The retail landscape in Japan is full of stores selling eyewear – or megane めがね. The focus is not on sunglasses, which aren’t as widely worn by the Japanese as they are in many other countries; these stores prescribe contact and corrective eyeglass lenses and frames for the estimated 40 percent of the country’s population that needs some form of visual aid.

As with most things they work on, the Japanese have refined the science of the optics and made an art of the creation of frames to produce some very high quality eyeglasses. Customers have in turn transformed what was long considered a nerdy product into personal style statements and created a huge market that is serviced by a vast array of domestic and imported eyeglasses.

Mykita – meiji-jingu; Muji Megane – yurakucho; Blinc Aouama, Facial Index New York – Marunouchi.

Buying prescription glasses in Japan is a streamlined and relatively inexpensive process and there are opticians in many shopping malls, depato and other big box retailers as well as a selection of popular chain stores such as Zoff, Hatch, ALOOK, Washin and Paris Miki spread throughout the country’s retail centers and selling local and imported frames.

For style conscious consumers looking for eyewear with a bit more design edge, this post looks at a few more options in Tokyo:

mujirushi ryohin no megane

brands: muji

The very first mapp : : tokyo post looked at the zen design purity of MUJI. In addition to the myriad lifestyle, office and fashion products the company produces, MUJI also make eyeglasses that are distinguished by the same principles of pared down design and affordability. For their eyewear, they employ a system that uses components and a streamlined stepped process. Purchasing a pair of MUJI eyeglasses is a 60 minute proposition:

1 : select the face – the lens frame of choice from the numerous metal or plastic options

2 : select the desired temple arms – again in your preferred material and color

3 : choose the appropriate lenses – a 15 minute eye check determines the right lens type

4 : staff manufacture your glasses in a process that takes 45 minutes

5 : you are fitted and checked, before you hand over around 10,000 to 20,000 yen (depending on lens type) for you new custom-made MUJI eyeglasses.

Muji megane are available at select MUJI outlets, including the flagshop Yurakucho store.

muji yurakucho

Facial Index New York

brands: facial index, taihachiro kinsei, kohboh, kotake chobei, ido tamio, yoichi sasaki

Based in Fukui city, Japan’s acknowledged eyewear manufacturing center, Kaneko Optical Co has been producing eyeglasses since 1958. Kaneko designs in collaboration with other designers and its own brands include Style Eyes, Complex+ and the high end Facial Index New York. Despite the name, Facial Index is one of the premium Japanese eyewear retailers that in addition to its eponymous ranges in gold, titanium, buffalo horn, plastic and timber also carries select designs bearing the logo of one of a the region’s master craftsmen who produce eyeglasses for Kaneko, be they the celluloid frames of Yoichi Sasaki or the metal eyeglasses of Ido Tamio. The philosophy behind Facial Index is to blend traditional craftsmanship with the latest technologies. The end result is the creation of eyeglasses that are both precision tools and timeless objets d’art.

The suitably understated yet swish Facial Index boutique – there’s only the one in Tokyo – sits in the refined Marunouchi district opposite the Marunouchi 2-chome Building.

facial index marunouchi

blinc aoyama

brands: Oliver Goldsmith, Persol, Ray-Ban, Cutler and Gross, Lindberg, ic! berlin, DressCode, H-FUSION

Blinc aoyama is a compact boutique in one of Tokyo’s more refined districts. It’s distinguished by the calibre of the mostly imported – and domestic – labels it stocks. While the American and European brands need little introduction, the hand-made classic acetate frames of Japanese brand H-FUSION and the classic retro designs of Clayton Franklin spectacles are worth checking out as are the cool contemporary shapes of DressCode. Blinc aoyama often features exclusive collections such as the Courreges catalog re-release and the current display of the Cutler & Gross Vintage collection.

Blinc Aoyama is on Gaien-Nishi dori just west of the Aoyama dori intersection.

erotica shinjuku


brands: mykita

Mykita sounds like a Japanese label, but is actually a Berlin based company with stores in Europe, the USA and Tokyo, and is one of our favorite European eyewear labels. Mykita’s hand made eyewear – in metal or acetate – is defined by clean styling with either modern lines or an updated retro look and featuring an innovative hinge design. Frames range from the bold to the uber-thin stainless steel designs. The Tokyo store echoes the design of the company’s other boutiques with its striking acrylic feature wall and clinical white surfaces.

The compact basement level boutique is located off Omotesando.

mykita omotesando

If you need more in the way of eyewear, make a date in your calendar on October 11, 12 or 13, when Tokyo Big Sight hosts IOFT, International Optical Fair Tokyo, Asia’s leading optical trade fair.