The Complete Tokyo Camera Shopping Guide

Posted on by Bellamy

The Complete Tokyo Camera Shopping Guide
As many of you may know, I have written buyers guides on Tokyo, that have been very popular. But some have mentioned that they are hard to navigate on the site. I am a man who likes things to be uncomplicated, so I thought it might be nice of they were all in one place.

My Tokyo camera buyers guides are probably one of the most popular series of posts on the site, and I have met many people in Tokyo who have been shopping and have found what they need thanks to them. I am really happy to have people find what they want and have a nice time doing it.

The first guide is for Shinjuku and surrounding areas.

A little note about this is that Yodobashi camera has been left off the list. Yodobashi is the big boy in the area and sells everything. But only new, nothing used. This is the place to come for new cameras that may not be available outside of Japan. The film department is the stuff of legend, despite it shrinking in recent years.

Top tips: Check the camera has English menus, Sony and Panasonic do not because they want you to by the higher priced “international” versions to stop gray market exports. Oh, and haggle. If you are a tourist then you automatically get 5% off (tax free). But you can get more. Almost all items in the store have points available for point card holders. If you are a tourist then you don’t need or want these points. You can get them to know these off the price for larger items, especially if you have cash. And this could net you up to 10% more off in some cases. Don’t be afraid to ask. Shy kids get no sweets.

Touristy stuff: Check out Kabukicho after dark. The red light and bar district is a lot of fun in the evenings. Careful who you shoot though, there are some rather unsavoury characters there and you could find yourself in a spot of bother. If in doubt, don’t take pictures of the touts and pushers. It is better to ask in this area if you don’t know your way around.

The second guide is Ginza and surrounding areas

Not a lot has changed with regards to this guide. The Ricoh service centre has moved away, but Ring Cube is still there.
One I forgot to mention is the Crumpler Ginza store, which is not a camera shop, but a cool bag shop that yours truly used to work in.

Top Tip: Check the cameras in Lemon very very carefully. They do not check them themselves and do not set the prices, so the camera could say A rank, but could really be junk. Make sure you test them, as they don’t do returns, even if it breaks 5 minutes after walking out the door.

Touristy stuff: If you are in the Ginza area then you owe it to yourself to go to the ultimate foreigner tourist spot, the Tsukiji fish market. But be warned, there are some rules. If you go there early, you might be lucky enough to get a ticket for the auction. But the tickets are limited, so if you missed the chance then you have a long wait until the main market opens to tourists. Carry as little as possible, smaller bags are better. Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, because you will. Keep your eyes and ears open, it is a place of work and they are not going to move for you. With that you should be good.

The final guide is Northern Tokyo and surrounding areas

But this is a bit of a misnomer. It should really be North and western Tokyo, as this one is a bit spread out. But it was designed with the idea that you could take a day and walk it. Which I have done many times. Not a lot has changed.

Top tip: A lot of the places in Akihabara can be bargained with, much in the same fashion as Yodobashi. The Yodobashi in Akihabara has a great film selection too. Well worth a look.

Touristy stuff: Take a stroll through Ueno park, there are so many people to take pictures of it really is staggering. Get lost around the backstreets on Akihabara to see the weirdest shops.

The map

I made the map, which has been viewed over 10,000 times now. It is by no means complete, there are places that I have deliberately left off, you will have to find them on your own. That is part of the joy of rolling around Tokyo though, finding the little places.

Notes on travel
If you are coming in the summer be prepared for it to be insanely hot and humid. Stay hydrated and carry a hand towel with you, you will definitely need it. Silica gel in the bag wouldn’t hurt.
If you are coming in the winter be prepared for it to be bitterly cold. The light will be amazing though, very bright and beautiful golden hours.
Carry cash, it is a very safe city. ATM’s can be problematic (language or availability) so always have some cash. Often stores will offer a discount for cash too. Money talks.

I hope this makes things a lot easier for you all and that you have a fantastic time if you are coming to Tokyo. Shoot, eat and enjoy.

16 Responses to The Complete Tokyo Camera Shopping Guide

Kenny Lam May 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Any Kyoto Camera shopping guides?
going there in july ><

    Emilio Villegas February 21, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Japancamerahunter, thanks for this awesome guide. I’m flying to Tokyo and Seoul in September and I’m planing to do a rather large lens buy in Tokyo ( either used or new if the used copy is ok) of the Nikon 24-70 and maybe a 300mm prime. I will do this in my last day to avoid blowing of money that I might need in the trip before. Do you recommend getting all the cash or paying with a credit card should be ok? The total should be around 2000+ € so I’m a bit worried about carrying it all , not because of the safety but because I might loose it :p and also because of the ATM fees.

Chan June 5, 2013 at 1:09 am

How about the Nagano prefecture and Matsumoto city (+surrounding areas)?
I’ll be going there but since I’m a student, my wallet isn’t full enough :p
So, bargain shopping is a must… any tips?

Francois June 27, 2013 at 11:21 pm

I went to Tokyo last month (we could not hook up unfortunatley )and your guide was really useful. My hotel was near Ginza so i spend a afternoon in that area going from store to store. Finally i got a nice Nikon FM2 from the Nikon store. Really a good guide for a lost tourist like me.. On your recommendation, i went to that camera fair in Shibuya and it was really, really cool. Thanks!!!!

Dai Furuta June 27, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Yes, on this Sat I am going Tokyo! Can’t wait to check out your Camera shops that are listed on this site. I can feel already excitement!

    Dai Furuta June 27, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Well can’t really say Your camera shops. Sorry about that. I meant to say your recommendation camera shops.

Eddy October 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Thanks for the great guides! I never would have found some of those places in a million years! It was a great way to spend a rather wet weekend here on business.

As I was staying near Ginza I started there. I was amazed at the stock but often dismayed at the price. I kept my wallet closed and headed out to Nakano and Nitto Camera because I’d seen a lovely Konica II advertised on their website for not much money. A friendly husband and wife team (I think) greeted me and it was an easy sale. The Konica was in beautiful condition but the shutter was sticky so unless fixed it’s a pure ornament. But at the price I was happy as it is a beauty and maybe I can fix it.

I then moved on to Shinjuku. I walked past the entrance to ‘New Camera’ a couple of times before spotting it so thank you JCH for the map. They are indeed pretty grumpy in there but I nearly got a smile at one point (I was handing over money at the time!). I read up over night about the Konica rangefinders and decided these things are hidden gems. Again for not much money (about the same as the II) I got a IIIa. Not as pretty or as in as good condition as the II but this one appears to function properly. We will see….

Oh and I bought a 2nd hand 18mm XF lens from MAP for my XE-1. And a nice book on vintage cameras!

My favourite shops so far have actually been the grumpy old men places like New Camera and Chuuko Camera Box. They have so much stuff and finding the good in the dross is half the fun. For someone like me there’s lots of affordable interesting stuff there. MAP is great for being so slick – a complete contrast. Their service was very impressive. The Ginza stores are, no surprises, very expensive except maybe Lemon. I’m not a Leica shopper so ‘just looking’ there.

Brian April 30, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Thank you for this list. It made camera shopping way easier, especially for someone who doesn’t speak the language. Superb!

oink July 9, 2014 at 7:54 am

Hi! I read in the first article “dont ask for discounts” yet here you mentioned please haggle and we can get discounts? So when can I haggle or not?

Restoration January 1, 2015 at 8:18 am

I am really thankful for your guides! Just curious, if you buy cameras in Japan are the buttons and language settings all automatically set in Japanese?

Joe February 27, 2015 at 5:59 pm

I visited lemon Ginza last Saturday and arrived by chance moments before the shop opened to find a bunch of elderly Japanese men waiting outside. They were talking patiently amongst themselves until the doors opened when they literally stampeded to a table covered with various camera items. They were grabbing lenses by the handful, you could hear stuff falling over and all sorts. Reminded me of the chaotic cctv footage you see from luxury handbag departments and the like at the start of Boxing Day sales. Had a laugh when I thought about your description of Tokyo camera shopping etiquette :) no idea what the fuss was as didn’t see anything special, but maybe I was too slow. Thanks for the great guide btw… Was useful in my 24hrs in Tokyo!


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