Tokyo’s best-kept shopping secrets: The Shimojima gift, paper & packaging emporium

I used to drag everyone who came to visit me to Ito-ya, the legendary 9-floor stationery shop in Ginza. But when they renovated and got rid of 90% of their merchandise, turning it into an over-designed boutique selling expensive stuff nobody needs, I had to fill the aching hole in my heart with a new love:

Shimojima!

Unlike Ito-ya, Shimojima hasn’t been discovered by a single tourist yet, and its astoundingly varied stock of only-in-Japan stationery items, odd gifts, and everything paper & packaging are still sold on eight floors of unimproved, slightly scruffy splendor. It’s only half a block from the train station in the undiscovered neighborhood of Asakusa-bashi, which also happens to be home to traditional Japanese doll emporiums and various outposts of craft supply heaven.

(And please don’t tell the tour guides, but everything they sell at Shimojima is still a total bargain!)

Walking from Asakusa-bashi Station, this is the sign you’re looking for

Here’s what’s generally on each floor, but keep in mind that the merchandise changes seasonally, so they might not have the exact things in the pictures when you go. I can guarantee, though, they’ll have stuff that’s just a good, or better! Going to Shimojima is always a treasure hunt.

1

GROUND FLOOR

Seasonal decorations • Snacks & drinks • Store display goods • Artificial flowers

This is the least-exciting floor, unless you’re after really specific seasonal goods like Halloween costumes, Christmas lights and New Years decorations, or in dire need of a snack.

What’s in my shopping basket?

They often have a good selection of seasonal decorations, and these traditional zodiac animal figures for new year’s are a real bargain compared to buying them elsewhere

2

2nd FLOOR: Paper of all kinds & party favors/supplies

Origami paper • Traditional patterned washi paper • Miniature DIY fake food craft kits • Decorative masking tape • Party supplies • Calligraphy brushes and supplies • Character lunchbags

They have a great selection of big sheets of traditional washi paper at great prices
A thrifty alternative to the Origami Center, Shimojima is THE place to buy origami paper of every size, pattern & color
Including extremely awesome packs for making only-in-Japan stuff like origami sushi
The second floor also sells some weird make-your-own squishy fake food kits

What’s in my shopping basket?

Raaarrr-tastic Ultraman and dinosaur origami sets!

3

3rd FLOOR: Stationery supplies

Cute character stickers • Adorable post-it notes • Stickers • Pens • Paperclips and other stationery supplies • Notebooks • Photo books

They had me at corgi butts
Page marker post-its of overwhelming cuteness
There was no way to get the hundreds of kinds of pens they sell in one shot, but you get the idea

What’s in my shopping basket?

Bacon notepads & ramen reminders
People will borrow things from me just to get one of these notes

4

4th FLOOR: Store signage & office supplies

Food & beer banners • Paper lanterns • Japanese seasonal printed washi paper placemats • Printer paper & labels • Office supplies • Envelopes of all sizes • Chalkboards and whiteboards

Here’s where they sell inexpensive versions of the vertical banners you see advertising shops on every Tokyo street, but I’m showing them to you because who wouldn’t want to cover their dorm room walls with these? JUST SAYIN
This floor is also where you can buy inexpensive lanterns to give your next party that authentic Japanese glow
The printer paper section here is much more exciting that you might think – you can get all kinds of unusual printable label shapes and materials, as well as handmade-looking Japanese washi paper that works with inkjet and laser printers

What’s in my shopping basket?

Epic beer banners

5

5th FLOOR: Food packaging & kitchen gadgets

Novelty goods like color-changing baby bottles and drink bottles • Food packaging: wraps, boxes, bags and tins • Cake and cupcake boxes • Disposable chopsticks • Confectionary supplies & equipment • Cleaning supplies

Sometimes the fifth floor has the most random stuff, like color-changing drink bottles and baby bottles!
The funniest thing I ever saw on this floor was this toilet paper printed with kanji drills so you can learn Japanese while sitting on the throne LOL
There’s a long aisle of Japanese and Western kitchen gadgets for bargain prices, including these cookie stamps that I use pretty much every chance I get

What’s in my shopping basket?

Could not resist the color-changing baby bottle, even though I don’t even know anyone who needs one of these WHY

6

6th FLOOR: Gift bags, shopping bags & packaging bags

Gift bags • Shopping bags • Cellophane bags

How adorable are these gift bags? You don’t even have to put anything inspired inside for them to be want-worthy
The “kimono” gift bags change with the seasons – these are summer-themed designs, so if you go at another time of year, they’ll match the month you’re there instead

What’s in my shopping basket?

I don’t care of these goldfish are just supposed to be for summer – I’m using them all year round!

7

7th FLOOR

Gift wrap • Ribbon & ties • Tissue paper • Money envelopes

In addition to wrapping paper and an entire aisle of ribbon, the seventh floor sells cute character lunchbags
And traditional package decorations that’ll scream “only-in-Japan” the next time you give a gift

What’s in my shopping basket?

Money envelopes for all occasions! Put that most-beloved gift of cash inside one of these babies, and it won’t get accidentally thrown out with the greeting cards

8

8th FLOOR

Cute animal gift boxes • Cardboard shipping boxes & tubes • Packing materials

This floor is filled with all the utilitarian stuff you need to pack ‘n send, but there’s one major gifty item that’s totally worth climbing the stairs for: super cute animal boxes!

What’s in my shopping basket?

THESE. They come in two sizes, and lots of different animals, including cats, shiba-inus, piggies, bunnies and tanukis

It was super hard for me to edit this down to a few items per floor – Shimojima isn’t fancy, but it’s so chock full of stuff that you didn’t know you needed, I guarantee you won’t walk out of there empty-handed! And if you need any more temptation, click over to the Asakusa-bashi page for a couple more reasons not to go straight back to the train station…

Click here for more

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2 Replies to “Tokyo’s best-kept shopping secrets: The Shimojima gift, paper & packaging emporium”

  1. OMG- I’m on my way back. Looks like at least a half day here….

    1. Ahahahahaha, I knew you’d be bit by the bug! The wonders of shopping in Japan: don’t get me started, or your credit card will not thank me ^^;;

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