A great escape from the summer heat and humidity can be to spend time at one of Japan’s largest retail facilities. Mitsui’s shopping park, LaLaport Tokyo Bay, is the largest of their six retail centers in Japan. It boasts 540 stores and can accommodate 8,200 vehicles. Sectioned into three zones, pet-friendly LaLaport combines fashion, dining, and entertainment to a whole new level. Just a five-minute walk from Minami-Funabashi Station, discover one-of-a-kind shops (or find comfort in familiar ones from back home), delight your taste buds, or just relax in an air-conditioned space with the entire family. It’s a venue everyone can enjoy throughout the year.
Looking at the floor guide can be a bit overwhelming. So, where should your shopping experience even begin? I happen to start from the Harbor Gate entrance located at the North building (East Court) and was immediately in for a treat! The pet-friendly plaza accommodates both dogs and cats along the marked paw path and offers a Super Pet Park to include a dog run, dog café, and pet salon. How cool is that? It reminded me of how much I miss my pooches back home.
Next stop, Tokyu Hands! Rated No. 1 in retail and service in 2009, the Top 5 popular souvenirs are beauty goods, stationery, kitchen utensils, bottle containers/soup jars, and smartphone accessories. They even offer Duty Free products at this location. All "Made in Japan."
Less than 30 minutes into the adventure, my sweet tooth instantly kicked in. The Dining Garden showcases various tapioca sweets, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and even Krispy Kreme, but I finally decided on Café comme ca. It was love at first sight once I peeked into their window. Offering a large assortment of incredible looking fruit tarts and parfaits, I finally decided on a cream-filled strawberry, apricot & mango tart paired with a hot pot of their house tea. Oh so heavenly, I was suddenly re-energized to take on the rest of the shopping center.
Harbor Street offers an outdoor, shopping and dining experience surrounded by palm trees with the sound of trickling water fountains. It’s especially fun for small children as they take a short voyage on the musical choo-choo train. If your little ones are in need of exerting their energy elsewhere, be sure to visit the awesome rock climbing gym called Gravity Research, the outdoor pirate ship playground on the West side, or the Pokémon Center for the ultimate Pokémon experience .
Lala Popteen Land is a unique zone for teenage girls themed after one of Asia's top fashion magazines, Popteen. Popteen is famous for a program that enables readers to become models and this shopping area can certainly help one to visualize being featured on the cover of the magazine after patronizing 15 boutique shops and a café. Discover kawaii fashion, accessories, and make-up, without the hustle and bustle you would typically experience in streets like Takeshita-dori in Harajuku.
In addition to Forever 21, H&M, Zara and Banana Republic, my new favorite store is called Flying Tiger Copenhagen. First time visitor, I felt like a kid in a candy store; loved it so much I made my first and only purchase from the mall here. Offering a plethora of colorful gadgets for games and parties, music from up and coming artists, and unique products for home and office, it was so much fun to explore items by touch than having to find and order them online. All for a reasonable price, too. Score!
At the end of your shopping experience, why not catch the next showing at Toho Cinemas or simply take advantage of the free shuttle service back to the train station. Be sure to visit again! LaLaport Tokyo Bay celebrates more than 30 years in retail and continues to renew and expand, delighting customers each time they return. Located in Chiba prefecture, it's definitely a place you can add to your To-do list if visiting Tokyo for the first time. You will not be disappointed!