Beauty City Guide (1) – Tokyo

by PJ on Friday, July 4, 2008

in _Beauty City Shopping Guide, all about Japanese cosmetics

(Takashimaya Shinjuku:
one of my favorite department stores on earth)
(image from

Today I start the Beauty City Guide series, which will take you to three cities and look at some of the best places to shop. These articles are mostly based on my own experiences and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you would like to add to them or ask a question, do please leave a comment.

This series simply has to start with Tokyo, probably the best place on this planet to shop for beauty products.


If you have One Day

Don’t hesitate and head straight to the Shinjuku area. The Isetan Department Store (Shinjuku branch) is within walking distance from Shinjuku Station. This buzzing emporium is one of the best places to see high-end Japanese beauty brands at a glance.

If you have more time, stop by Takashimaya Department Store (Shinjuku branch), which resides at the south entrance/exit of Shinjuku Station. The neat and structured (and almost regal) layout of the beauty department offers the ultimate browsing experience.

One Weekend

Also try:

Seibu (Ikebukuro branch). I think this and the two above are probably the best three department stores for beauty.

Ginza. For me, Shinjuku is great for pure retail indulgence, while the Ginza area has an upscale and less frantic atmosphere. Beauty-wise, try Mitsukoshi Ginza and Matsuya Ginza. (Matsuya is my favorite department store in this area). Also, stop by the OPAQUE boutique (across the street from Matsuya).

Drugstores. They are relatively easy to find in central Tokyo, particularly around bigger public transportation stations. One of the largest chains is Matsumoto Kiyoshi, whose yellow sign is very easy to spot.

Drugstores carry budget beauty lines whose quality is by no means inferior, and these inexpensive brands offer a great way to try Japanese cosmetics if you have a smaller budget for beauty shopping. (You can also see some department store lines from Shiseido, Kanebo, Kosé, and Sofina in drugstores.) Discounts are offered on many lines, and the amount of reduction and the contents of the value sets can vary even in different branches under the same chain. It can be fun to browse around, but if you don’t have much time and if you see something you like with a good price, consider buying it there and then.

One Week

Also try:

Shu Uemura Omotesanto Boutique. A must for all Shu Uemura fans, it features exclusive items only available in this store.

Shiseido Cosmetic Garden on Omotesanto. This store doesn’t offer retail service. It is a showroom for all the Shiseido products. You can sit down, relax, and test out all the items without feeling any pressure to buy anything.

Hakuho-do. This traditional Japanese business mainly deals with calligraphy supplies but also makes top-quality makeup brushes. Though expensive, they are must-sees for any makeup brush connoisseur. (Check the (English) link above for addresses. If you happen to be near the Los Angeles area, there is a branch in Torrance.)

– Asakusa. Close to Senso-ji Temple, Hyakusuke features traditional Japanese cosmetics used by geisha performers and for other traditional stage productions.

MAMEW. If you are a mascara fanatic, stop by the MAMEW boutique, which is in the Daikanyama area.

– More department stores. Try Lumine, Odakyu, and Keio in Shinjuku (all surrounding Shinjuku Station), Tobu in Ikebukuro, Seibu in Sibuya, and Seibu in Yurakucho.

– More fun in drugstore goodie hunting. See if you can find the best deal! (Some other drugstore chains include Sundrug, Ainz & Tulpe and Plaza Style.)


Unlike the UK, the seasonal sales in Japan don’t seem to cover beauty items. So I personally think the best time to go to Tokyo for beauty shopping is simply right after most of the latest spring/fall makeup lines are available. This would be late February and late August (even though many are available in January/July). If you also want to try the latest spring/fall base makeup releases, go one month later.


– Most department stores close at around 8pm, while many drugstores remain open until later.

– Beauty items purchased in Japan are usually not returnable.

– For information on Japanese beauty brands, please check out my “All About Japanese Cosmetics” category or have a glance over my “Read by Topics” and “Thoughts on My 10 Favorite Brands” lists on the sidebar. Also, please check out these related posts:

Loving Japanese Brands” series

Japanese Brand Profile” series

If I Could Go to Japan Right Now

Next stop: Taipei is probably one of the best places for beauty shopping when it comes to value for money on a regular basis. Find out why next week, along with my shopping recommendations.

Updated on April 20, 2009:

One reader, Kuri, has kindly posted a comment and mentioned that Shiseido Cosmetic Garden had closed. (It is a bit of a shame…)

Thank you for letting me know this, Kuri!

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Nic Nic Friday, July 4, 2008

hey PJ, thanks for this post.. im gonna actually go and work in Japan from mid august – i cant believe you said the best time to check out the fall makeup lines around late aug – im def gonna have a look.. i believe makeup will not be a priorty when i start working and living there, but there’s no harm in looking ;)


Becky Friday, July 4, 2008

Ah dang, I’m going to Taipei tomorrow!! And I dunno where to go…:[ but I’m living in Kaohsiung if you want to do that for a city lol…

Great post!!


PJ Friday, July 4, 2008

Hi Nic Nic,

August is definitely a great time to check out the latest makeup in Japan. By the time you settle down, all the new goodies will be waiting for you! I hope you will enjoy browsing and testing out everything. :)

Let me know if you come across any great store!

Thank you very much for your comment again. All the best in Japan! :)


PJ Friday, July 4, 2008

Hi Becky,

Just a quick reply for you. If you would like to, do please e-mail me and I can tell you about a couple of places in Taipei that are worth going to. (By the way, my post on Taipei will actually include some places in Kaohsiung…:))

(Please find my e-mail address towards the top of my blog.)

Thank you very much for your comment again, and enjoy Taipei! :)


Kng Suan Friday, July 4, 2008

Hi Hi PJ!!

I wanna go Japan again! Been there too often last year for work (4 times in 12 months), that I just wanna go again and again…

Anyway, if u don’t mind, here are some of my tips for beauty shopping in Tokyo.

(1) Drugstore Shopping – One of the better places to go is Shibuya. There are at least 4 drugstores along the road between Shibuya 109 and Shibuya junction (the busiest junction in the world), including two Matsumoto Kiyoshi branches. So your selection here is probably the widest and one of the best places for shopping for the best deal.

(2) If you only have time for ONE drugstore, may I recommend Ainz- Tulpe in Harajuku. This place stocks almost ALL the drugstore brands available, including the harder-to-find or lesser known brands like Ettusais, Susie N.Y., Kiss and Gransenbon. Hence a good stop if u have time for only one drugstore or looking for that obscure drugstore brand.


PJ Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hi Kng Suan,

Thank you very much for your tips!!

Shibuya is indeed a great area for drugstore shopping. I remember picking up a few things there and being in one of the stores until it was about to close at 11pm. :) Ainz & Tulpe in Harajuku is definitely a great place to stop by as well.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts! :)


Chica Sunday, July 6, 2008

PJ you are so awesome – wicked idea for a series :)
Just a few more reasons for me to add to my list of why I need to go to Tokyo :D
x x


CC Sunday, July 6, 2008

I do like to go to the drugstore you’ve mentioned.


xy Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hi PJ, thanks for the recommendations, I’ll be heading to Tokyo in August so this arrives just in time for my trip!


PJ Monday, July 7, 2008

Hi Chica,

I am glad you enjoy this post, and thank you for your kind words. :) I hope you’ll like the other two posts to come!

Thank you for your comment again! :)


PJ Monday, July 7, 2008

Hi CC,

Thank you for reading this post. :) Do let me know your thoughts if you have a chance to visit some of the drugstores in Japan.

Thank you for stopping by my blog again! :)


PJ Monday, July 7, 2008

Hi Xy,

It is so great that you are going to Tokyo so soon! I hope you will have a wonderful time. Perhaps you can give us an update on beauty shopping in Tokyo. :)

Thank you for your comment again! :)


Syen Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hey PJ, Thanks for a great post! I’m not going to Japan anytime soon, but if I ever do, will definitely read up this post again before I leave.

However, I will be going to Hong Kong at the end of this month. Any chance you can go a post about where’s great to shop in HK? That would be really helpful. =)



PJ Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hi Syen,

Thank you very much for reading this post. I hope it will turn out to be helpful when you do visit Tokyo! :)

I have been to Hong Kong once many years ago, but I have not really been following the beauty shopping scene there and I am afraid I won’t be able to write a similar guide post on the place. I am sorry about this. But if I have a chance to visit Hong Kong again, I will certainly write about my recommendations.

Thank you for posting your comment again! :)


Anonymous Thursday, July 10, 2008

have you tried chifure?


bell Friday, July 11, 2008

hi, been lurking around for quite awhile, was really excited u are going to post the taiwan guide. Anyway, just checking by any chances u going to post it any sooner? im leaving for taiwan tml!


PJ Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hi there,

Thank you for your question.

I have not tried Chifure, but I will definitely write about their products if I have a chance to try them.

Thank you for stopping by my blog! :)


PJ Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hi Bell,

I have posted the Taipei guide on Friday. Thank you so much for waiting!

I hope you will have a wonderful time in Taiwan, and do let me know if you find some nice beauty goodies. :)

Thank you for reading my blog and posting your comment! :)


Holly Monday, July 21, 2008

I have been to Shinjuku station. We are stationed here but little did I know that I was so close to so many hot makeup spots. Isnt makeup more expensive here?


PJ Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hi Holly,

Thank you very much for reading my blog!

Shinjuku is indeed a great place for beauty shopping (and shopping in general). Even a quick browse around the Station area can take a long time. :)

In general, I don’t think Japanese makeup items are more expensive than western ones. If you look at the prices of Lunasol and Jill Stuart and compare them with the prices of Chanel and Dior in North America/Europe, you will find that makeup items (sold in department stores) can be cheaper in Japan. (While there are top-end Japanese brands like CHICCA and SUQQU, there are Chantecaille and By Terry in the west, which can be even more expensive.) So I would say that Japanese makeup is generally not more expensive.

(However, western makeup items can sometimes be more expensive in Japan than in North America/ Europe.)

Thank you very much for your comment, and hope to hear from you again! :)


RM Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dear PJ,

Thank you for writing this lovely blog! I’m a Chinese Singaporean gal going to Tokyo next month and am so glad to have found your site.

Right now I have a particular interest in alternatives to liquid foundation, fragrances and quirky Japanese things that cannot be found elsewhere. I will be on the lookout for the brands and places you mentioned, many of which are completely foreign to me.

Keep up the great work!


PJ Friday, September 19, 2008

Dear RM,

Thank you for reading my blog! I am happy that you find it helpful.

It is exciting that you are going to Tokyo soon. I hope you will have a wonderful time. As for the things you are planning to look for, I am sure you will see many lovely things (and that you will probably struggle to decide which ones (not) to buy)…:)

If you have any question about beauty shopping in Tokyo, do let me know. I have not been back to Tokyo in a long while, but I will try my best to help.

Thank you very much for posting your comment! :)


kuri Monday, April 20, 2009


Sorry to post so late, but great guide to shopping in Tokyo!

Sadly, I believe the Shiseido Cosmetic Garden has closed; it’s now a fashionable eyeglass store.


PJ Monday, April 20, 2009

Hi Kuri,

Thank you very much for your compliment. I am very flattered! :)

Oh no. I visited Shiseido Cosmetic Garden once and I quite enjoyed it. Too bad it is now closed…:( But thank you for letting me know this.

Thank you for stopping by again! :)


kuri Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I was really sad to see it closed also; it was a great place to play with all the products.

Thank you, it’s always my pleasure to read your blog; it’s always full of useful information.


PJ Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hi Kuri,

I certainly hope Shiseido will bring it back in the future…

You are very welcome. I enjoy stopping by your blog as well. It makes me want to have a chance to know what it is like to live in Japan.

Keep up the great work! :)


kuri Friday, April 24, 2009

Thank you! It’s not thoughtfully written like yours, but I enjoy it :)


PJ Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hi Kuri,

Thank you…and I enjoy yours too! :)


ShyTown Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wow, thank you for all the info. I have a 23hr layover in Tokyo and can’t think of anything I would rather do then shop for makeup! I hope some of these drug stores are 24hr…


PJ Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hi ShyTown,

You are very welcome!

I don’t think there are drugstores that are open for 24 hours. But some 24-hour convenient stores do carry some makeup and skincare items. They are definitely worth a look.

It would be so good if there were 24-hour drugstores. We could shop for makeup literally all day long! :) (Some are open until 10pm, which is not too bad…)

Thank you very much for posting your comment! :)


Mari Wednesday, May 4, 2011

If you are looking for discount on top notch brands in Tokyo like cosme decorte, albion, ignis and discounted western cosmeticsetc. There is no other place than the Ueno Ameyokocho. It is a mecca.


PJ Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hi Mari,

Indeed, I have been to Ueno Ameyokocho, and it is certainly a good place for browsing beauty goodies. :)

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts! :)


Leave a Comment

Please note that information on purchasing Japanese cosmetics on-line can be found on my FAQ page.

Thank you very much!

Previous post:

Next post: