJEL, a brand known for its focus on quality and functionality. The Japanese brand first started selling its products overseas in countries like Canada and Singapore, but as its popularity picked up after a few years, its products started being reverse-imported back into Japan, where they became a huge hit. LOJEL is now sold in over 30 countries.
The reason this suitcase stands out is for its incredible functionality and attention to detail. The designers drew from their own experiences traveling to come up with a suitcase that opens from the front as opposed to folding open. As a result, this innovative bag takes up around half the normal space when packing or rummaging through your suitcase. Whether it's at the airport, a train station, the hotel lobby, or even in a car, you can access your things with ease. You also no longer have to worry so much about fitting large items into your suitcase as tall items can just go straight into the bag. Extremely convenient for all kinds of travel, this series has also become very popular in the media in recent years. The large size bag weighs only 4.5 kg, making it much lighter than it appears!
Mini Folding Umbrella Heart Embroidery Striped (wpc) [2,200 Yen + Tax]
Like the suitcase above, a small umbrella is another highly sought after item for visitors coming to Japan. Lately, a company named Wpc is making waves with its line of mini folding umbrellas. Working under the company slogan "Creating new possibilities", they have been releasing products that mix functionality with fashion for people of all ages.
These five-stage folding umbrellas are compact and easy to carry around, and each comes with a zip-up case to make storage even easier. The popular design is aimed to be user-friendly, so they even have a swivel clasp on one end so that you don't have to put it back into your bag after use. Just clip it onto the strap of your bag and off you go!
While they're designed to be used in rainy weather, you'll be happy to learn that these umbrellas can also protect the user from UV rays, so it doubles as a sun umbrella. At only 17 cm in length when closed and weighing only 200 grams, they are affordable, easy to use, and handy in both rain or shine, making these a useful item to look out for.
Umbrella innovation has become something of an art in Japan. For more examples of it, ranging from the whimsical to the functional, see our article here:
Sun Umbrella Range
For the past few years, sun umbrella sales have been rapidly increasing during the summer season. Up until now, most of these umbrellas have been very simple, usually coming in either black or silver. These past few years, however, manufacturers have been coming up with new patterns, cute embroideries, and even designs that can shield you from 99% of the heat. Japan is a country with intense heat, humidity, and bright rays, so even if you don't normally use a sun umbrella, it might just be time to start. Take a trip around Japan in the summer heat and you might come to treasure these umbrellas.
Porter Tanker Shoulder Bags (Yoshida & Co)
Porter is the main brand of Yoshida & Co., a company that loves hand-sewn products so much that they use the phrase "isshin-nyukon" (one stitch, all soul) as their corporate motto. Just like how each piece is carefully sewn together, each product that this brand produces starts with the careful selection of materials and design. Dedication is needed at each stage in the manufacturing process to craft items that only get better as they're used, lasting years upon years. This is their greatest advantage, striving to make products that focus on functionality and simplicity for all situations, casual or otherwise.
After 1983, Porter started selling products under the name Tanker. This particular line of shoulder bags is based on the MA-1 flight jacket, featuring 3 original types of materials including a nylon twill outer, polyester cotton middle layer, and nylon taffeta inner. The resulting bonded material is light and soft, and is accentuated with a bright orange color lining.
Due to how light the three-layered material is, these bags are very well suited for travel. They don't take up much space in your luggage and come with various pockets, including an open pocket for a phone or passport and a clear pocket in the front compartment. This open compartment will come in handy when you are handed a pamphlet, purchase a ticket, or need to quickly store change on the go.
For more portable bags and pouches, more on the cute and stylish side, check out our article here:
Stainless Bottle (Tiger) [4,500 Yen + Tax]
Under the motto "To spread joyous harmony throughout the world", Tiger Corporation enjoys a large share of the market for thermal kitchenware like thermal flasks and induction heating rice cookers. One of their most popular products is their line of stainless steel flasks which are often praised for their ability in keeping drinks hot or cold for longer.
The bottles pictured above with their cute illustrations is highly recommended for kids or anyone who likes cute designs. The "super clean" interior finish helps to prevent stains and odors from building up, while also being easy to clean. Just a quick wash is enough to keep the bottle in great condition.
The bottom part is also laser-welded to prevent any leaks, which means the entire bottle can be soaked while washing. All the different parts can be taken apart and washed individually, including the cap, cup, and mouthpiece, and it even dries quickly, too!
The one-touch design also makes switching between the two available drinking options quick and easy. You can choose between pouring your drink into a cup or drinking straight from the bottle. At only 210 grams, the bottle is also lightweight, too.
Stainless Mug Bottle Poketle [1,200 Yen + Tax]
When searching for portable drinking bottles in Japan, there are a wealth of options to choose from. These days, you can choose the size, color, and shape that suits your individual needs. Another item that has been attracting a fair amount of attention recently is the Poketle. The name is a portmanteau of "pocket" and "little", and it is so small that it actually fits in your pocket. This stainless steel bottle holds 120 mL, which makes it perfect for when you're on the go. Whether you want to keep it in your pocket for when you get thirsty, use it to take some medication while you're out, or even keep it by your bedside on hot summer nights, the possibilities are endless!
We've also compiled a list of innovative mugs, for home or mobile use, that you can pick up only in Japan. Check out our article below!
Kitchen Scissors (Green Bell) [2,800 Yen + Tax]
These scissors are made by Green Bell in Gifu, one of the major blade-producing areas in Japan. A lot of work goes into making a good pair of scissors like these, as there's more to it than just attaching two blades together! You also need to pay attention to things like how each blade moves, where the blades intersect to create a clean cut, and whether or not it needs a serrated edge to prevent food from slipping while you cut. It also needs to be well designed to ensure its longevity, taking into account how easily it can be taken apart and cleaned, as well as what material for the handles would improve sanitation. It needs to be easy to handle and comfortable to use, yet also feature a locking mechanism to prevent children from using it and hurting themselves. On top of all of this, it must also come with a hole so that you can hang it up for easy storage. All of this attention to detail comes together in these scissors, all so you can cut both hard and soft food with ease using just this one tool.
Ceramic Kitchen Set (Kyocera) [3,980 Yen + Tax]
Kyocera's Ceramic Kitchen Set comes with two ceramic knives, a peeler, and a chopping board. Ceramic knives tend to be lighter than their steel counterparts, making them easier to use. You also don't have to worry about the blade reacting with your food as you might with other blades. This helps to ensure that the ingredients you cut stays as fresh as possible, particularly when dealing with vegetables, fruit, or sashimi. Their weight helps to reduce the stress to your arms, and since they don't rust, they also keep their edge for longer.
The chopping board has a diamond pattern embossed into the surface to help prevent food from slipping, as well as some handy measurements to guide you in your chopping endeavors. The peeler is also ceramic, so it will have no trouble peeling fruit as it won't rust. It is also fitted with potato sprout removers on the sides.
The color is reminiscent of cherry blossom petals, which in combination with the white ceramic blades gives these tools a cheery look that is sure to brighten up any kitchen. This set would make a great present for any smaller household.
15 cm Nakiri Knife (Kyocera) [10,500 Yen + Tax]
Everything about this knife screams easy to use! By incorporating flexible ceramic in its construction, these knives are harder and hold their edge for longer. Not only are they 20% stronger than other ceramic knives, they are also more resistant to cracking and chipping. The thoughtful people at Kyocera have also added a rubber grip to make it easier to hold and use. This knife can withstand temperatures up to 110℃, so you can clean it in the dishwasher without any worries.
Stainless Yukihira Nabe with Measure (20 cm, Yoshikawa) [3,000 Yen + Tax]
To add to the list of things that are easier to handle for daily use, we have the Yukihira Nabe from Yoshikawa. Designed with ease of use in mind, this saucepan is designed with a wooden handle that's gentler on your hands. The wood also helps with your grip on the pan in case your hands are wet. Yoshikawa have also included spouts on either side of the pan to help you pour from one pot to another, no matter if you're left or right handed. This saucepan even has measurements on the side to help you with measuring and portioning!
The cost-performance ratio of Japanese stationery has earned it many fans both domestically and internationally. In fact, getting their hands on some stationery has become a big part of why people want to visit Japan in the first place. With innovative and uniquely-designed items made with impeccable quality, all available at a modest price, who could say no?
Frixion Ball-Point Pen (Pilot)
The Frixion Pen, a product that's been on the market for a while now, is a pen that that you can erase. These pens use a specially developed ink called "Frixion Ink", which loses its color according to temperature changes. Each pen comes with a special eraser on the back end which you can use to rub out the ink. This friction creates heat, and past a certain temperature the ink turns clear. Slightly different in principle from an eraser, this method doesn't leave any eraser shavings behind. It also leaves less of a mark then pencils since the ink itself changes color. Do note that since it can be rubbed out, you might not want to use this pen for anything important like signing official documents.
EMOTT Series, 40 Colors (Mitsubishi Pencil) [200 Yen + Tax]
With the advent of social media, there has been an increased focus on style and looks in everything we do. So naturally, people tend to choose products depending on their design and aesthetic, seeing it as a form of self-expression. Products need to be designed with this in mind, answering the question of what would it be like to be seen carrying it - would it show off your style? Your sensibilities? Or how adorable you are? Each item reveals a fragment of our personality, slowly building into a picture of who we are.
The good people at Mitsubishi have put a lot of thought into this for their pens and came up with the EMOTT, which are stylish, water-based marking pens that come in 40 different colors split into 8 groups. Most pens of a similar design tend to become too thick, fade, or have their tips flatten or break after extended use, but not EMOTT. These pens are built with an outer cover that ensures a consistently thin line. This also reduces the stress on your hands as you write, and as a bonus, the ink is also made to be resistant to bleeding.
What you can do with masking tape is really only limited by your imagination! If you stick it on stationery, small items, or even furniture, they can act as a memo or label. Add some designs and color and they become useful decorations instead. Easy to use, you can change them up to match your mood whenever you like since they can be easily removed. In Japan you might come across shelves like the one pictured above, where they've taken masking tape a step further. You will find many different types of tape with all sorts of cute Japanese designs already printed on them, just like in the pictures below. These make for great souvenirs and are extremely popular with girls!
Senjya Fuda Strap (J-KANJI) [680 Yen + Tax]
Over 300 years ago in Japan, there was a culture of offering fuda (Japanese amulets/placards) with your name or address written on when you visit a shrine or temple. These senjya fuda straps take the fuda from back in those days and put a modern spin on them by taking Western names and fitting them on the fuda with kanji characters. They have hundreds of varieties, including ones that have other Asian names or even flags and the names of Warring States era warriors on them. Seeing your name written in kanji for the first time can be quite exciting, so why not grab a few for your friends and family? Even if you are of Asian descent and already have an Asian name, it might still be cool to see it written in Japanese kanji, so these make for a uniquely Japanese souvenir.
Naginata Fountain Pen (Sailor) [50,000 Yen + Tax]
When it comes to Japanese fountain pens, everything is about precision and how it can write beautifully. They need to be refined so that writing Japanese characters becomes neat and clean, and techniques such as stops, curves, and flicks are easy to perform. They are designed so that when the pen is held upright you can draw a thin line, and when it is tipped to the side you get a thicker line. Try it out for yourself sometime and you might notice the amount of skill and craftsmanship that goes into crafting one of these amazingly smooth nibs. Sailor also offers plenty of other fountain pens, such as the Pominade series for beginners, their original Profit series, the pop-inspired Candy series, or one of the limited edition series. The limited series includes some extravagant styles based off traditional arts such as Arita ceramics or maki-e paintings. With so many limited edition pens to choose from, this is your chance to indulge in the ultimate writing experience!
* Click here to get a 5% off discount coupon (only for tsunagu Japan readers!)
We've only skimmed the surface of stationary items that you can pick up in Japan. If that's struck your fancy, you can dive a bit further into this world using our article below! (For the true fanatics, we've attached a whole list of articles at the bottom of this page, that you can use to fill up your shopping list!)
Lash Version Up (Ettusais) [1,000 Yen + Tax]
This is a mascara base that seems to elevate your mascara to new heights as you apply more, making your eyelashes look longer, thicker, and darker. Just put some on before your usual mascara and it will improve that mascara's volume. It firmly keeps the curls up for a long time. Not only does it not clump, it also lets the mascara properly stick to the eyelashes. The comb it comes with allows you to easily reach both corners of your eyes. You can even use it on its own, as there are black fibers in the clear liquid that help improve volume.
Keana Nadeshiko Rice Mask (Ishizawa Laboratories) [650 Yen + Tax]
Keana Nadeshiko is a rice-based skincare line that helps with dry skin. Made with a rice serum derived from 100% domestically produced rice, it helps your skin feel moist and delicate, like freshly cooked rice. Sometimes dry skin can have uneven pores, and if uncared for it can lead to rough skin that is noticeably dull.
This thick sheet mask sticks directly onto your skin, ready to confer all sorts of moisturizing agents. This will help you strive for that soft, moist, supple skin.
G Lotion (HABA) [1,800 Yen + Tax]
One of HABA's best-selling products, this refreshing natural lotion replenishes the plumpness, moisture, and the shine of your skin. Utilizing minerals extracted from sasa kurilensis (a type of bamboo) in the Japanese mountains and mixing it with easy-to-absorb minerals obtained from the sea, this shikonin extract formula will keep your skin in tip-top condition. Passing through the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of your skin, it will smooth out your skin and revitalize it to a state where it looks moist, delicate, and healthy. A premium product that is easy to use for anyone who has dry skin.
Eye Opening Liner (UZU) [1,500 Yen + Tax]
UZU is a company that is constantly seeking to step beyond the conventional concept of what eyeliner is and reinvent it into something for everyone, regardless of age, gender, or race. Their line of eyeliners is designed for utility, inviting their customers to experiment and play with it in whatever way they wish. This liner creates an intense, glossy finish that adds a sense of depth to the eye.
Using new ingredients, UZU have carefully developed this eyeliner so that it can be used by absolutely anyone. It won't run in hot and humid environments, nor if you have oily skin. Instead it will stay firmly in place regardless of your skin type through rain, hail, or shine. You'll also be happy to note that they also don't add any dyes to the eyeliner!
For just the little extra effort of opening up a pack of bath salts, you can make your everyday bath into a fun, relaxing soak that soothes your body and refreshes your mind. It's said that a person's sense of smell is closely linked to their nervous system, directly influencing our ability to relax. The bath salts themselves are also said to have many benefits, including improving circulation, helping the body retain warmth, and moisturizing the skin. There are many, many types on the market, so just pick one with a fragrance you like and go from there. You can find plenty of bath salts with cute packaging, too, so they can make for great souvenirs!
5. DIY and Craft
Amane Showerhead (Omco) [7,380 Yen + Tax]
Perhaps you're wondering how a showerhead is popular enough to make it onto this list? Well, don't underestimate this unassuming contraption! As anybody who has experienced water pressure issues might know, one of the downsides of renting apartments is that you don't always have control over the water pressure. That's where this product, called Amane, comes in. Hailed by some as a "magical showerhead", it is capable of producing a high water pressure stream from a system with lower water pressure.
The tiny holes on the shower spray plate create such an unbelievably thin stream of water that it feels like mist falling on your skin. The 615 ultra-fine holes are only 0.19 mm in diameter, which are the smallest spray plate holes in the world. Thanks to this, the water can spray out at around 50 km/hr, 2.5 times the speed of normal showerheads. However, even at this speed, the water still feels gentle against the skin.
The entire showerhead is sourced and manufactured in Japan where they take extra care to ensure its quality. Omco has taken ease of use into consideration, and after many prototypes has achieved a high-quality product that is both sleek and certified to save water: around 24% in a low pressure system and 35% in a high pressure system. Give it a go and you won't be disappointed!
Sneaker Clean Stick (JEWEL) [800 Yen + Tax]
Have you ever had that one pair of shoes that you love, only to have them get too dirty to wear? And because of how attached you are, you just can't bear to throw them out? We always try to keep our favorite shoes in the best condition, but sometimes it just can't be helped. Before you know it, stains and dirt start building up, and you just can't find the time to work on cleaning it up.
With just this one eraser-like stick, you can clean all sorts of shoes and materials like mesh, suede, canvas, rubber, and so on. Even unwieldy sneakers become a cinch to clean as this eraser requires no water and no brush that can potentially damage your shoes. The green end is for suede and rubber while the yellow-green is for mesh and canvas.
This product is getting so popular internationally that foreign customers often come to Tokyu Hands trying to hunt it down with just a picture on their phone to show to store clerks!
Premium Shoe Cleaner (JASON MARKK) [2,000 Yen + Tax]
Up until now, many sneaker enthusiasts have struggled to find a cleanser they can use safely on their favorite shoes. The people at Jason Markk have developed a new cleaner just for this very problem. Made with 98.3% natural ingredients, this shoe cleaner is eco-friendly, and their unique formula effectively cleans shoes without the use of strong chemicals or abrasive elements.
Repel Spray (JASON MARKK) [2,000 Yen + Tax]
Once you are done cleaning your beloved shoes, why not protect them from future harm? This spray creates a barrier that improves the lifespan of the shoes as well as their breathability. It also helps to waterproof the shoes, preventing water and grime from building up in the first place.
This protectant is water-based, so it's safe to use on materials such as suede, leather, nubuck, canvas, plastic, nylon, and cotton. It's also been making waves in sneaker aficionado communities and in the media recently. A 5.4 ounce bottle (159.7 mL) is enough to coat around 12 pairs of sneakers.
Kintsugi Beginner Set [7,600 Yen + Tax]
Here's another familiar story: Johnny was washing the dishes one night when Mary's favorite dish slipped out of his hand and hit the corner of the sink. Thankfully it didn't shatter, but it did chip the rim of the dish. You might be inclined to think, "These things happen, what can you do?", but the Japanese people have a solution called "kintsugi".
Kintsugi is the traditional art of repairing chipped or even broken crockery without using artificial glue while also adding a certain Japanese aesthetic. It involves the use of urushi, a type of lacquer made from the sap of the urushi tree in Japan, and some metallic powders to restore the crockery. Urushi is a natural substance, and when it dries it becomes extremely hard and resistant, making it perfect for the job. The metallic powder is added to enhance the crack between the broken pieces as opposed to trying to hide it, transforming it into a new piece of art.
This whole technique takes time to master, but this kit has you covered. It comes with all the tools you need to get started, including a bottle of urushi with a brush cap. Much like a nail polish bottle, the brush is easy to use, so you don't need to worry about making a mess while you work.
6. Our Recommendations!
Here are some favorite picks from the staff here at tsunagu Japan!
Hand Coffee Grinder Cubic Mill (Kalita) [6,000 Yen + Tax]
English Editorial Team (UAE/20s/Female)
Sporting a charming cube design and a low-key timber finish, this coffee mill will blend perfectly into any kitchen. Both the drawer and the mill are attached with magnets, so it's easy to assemble. It also comes with a lid to prevent coffee fragments from flying everywhere while you grind. The conical burr is made of cast iron and you can adjust the coarseness of the grind with just a twist of the screw.
Kalita is a Japanese company that produces all sorts of contraptions to bring out the best in your coffee beans. They center on usability and design, and most of their products look good enough to go straight onto Instagram!
Pocket Straw (ZOKU) [1,200 Yen + Tax]
Traditional Chinese Editorial Team (Taiwan/20s/Female)
With all the recent efforts to reduce plastic waste comes a rise in popularity in alternatives for our daily recyclable goods. This stainless steel straw is collapsible, can be used from both sides, and comes with a brush to help you clean it. The manufacturer has even gone the extra mile and attached a little silicone mouthpiece so that your lips don't freeze from the stainless steel!
Tokyu Hands: A "Hint Market" That Supports Your Lifestyle
This concept of a "Hint Market" is the answer dreamt up by Tokyu Hands at a time when a consumer's needs are influenced by the ever-changing popular trends, internet fads, social media, and the growth of online shopping. They provide hints on how to improve your lifestyle based on how you want to live. Customers come here to get inspiration on how they can create their ideal lifestyle. Tokyu Hands in turn follows all of these wonderful clues about their lifestyles and prepares more products to suit their needs in the future. Through this cycle, Tokyu Hands will try to bring this conceptual "Hint Market" closer and closer to reality.
* Tokyu Hands stores can be found all over Japan. When you're in Japan, please refer to this list to find the nearest store to you.
*The information contained in this article was collected in August 2019.
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.