25 November 2023
Tokyo is a travel destination favourite among us for many good reasons- the food, weather, history, culture, shopping and of course, Japanese beauty products. Japan is a mecca for beauty products; and the motherland of many well loved beauty brands- Shiseido, SK-II, Biore, Hada Labo, Shu Umera, Cle de Peau… and the list goes on. The beauty industry may seem dominated by K-beauty, but J-beauty remains a stalwart in the global beauty scene for its heritage of culture and beauty, groundbreaking ingredients and reputation for high standards.
I was recently in Tokyo this year for a holiday; and I’m here to share with you my personal 5 MUST visit beauty stores and experiences in Tokyo for all things skincare and makeup. Tokyo is one of my favourite travel destinations, and shopping for skincare is always a must for me when I’m in the city. Sharing with you my personal favourites, must do’s and how to score significant cost savings, so you can from legitimate shops at prices better than duty free! Update November 2023: I’ve just come back from Tokyo again, and added a new find, Maison Kose, so this brings the total number of must visit recommendations in Japan!
If you’re into cult favourite drug store brands; exclusive luxury Japanese beauty products; beauty tech and smart beauty system or if you’re looking for a holistic approach to beauty in Tokyo- this is my curated list for every beauty lover. If you’re a K-beauty fan or looking for recommendations on beauty stores in Seoul, head to Best Korean Beauty Stores & Experiences in Seoul.
Where is @cosme Flagship Store in Harajuku
1 Chome-14-27 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
How to get there to @cosme Flagship Store in Harajuku
Head to the Harajuku station; exit via the Omotesando gate pass. You’ll see @cosme Flagship Store in Harajuku across the road; it’s about a minute walk from there.
Why you should visit @cosme Flagship Store in Harajuku
@cosme Flagship Store in Harajuku is THE place to be to know which beauty products- hair, makeup, skincare, fragrances…etc are trending in Japan. If you’re overwhelmed by all the beauty offerings in Japan, I recommend coming here to get oriented and strategize your shopping.
About @cosme Flagship Store in Harajuku
Before @cosme had its retail stores, @cosme was already one of Asia’s most popular and influential beauty websites since 1999, with news and reviews from its strong community of readers. The bi-anual Beauty Awards by @cosme are highly anticipated events- with beauty products being ranked on popularity based on readers’ votes.
@cosme flagship store in Harajuku opened in 2020. In the store, you’ll find products that are currently trending in Japan based on @cosme website ranking from readers; as well as the winning products from the @cosme’s Beauty Awards. Products in the @cosme flagship store in Harajuku are low to mid-tier price range.
What I liked about the @cosme flagship store in Harajuku is the intuitive layout and design that makes for an easy shopping experience without getting overwhelmed. Right at the entrance is a section dedicated to the winners @cosme’s recent Beauty Awards in the skincare, makeup, and hair categories. If you want to be clued in to what is trending in Japan right now- head all the way to the back of the ground floor. There you’ll find the section for products that are trending on the @cosme website for the week; and I found the selection of beauty products to be different from the ones that have won Beauty Awards.
On the ground floor, you’ll also come across a massive tester bar section that will allow you to test the huge array of products available in @cosme. It’s spacious (read: personal space) and clean; and everyone was civil minded and hygienic when I was there.
@cosme flagship store in Harajuku has three floors with more than 200 000 beauty products. It’s a paradise and black hole for the wallet of beauty fans. The array of brands is impressive- and I recommend zeroing in on the J-beauty brands (especially for the ones that do not have a presence in Singapore!) because I found many to be of good quality at very affordable prices. However, the sunscreen selection in @cosme flagship store in Harajuku is very disappointing.
What to get when you’re at @cosme Flagship Store in Harajuku
Spoiler: after you’ve carted all the beauty products in @cosme flagship store in Harajuku, identify the products/brands that are more mass market (i.e. you can get elsewhere) because the next place I’m sharing is THE place to buy them at 10-20% cheaper.
The next place you must visit in Tokyo to get beauty products from low to mid priced brands is Matsumoto Kiyoshi Drugstore. Matsumoto Kiyoshi is a drugstore chain that is ubiquitous in Tokyo, you’ll find it in every corner. There is a Matsumoto Kiyoshi drugstore next to the @cosme flagship store in Harajuku, but I recommend heading to the Matsumoto Kiyoshi drugstore in Shibuya instead.
Where is Matsumoto Kiyoshi Drugstore
Matsumoto Kiyoshi Shibuya Part 1 is located in 22-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0042, Japan
How to get to Matsumoto Kiyoshi Shibuya Part 1
Head to Shibuya station; Matsumoto Kiyoshi Shibuya Part 1 is a one minute walk from there.
Why you should visit to Matsumoto Kiyoshi Shibuya Part 1
First: The retail prices of beauty products are 10-20% cheaper than most other stores in Tokyo. Like most other Tokyo retailers, Matsumoto Kiyoshi also provides tax rebates for tourists on the spot if you spend more than 5000 yen (approx SGD$50).
Second: The Matsumoto Kiyoshi drugstores carry the store’s inhouse brand of beauty products, called Argelan. Argelan’s products are exclusively available at Matsumoto Kiyoshi drugstores. Argelan’s lip balms and hair care range are worth a try in my opinion. I find them to be of good quality at reasonable prices. I’m a big fan of Argelan lipbalms, they’re some of the most moisturising ones I’ve used.
Matsumoto Kiyoshi Shibuya Part 1 has 7 floors of shopping; and its almost exclusively dedicated to beauty products. Don’t expect the spacious, comfortable shopping experience at @cosme or in a departmental hall. At Matsumoto Kiyoshi Shibuya Part 1, it’s claustrophobic, crowded and chaotic. But it’s worth coming by for the cost savings and Argelan products!
About Matsumoto Kiyoshi Drugstore
Matsumoto Kiyoshi is a well known drug store chain in Japan, you’ll find it at every corner. The range of beauty products and the availability of Argelan products vary from store to store. The Matsumoto Kiyoshi Shibuya Part 1 has almost all the low to mid tier beauty brands you can think of.
What to get while you’re there Matsumoto Kiyoshi Drugstore
Argelan lip balms! These lip balms are rich in botanical oils; and have a nourishing emollient effect on the lips. Great product, very affordable. I buy them in dozens to stock up; and they make great gifts for friends and colleagues. This is also the opportunity for you to stock up on Japanese beauty products. I found the prices to be 30-50% lower than retail prices in Singapore. I also recommend getting your sunscreens here too, the selection is mindblowing.
Luxury beauty brands are plentiful in Tokyo, and some home grown Japanese luxury beauty brands are more exclusive than others. If you’re looking for premium, innovative beauty brands that you can’t find elsewhere- head to Mitsukoshi Ginza’s beauty hall. This is where you can find cult favourite brands like Episteme stem cell products, top end makeup brush brand HAKUHODO, Elégance makeup and my favourite sunscreen and makeup brand, Suqqu. You won’t be able to find some of these brands at Ginza 6 or the other malls in Ginza. If you’re looking for the usual selection of luxury beauty brands like Dior Beauty and Chanel, these brands also be found in Mitsukoshi Ginza.
As I’ve shared before in my sunscreen reviews, Suqqu’s sunscreens are my absolute favourite for its broad spectrum coverage, lightweight feel and glowy, lit from within finish. Suqqu’s sunscreens and makeup products are immensely popular locally and abroad; and are often sold out at its outlets, including at Narita Airport’s duty free shops.
If you’re looking for Suqqu’s complete collection, Mitsukoshi Ginza’s Suqqu section has it all; even for items that are often sold out. Another reason why Mitsukoshi Ginza is a must visit for me: this is where I buy my luxury beauty items at prices cheaper than duty free. Continue reading to know how to score this saving, you can thank me later.
Where is Mitsukoshi Ginza’s Beauty hall
4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-8212 The beauty hall is at level B1 of the mall.
How to get there to Mitsukoshi Ginza Nearest train station is Ginza station.
Mitsukoshi Ginza is connected to the Ginza station.
Why you should visit Mitsukoshi Ginza’s Beauty hall
As I’ve shared before in my sunscreen reviews 2021, Suqqu’s sunscreens are my absolute favourite for its broad spectrum coverage, lightweight feel and glowy, lit from within finish. Suqqu’s sunscreens and makeup products are immensely popular locally and abroad; and are often sold out at its outlets, including at Narita Airport’s duty free shops. If you’re looking for Suqqu’s complete collection, Mitsukoshi Ginza’s Suqqu section has it all; even for popular items that are often sold out.
Besides the selection of exclusive, premium Japanese beauty brands at Mitsukoshi Ginza, another reason why Mitsukoshi Ginza is a must visit for me: this is where I buy my luxury beauty items at prices cheaper than duty free.
How do you get this saving at Mitsukoshi Ginza? Prices of these established luxury beauty brands are largely the same across the malls, as well as duty free shops in the airport (I checked). Besides the usual tax rebate for tourists, Mitsukoshi offers an additional 5% discount on the retail price for tourists! To get this discount, bring your passport along to the mall’s service counter. The service staff at Mitsukoshi Ginza approved my application for immediate use, so I enjoyed this 5% discount as well as tax rebate!
Don’t fret if you can’t speak Japanese in the sea of very tempting beauty products. Mitsukoshi Ginza’s beauty hall has translators that speak English and Mandarin. I found this to be very useful because most of the information for the Japanese beauty brands were in Japanese!
About Mitsukoshi Ginza
Did you know that Mitsukoshi Ginza was founded in 1673 and is the oldest remaining department store chain in Japan? After you’re done with your shopping, I recommend heading to the depachika (food basement) one floor down. The selection of wagashi and desserts is very impressive! If you’re into coffee, I recommend heading to Bongen Coffee in the area for the best coffee in Tokyo IMO.
What to get while you’re there Mitsukoshi Ginza’s Beauty hall
Mitsukoshi Ginza is the place to buy high end J-beauty products; and from brands that are not available in Singapore. I recommend checking out Suqqu and trying their sunscreens. Suqqu’s eyeshadow palettes are also very high quality and worth a try.
Other brands that you might want to try in Mitsukoshi Ginza that are not available in Singapore: Celvoke makeup and Episteme skincare. Cle de Peau Beaute fans- consider shopping here too for the savings!
About Shiseido Global Flagship Store in Ginza
Shiseido is one of the biggest beauty conglomerates in the world, and a household name in Asia. The brand’s global flagship store was unveiled in 2020. The Shiseido global flagship store in Ginza was designed to reflect the Japanese philosophy of otemenashi and showcase Shiseido’s advanced diagnostic tools and AI technology.
Where is Shiseido Global Flagship Store in Ginza
3 Chome-3-14 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
How to get to Shiseido Global Flagship Store in Ginza
Shiseido Global Flagship Store is a one-minute walk from exit C8 of Ginza Metro Station.
Why you should visit Shiseido Global Flagship Store in Ginza
If you want to experience the future of beauty- smart diagnostic systems, AI guided skincare and makeup analysis, and personalised products- this is the place to be. Shiseido has a long legacy of employing cutting edge technology and breakthrough ingredients in its skincare; and this flagship store in Ginza offers users a chance to experience the brand’s smart systems.
When you enter the Shiseido global flagship store in Ginza, pick up a wristband and register your details. This system allows you to save the products in a virtual cart. This information gets downloaded at the payment counter, so you get to shop hands-free.
The Shiseido global flagship store in Ginza also has a skin diagnostic system that provides a report about how your skin is doing, as well as product recommendations from the brand. This report also gets emailed to you. According to this Digiskin Tester, my “beauty circulation” was not its best, but the rest of my parameters (radiance, resilience and smoothness) were good. The results are based on a questionnaire that you answer, rather than a true diagnostic evaluation, so I suggest taking the results with a pinch of salt.
The Foundation Bar is another fun AI guided analytical bar I recommend trying. This bar assists users in finding the right shade of foundation for their skin. If you’ve struggled to match the shade of your skin to a foundation, you might find this helpful. After your picture gets taken, the algorithm narrows down a few foundation shades for your skin; and you get to pick between radiant or more natural finishes shades. The bar then dispenses samples for you to try!
On the second floor of the Shiseido global flagship store in Ginza is where you’ll get to learn more about Shiseido’s legacy and products. Here you can request for makeup classes with the professionals at Shiseido- for free. No reservations are required for this service. When I was at the Shiseido global flagship store in Ginza, I saw some customers finishing up their makeup classes. I was told by the staff that you choose to learn basic makeup techniques, or focus on specific parts of your face.
These wonderful and fun shopping experiences aside, the Shiseido global flagship store in Ginza offers the entire range of Shiseido skincare and makeup products; some of which are not available in Singapore. True to Shiseido’s philosophy of otemenashi, I was brought on an spontaneous, unplanned guided tour in English by the staff, who patiently waited as I tried out all the devices and diagnostic tools.
If you purchase items in the Shiseido global flagship store in Ginza, gift wrapping and an engraving service exclusive to this store is provided.
What to get while you’re there Shiseido Global Flagship Store in Ginza
Most of the products by Shiseido are available in Singapore; but cost savings are significant in Tokyo. I purchased Shiseido’s SPF coloured lip balms, as these have been sold out in Singapore for a long time. Protecting against UV doesn’t stop at your skin! I’ll come back with my review on Shiseido UV Lip Color Splash SPF 30 soon!
Kose Corporation is another Japanese cosmetics giant with a number of familiar beauty brands under its umbrella, such as Sekkisei, Tarte and Decorte.
Maison Kose in Ginza is Kose’s flagship in the heart of Ginza’s shopping district, and it offers a fun and enticing set up to experience the wide array of brands and products from the Kose group.
Where is Maison Kose in Ginza
7 Chome-10-1 Ginza, 7 Chome Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061
How to get to Maison Kose in Ginza
Maison Kose in a 6 minute walk from the Ginza station. Take exit A3.
Why you should visit Maison Kose in Ginza
I enjoyed visiting Maison Kose in Ginza, because the experience at this flagship store was geared towards a fun, pampering experience for customers. Products across different brands were displayed according to their types; and ranked according to their popularity, similar to Cosme Tokyo. Within the store, you can get also a manicure and hair styling services.
Also available at Maison Kose is Kose’s Colour Machine. This device, powered by augmented reality, allows users to try on makeup products virtually. The Colour machine uses high-speed projection mapping technology created by the Tokyo Institute of Technology and it recognises faces at the rate of 1,000 times per second, thereby allowing users a realistic projection of their faces and expressions with these virtual products.
To remember your time at Maison Kose, don’t forget to get your photo taken at the Maison Kose Self Photo Studio. As its name suggests, this is a DIY photo booth that allows you to snap a picture in the photo studio. When I visited in October 2023, Kose was doing a collaboration with Japanese boy band Mazzel, so I got my photo taken with the band in the backdrop.
Maison Kose also provides a booth for customers to create a personalised stencil painting. Choose from cards with different letters; and unleash your creativity with the stencils and water colours provided. Although this was a quick session, I found this to be fun and different from the other Japanese beauty stores I’ve visited.
What to get while you’re there Maison Kose in Ginza
Consider the brands that are not available in Singapore; such as Addiction. Some of the brands from Kose Corporation are readily available in Singapore and you’ll also enjoy cost savings.
Japan is synonymous with green tea, which has numerous benefits for the skin! Green tea is an abundant source of polyphenols that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as well as protective benefits against the sun and cancer1-3. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to visit a traditional tea house in Tokyo to experience the art of chado, and load up on the benefits of green tea.
There are plenty of teahouses in Tokyo, and the ones that are often mentioned are Higashiya Ginza and Sakurai Tea Experience. I’ve been to both, and both offer a wide selection of high quality tea for connoisseurs. My favourite, however, is Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo in the Nihonbashi district. If you found Higashiya Ginza and Sakurai Tea Experience to be stifling, the vibes in Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo are more calming and welcoming. Read on and you’ll learn why I find Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo to be a gem in the heart of Tokyo’s business district.
Where is Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo
Japan, 〒103-0027 Tokyo, Chuo City, Nihonbashi, 2 Chome−5−1 髙島屋三井ビルディング1階
How to get to Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo
Nearest train station is Nihonbashi station. Walk to the Nihonbashi Takashimaya Mitsui Building, this tea house is located on the first floor.
Why you should visit Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo
Very good quality green teas that are reasonably priced. Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo also offers a wide selection of green teas to choose from, from gyokuro, sencha to houjicha. You can choose to pair your tea with wagashi.
About Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo
Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo brand is one of the earliest purveyors of sencha in Japan; and has been in existence for more than 300 years. The brand is well known for its gyokuro teas and nori (seaweed) dishes. This tea house in Nihonbashi is a moderntake on the age-old history of chado in Japan with its contemporary interiors and interplay of contrasts- think textured walls, rich marbles, brass tones and dark wood. The natural light, high ceilings and airiness elevated the dining experience for me- vis a vis the dark, moody tones and cramped feel of Higashiya and Sakurai Tea Experience.
Even if you’re not a fan of green tea, having a drink at Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo is a calming experience that will lower your stress and cortisol levels for better skin.
What to get while you’re there Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo
Have a cup (or three) of green tea and pair your tea with wagashi. Take in the aesthetics of the beautiful space of Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo while you’re at it. I highly recommend the Yame, a deep steamed tea rich in umami.
And that’s a wrap on my 5 must visit and must do beauty spots and experiences in Tokyo for 2023. What are your thoughts? Do you have any recommendations to share? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll save them for my next trip to Tokyo! Have a good holiday!
1. Green tea extract protects human skin fibroblasts from reactive oxygen species induced necrosis. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. Silverberg et al. 2011;10(10):1096–1101.
2. Anti-angiogenic effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate in human skin. Domingo et al. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology. 2010;3(7):705–709.
3. Photoprotective effects of a formulation containing tannase-converted green tea extract against UVB-induced oxidative stress in hairless mice. Hong et al. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology. 2012;166(1):165–175