A Japanese shopping experience
Everyone loves a bit of shopping, right? But what if you have an interest in Japanese products and design? Going online is certainly the most likely first option; however, you need to know from the offset what you want and where to look. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some Japanese shops in the UK to browse around?
Well, you’re in luck.
You’ll be delighted to know that there is in fact a Japanese retail presence — if you know where to look — with products that would be difficult to find elsewhere, even on the likes of Amazon. Shopping is an experience that is best enjoyed in person; to that end, here is a selection of 12 Japanese based shops that can be found on the UK high street so you can bring Japan into your home.
Japanese Clothing shops UK
Jackman is primarily a Japanese Sportswear brand with a bit of history. Using thicker, quality materials the company produces clothes that are simple in design but designed to last, all of which are made in Japan. Jackman’s site in London is in fact its only location outside of Japan.
Founded from the love of American baseball, Jackman’s founder Mitsugu Tanabe began by sewing baseball stockings from a room in Fukui. He developed new technologies and machines and grew his business, to the point that his company became one of the suppliers for the Japanese Olympic team in 1964.
The emphasis in baseball is still prevalent in the company and if you visit the shop in London you will definitely see some nods to the company beginnings.
- No.3 Park Street, Borough Market, London.
2. Issey Miyake
Issey Miyake is one of Japan’s most famous fashion designers. He is best known for his experimentation with modern and futuristic incorporations and non-restrictive designs, as well as the perfume ‘l’eau d’issey’.
Chiefly a women’s clothing designer, he has dedicated stores located in Mayfair in London; the buildings of which are as much part of the brand as the clothes themselves with their minimalist approach. Talking of brands, Issey Miyake over the years has released numerous sub-brands on his name, each representing new ideas and design choices, including a men’s range.
The premises in London features a portion from numerous brands including perfumes and accessories (the men’s range is absent). However, being a top Japanese fashion designer, if you do intend to take a look, it may be just that.
- 10 & 33 Brook Street, Mayfair, London.
Next is a shop with a particular focus: Socks.
If your someone desperately looking for a quality pair of socks Tabio is the go-to place. Japanese craftsman can often go beyond what is normally considered by many others; Tabio itself mentions that it pays close attention to stitching pressure and room temperature when producing their socks in Japan.
A take on the word ‘tabi’ meaning the traditional split Japanese sock, Tabio has a single presence in London featuring every possible pattern and style you could wish for — as well as tights and other accessories.
- 51 Neal Street London.
4. Yohji Yamamoto
Here we have another high end Japanese clothing designer in the form of Yohji Yamamoto. This Japanese designer — much like Issey Miyake — are honorary members of the Royal Designers of Industry; both also receiving numerous awards for fashion.
Yohji Yamamoto’s designs focus on darker almost monochrome colours exclusively, with a unique flair for drapey and layered looks. There is almost a gothic feel to a lot of Yohji’s collections, one of them being named as such. The store itself is in total contrast with a bright, open and inviting feel, look out for it near Mayfair.
- 14-15 Conduit St, London W1S 2XJ
5. Sunny Siders
Sunny Siders is a small independently run store that focuses on bringing together a whole host of Japanese brands.
The focus of Sunny Siders is about curating a selection of Japanese clothing that are produced by somewhat unknown Japanese designers. There are pieces from the likes of Jackman as we introduced earlier, but interestingly there are many other brands such as ‘Fujito’ and ‘Still by hand’ that don’t have their own physical store, making their availability somewhat a rarity.
- 42 Rivington Street, London
Of all the Japanese clothing shops on this list so far, Uniqlo is the company with the biggest presence in the UK with a total of 15 outlets; compared to the others, its also the most affordable and accessible for everyday use.
Uniqlo fills a middle of the road seat in terms of producing well-designed clothing without being extortionate, whilst not being so cheap to warrant suspicion. There is a wide selection of styles to choose from that would rival many other high street brands that are more familiar to us UK shoppers, what is quite unique with Uniqlo however (mind the pun), is that it’s a company that loves collaborating.
You will find a huge range of shirts that feature marvel, Disney and popular gaming characters — which is not entirely unusual — however you will also find Tees embodying the designs of artists and painters such as Andy Warhol and Hokusai — among others.
Click here to find the nearest Uniqlo store.
45R, a Japanese clothing store that was featured previously on this list has unfortunately closed. However an article regarding Japanese denim — something 45R was known for — may still be an interesting read.
Japanese homeware shops UK
7. Native & co
The first homeware shop on the list pays tribute to products that initially appear quite simple in design but are in reality exquisitely refined.
There are a variety of everyday products available at Native & Co; a good emphasis is on tableware, such as cups, bowels, trays, glasses etc but also kitchenware, candles and even Hinoki cypress wood bathware is available. It’s the real deal!
The Japanese ethos in simplicity but functional design is prevalent at Native & Co who precure products from Japan made by specialist craftsmen. It’s a case of the longer you look at a specific product, the more you begin to understand its beauty.
- 116 Kensington Park Road, London.
Wagumi is primarily another Japanese homeware shop but with an assortment of other products available. While Native & co specialises in the appreciation of simplicity, the range within Wagumi has more tangible design.
Patterns, colours, and tactile elements are more prominent here, and Wagumi is said to work with individual Japanese designers and regional producers to source their products. This means there is a uniqueness that very few places in the UK will match.
Aside from ceramics, and teaware, expect to find coasters, bags, cloth coverings and a variety of other useful products to fill your home.
- 1.08 Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House St, London.
Muji is essentially a Japanese department store. Whatever it is you’ll be needing whether it be for work or home, Muji is the kind of shop that’s got it covered. Clothing, furniture, beauty or food for example, all have a presence inside this Japanese brand.
Unlike many other companies on this list, a lot of the merchandise isn’t manufactured in Japan (although there is a good number); however, the products that are available and the shop layout feels very Japanese with its focus on a minimalist style.
Here’s why: Muji was built on the philosophy of ‘non-branded quality goods’, this means that not a single item in the store has a logo or brand name stamped into it, this is alongside its conscious decision to streamline its packaging to deliver on their ethos of simplicity.
Click here to find your nearest Muji store.
Until now, most of these featured Japanese shops throughout the UK have focused on the serious side of Japanese design, Kenji instead throws it the other way and indulges in the fun-loving and quirky side of Japanese design. (we’ve all seen some horribly fantastic products we didn’t know we needed)
Kenji is full of an assortment of fun, affordable and practical Japanese inspired products to brighten your day. From plushies to a whale toothbrush stand, everything is a little kawaii. Personally, I didn’t know I needed a samurai umbrella until I saw one at Kenji.
11. Japan Craft
Japan Craft is a single company with two very distinct shops accommodating vastly different products.
Both located at Camden in London; the first focuses on an assortment of traditional style products such as puzzle boxes, lucky cats and woodblock prints; the second is a homage to Japanese pop culture which mostly relates to Anime and Manga.
In both cases however, there are products that are not found elsewhere on this list.
- Traditional craft shop – Unit 2, Market Hall Lock Place, Chalk Farm Rd, London.
- Anime and Manga shop – Unit 62, The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Rd, London.
12. Tokyo bike
Last on the list is something that is a little bit different; a Tokyo based bike shop — Tokyo bike.
Cycling in Japan is significantly more popular than in the UK and not just as a leisure activity. So, a country with over 70 million bikes — more than the UK population — should know a thing or two about cycling.
Tokyo bike specialises in bicycles that are built for everyday city use with an emphasis on comfort over anything else. There are a handful of variations available to buy as well as a whole host of accessories, but its services aren’t restricted to the point of sale. There’s also options to test ride before you buy, bike hire scheme, and a comprehensive repair service for after care.
- 87-89 Tabernacle St, London.
We’ve discovered that there is no shortage of options when it comes to a bit of Japanese retail therapy. In fact, this is just a handful that are waiting to be investigated — and be investigated they should.
These Japanese shops in the UK bring something a bit unique, not just in the products but in the experience itself. Considering the work and craftsmanship that has gone into a lot of the merchandise in the shops above, there seems to be an injustice at the thought of buying them online. If you’ve been wanting to feel the wonders of Japanese design in your own home, there’s now no reason not to go and check out some of these hidden marvels.