Store Watch

3 Essential Downtown Stores for Japanese-Made Wares

Flights from PDX to Japan aren’t back anytime soon. So maybe go shopping instead?

By Nic Brent September 15, 2022

A display of clothes at Nakamuraya

Image: By Nic Brent

First the bad news: Portlanders who stan Japan will have to wait a little longer for direct flights to Tokyo from PDX—Delta just announced that the service won't resume until next spring at the earliest.

Now the good news: while they wait, Japanophiles can find a surprisingly deep and diverse shopping scene right here in town, whether you’re looking for high-end luxury goods, streetwear, the preppy aesthetic, Americana-via-Tokyo or hype. Here’s our guide to some of our favorite downtown stores that sell all things Japanese.


Best for: Japanese anime, vinyl collectible figures, and sneakers

Enter this quaint storefront and run right into a giant selection of [email protected] ($179–649)., Banpresto ($7–117), and Kotobukiya figures ($43–479). The collection on display will be a throwback to ’80s babies raised on Yu-Gi-Oh! and Dragon Ball Z—that’s Japanese anime and trading card figures, for the uninitiated. Bait is the only Medicom toy stockist in Portland, making it the place for collectibles collabs with Disney, Grateful Dead, Gremlins Gizmo, and Utagawa Kuniyoshi. 

Bait also houses its own shop brand, and it stocks footwear and apparel from Nike, A Bathing Ape, adidas Y-3, Asics Tiger, and others. Watch for limited-edition collaborations with Cowboy Bebop and Initial D, and holiday drops so be ready for lines out the door on product launch days. 818 SW Broadway


Best for: Streetwear

Nakamuraya opened in October 2019, just a few months before the pandemic hit, with all the attendant disruptions to the retail scene. Its owners, though, say that they tried to make lemonade out of the proverbial lemons: "We've had the opportunity to learn more about what locals want, and the differences in what our online consumers are looking for," says owner Mitsu Nakamuraya.

"Initially, the average consumer shopping in store at Nakamuraya was unaware of Japan's sizing differences," Mitsu says. "This presented an opportunity to learn and educate consumers on the US size conversion.”

Pro tip: size up. The shoulders of a shirt or the seat of your pants are common areas of interest when searching for your size in Japanese clothing. That said, Nakamuraya does a great job of fusing street style and utilitarian looks. Look for brands like Guilty Parties Wacko Maria, the “Hawaiian” Shirts ($480), and Skate Trousers ($250), statement pieces that easily transition from work to a night out. 209 SW Ninth Ave

Racks of denim and more at Self Edge

Image: By Nic Brent

Self Edge

Best for: Denim 

This store in the Union Way shopping arcade is run by husband-and-wife Kiya and Demitra Babzani, who have been at it for more than 15 years with five locations across North America. Don't be surprised to see Rick Owens in store—the company moved its denim production to Japan, and Self Edge is the lone authorized dealer in the city. The orange (ish) Rick Owens Drkshdw Japanese Raw Denim ($875) will spice up any rack of indigo denim. 

Self Edge's jewelry selection

Image: Nic Brent

We also loved the Iron Heart 633S ($350) 21 oz denim and flannels ($350) made of Peruvian aspero cotton, with an amazing hand feel and durability. If that’s a tad bit out of your price range, Sugar Cane also offers comparable flannels at $200. And Samurai ringspun denim ($335) is one of the most eye-catching jeans on offer; the denim is weaved via tightly twisted slub yarns for amazing texture and fading potential. 1022 W Burnside St

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