From book stores to gift shops, food markets and more, if it’s Japanese retailers you’re looking for, you can find them in Chicago.
Chicago both boasts a large Asian population and attracts a large amount of Asian travelers, so it just makes sense that the city likewise offers some of the best and coolest Asian retail spaces in the Midwest. No matter what you’re on the hunt for, if it’s a popular Asian product, you can likely find it somewhere in or around the Windy City. If you’re interested in shopping for Japanese products in particular, look no further — here are some of the best Japanese stores in Chicago.
Mitsuwa Marketplace Chicago
Located in the Chicago suburbs, this Chicago Mitsuwa Marketplace outpost is one of only a few in the United States. Basically a mini mall dedicated completely to Asian products, the marketplace features a variety of vendors and a variety of products. Find Japanese confectionery, crepes, boba, baked goods, sushi, made-to-order food like udon and ramen, chocolates, Japanese books, videos and cosmetics. It’s all up for grabs. Just be sure to check the marketplace’s hours online before visiting, as each individual vendor has its own opening times, and opening times for the marketplace overall have changed regularly due to COVID restrictions.
100 East Algonquin Road, Arlington Heights
Another Japanese retailer that’s in the suburbs of Chicago versus right in the heart of things, Hello Tokyo is well worth the trip out if you love Japanese goods and you have a limited budget. Everything in the store, save for a very few select items, is just $2. It’s like the dollar store of Japanese products. You’ll find a little bit of everything here, from origami paper to bento products, calligraphy tools to sensu fans. The store offers an extensive range of departments, including health and beauty, kitchen and dining, home goods, stationery, kawaii and more.
9038 West Golf Road, Niles
Tensuke Market and Food Court Chicago
Have you started figuring out that, to visit the best Japanese stores in Chicago, you’ll be spending lots of time in the Chicago suburbs? Tensuke is one of Chicago’s most authentic markets, specializing in bringing ingredients and ready-made foods to Northwest Chicago families. Find the freshest seafood, sushi and sashimi in the city, but without breaking your budget. For dessert, pick up a green tea soft serve ice cream, which is made with 100% natural Japanese matcha powder. Make your own bento box to go, or place a delivery order, if you’re staying at a hotel in the area. When it comes to Japanese eats, you can’t go wrong with Tensuke Market.
3 South Arlington Heights Road, Elk Grove Village
Find exclusive anime, kanji, gundam and other toys from Japan, at Nakama Toys near Chicago’s Logan Square. Beyond action figures and plushes, as well as scale statues, you’ll also find gifts like t-shirts and collectibles. In addition to being a great toy story with an awesome selection of Japanese toys, Nakama also offers a good deal of flexibility to its customers, allowing you to preorder certain products, as well as place domestic orders if you want something shipped and won’t be making it into Chicago anytime soon.
2504 North California Avenue
Aji Ichiban Snack
Find all your favorite Japanese sweet treats under one roof, at Aji Ichiban Snack, located in Chicago’s Armour Square. The bright, vibrant and inviting space welcomes in shoppers with sweet teeth. While you’ll pay dearly for your imported Japanese treats and snacks, you’ll be hard pressed to find such a fantastic selection of Japanese snacks in any other store. While most of the goods are of the sweet variety, you can find a few savory options as well. Plus, you’ll definitely see some Pocky varieties that you likely haven’t seen elsewhere.
2117 South China Place
By Holly Riddle