If you want to see into the future, sometimes all it takes is a little traveling. When you visit England, for example, you can see the future of music in the US 1-3 years ahead of where we currently are stateside. Latest gadgets? Check out what the kids in Hong Kong are using.
There are many reasons to visit Japan (incredible food, stationery stores that will blow your mind, the onsen experience, etc), but one compelling reason to add to your list is visiting outdoor stores. In the outdoor industry, Japan is more of a dichotomy—it’s both the future AND the past of outdoor trends. You find stores stocking the most cutting edge lightest weight titanium 5 denier nanoparticle cyclotron technology right next to the waxed canvas chaps with hand stitched leather reinforcements. You’ll often find amazing special make ups that brands do just for the Japanese market, because they know what people want before the rest of the world even catches on.
For your next visit to Japan, make sure to check out these stores. Even if you’re not a gearhead, the brand selection, colorways, and designs will blow you away:
1-2 Hara Inzai
Since 1985, Wild-1 has been the outdoor retail division of Kanseki Co., Ltd (a large home center chain store in Japan). We’ve put up the address of the flagship store above, but they also have 18 stores around East Japan. Because Wild-1 is located outside the city, they have enough space for setting up tents, sleeping pads, etc—a rarity in most Japanese stores. The main specialties of teh store are camping, backpacking, hiking, canoe & kayak, fishing, and backcountry skiing.
7-1 Sakae-cho, Yokohama
Don’t be fooled by myX’s affiliation with car dealer Kanagawa Toyota since 1997. They have a wide range of items, including camping gear with a unique and reliable range of products. They specialize in camping, backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and kids gears.
Probably the most easily accessible of the outdoor stores—they have 18 stores in Japan, mostly urban centered, and catering towards beginners and youth. Their main specialties are camping, backpacking, hiking, travel, and sundry goods.
5-26-1 Ueno, Taito-ku
Around since 1967, Od-Box has had a long history with selling some of the latest and best outdoor gear (they also have another store that is focused on general sports like running, triathlon, etc). One of the most unique aspects of the store is that shop staff are extremely skilled in various outdoor activities, and many of the products are selected by the staff themselves. If you want to know the latest trends in Japan in the outdoor world, visit this store. Od-Box specializes in hiking, trail running, ultralight backpacking, bouldering, and telemark/AT skiing.