It never takes much to convince me to buy new ski gear, and with a country like Japan that has some of the best snow conditions known to man, the money’s practically left my pocket already. If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering where you can buy snow gear in Tokyo, and whether it’s worth it or not

If your holiday involves a quick stopover in Tokyo before you hit the slopes, you might be interested to know that there are a few places where you can pick up snowsports gear beforehand. Today, we’ll be discussing a few of the options available to you and ultimately deciding whether or not it’s worth it.

Kanda-Ogawamachi – Tokyo’s snowsports district

If you’re in Tokyo and fancy buying a few bits of ski or snowboard gear, there’s only one area you’ll need to head to, and that’s Kanda-Ogawamachi. A district in Chiyoda, Tokyo, that’s known for its huge number of snowsports shops, Kanda-Ogawamachi has enough places to buy ski and snowboard gear that it’ll make even the most level-headed snow sports enthusiast feel excited. While there are a lot of ski shops worth checking out in Ogawamachi, these are three of the best I’d recommend everyone take a look at.

1. London Sports – Great Deals

The first of the three shops worth visiting is London Sports. If you’re after great deals, lots of choices, and cheap prices, this is the place to come. It’s a fairly cramped shop, but great if you can take a while sorting through all the boxes to find the hidden gems. You shouldn’t expect this season’s gear, or perhaps even last season’s, but if you’re after solid ski and snowboard clothing for a bargain, definitely check it out.

2. Victoria Sports Main Store – 8F Ski Shop

Looking for the biggest ski shop in Tokyo? Victoria Ochanomizu Main Store is the place you’ll want to head to. Over 8 floors of ski gear (as well as surfing, skating, and trekking), you’ll likely be able to find anything you’re after. Looking to get your skis tuned before heading off to the mountains? Their 8th floor is a technical centre that provides those services which are perfect if you’ve forgotten to do it before you came.

3. Ski shop Vail – Huge product selection

Finally we come to Ski shop Vail. A snowsports store that has hundreds of brands inside and offers a wide selection of gear for everyone, no matter their ability or budget. That said, their stock favours powder, freeride, and backcountry gear, which isn’t surprising considering Japan’s legendary snowfall.

Is it worth it?

Ok, so we know Tokyo does have a lot of places for you to buy snowsports gear if you need to but is it actually worth it? To figure this question out, I’m going to discuss two alternatives to buying your ski gear in Tokyo, and what the pros and cons of each option might be.

Buying snowsports gear in your own country

The most frequent time people buy ski gear for their holiday is before they step foot in their destination country. You’ll probably get a better choice (especially if you’re ordering online), and will have a longer time to decide between your options. If you’re after something specific, or crucial, buy it before you come to Japan.

The downside to buying snowsports gear in your own country is that you’ll have to pay more to bring it over. This doesn’t matter with clothing, and I’d argue you get a broader and potentially cheaper choice in some of the stores in Tokyo, but skis and snowboards will almost always cost extra to ship over. That said, it’s always nice to see your ski gear in person before you buy it, and if your country doesn’t have anywhere you can go to, visiting Tokyo’s snowsports district will be ideal.

One big pro of buying in both Tokyo and your ski resort is that depending on the time you visit, you’ll often have a chance to pick up off-season bargains. You’ll find a number of people selling their gear to get the best stuff available, and that means great second-hand prices to be had in some of the shops I’ve mentioned above.

Buying at a ski resort in Japan

There are a few reasons you might be better off buying at a ski resort in Japan as opposed to Tokyo. The first is that the retail offering in some of the larger resorts can be very good – particularly in places like Niseko or Hakuba where you’ll be genuinely spoilt for choice. If it’s near the end of the season, you may also have access to some decent deals, as retailers make space for their summer offering. Plus, you’ll be in the perfect place to ask questions and get the right advice.

Rhythm, Niseko

Shops like Rhythm in Niseko offer buyers a huge amount of choice. Image: Rhythm Japan

If you’re buying skis or a snowboard then having the option to actually demo a model before you buy is a huge benefit.

Ultimately, I don’t think you should rely on shopping in Tokyo’s Kanda-Ogawamachi district if you’re after something specific and important. However, do I recommend taking a trip there if you’ve got spare time and love ski gear? Absolutely. Whether you plan to buy ski gear in Tokyo or not, it’s worth taking the trip to this area at the very least, if you’ve got a bit of time to spare.

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