Shopping In Japan

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Posted on January 3, 2015 9:12 pm | Leave your thoughts

Shopping in Japan is a national pastime, which makes it one of the greatest places in the world to go shopping. There are an amazing amount of unique and special items one can find, including high tech electronics, super cute products, and weird objects found only in Japan. Here is a brief rundown of shopping in Japan, looking at the typical stores and areas that are of interest.

Shopping In Japan: Overview

Shopping Malls

Japan’s shopping malls are not only spacious, but they have hundreds of speciality stores featuring Japanese and international food, fashion brands and variety stores. Because you may be covering a lot of distance, you might enjoy a break at one of the many coffee shops, bars or restaurants.

Department Stores

Providing everything you need in one building, Japan’s department stores are world class. Floor guides are sometimes available in English. Department stores have high quality, branded goods ranging from fashion & cosmetics, to stationary and kitchen utensils. The top floors usually have an international selection restaurants. During summer, you will often find open air beer gardens on the roof serving tall, ice-cold glasses of beer. Most enjoyable are the basement food sections in department stores. They are filled with the most beautifully presented selection of sweets and savory delicacies. Shinjuku, Ginza and Nihonbashi are the areas you will find the greatest concentration of department stores.


Supermarkets are plentiful in residential areas. General supermarkets like Daiei, JUSCO and Ito-Yokado focus more on food and low priced clothing, making them the best places to daily supplies. There are more specialized supermarkets where you can find a large selection of imported goods from around the world. All supermarkets are open 7 days a week, almost every day of the year. Some are starting to open 24 hours a day.

Speciality Stores

Stores specializing in fashion items, electronics, food and more are plentiful and have a wide selection of items to choose from. If needed, the very knowledgeable staff is prepared to advise you.

Drug Stores

Japan has 2 kinds of drug stores. At general drug stores such as Matsumoto Kiyoshi, you can get cosmetics, toiletries, cleaning supplies, snacks and non-prescription drugs. If you need prescription drugs, you will need to visit a pharmacy. Pharmacies are usually located very close to clinics or hospitals.

Budget Shopping

Shopping on a budget can be fun. 100-yen-stores, where everything you see costs 100 yen (105 yen including tax), have appeared everywhere over the last few years. They have an amazing selection of everyday hardware and food items. You can also shop at recycle shops to find hidden gems of almost new and hard to find goods.

Convenience Stores

24 hour convenience stores, known as “Konbini” in Japanese, are everywhere. Drinks, snacks, magazines, and pre-packaged meals are the staple of these stores. You will also find other supplies for daily life like batteries, blank CDs, mobile phone chargers, underwear, umbrellas and vitamins. Most convenience stores have multimedia kiosks where you can buy tickets for concerts, make travel reservations and much more.

Sample Prices of items in Japan

Prices can vary greatly depending on where you shop, so here are some approximate prices of everyday products.

Mineral Water500 ml130 yenSalad oil400ml260 yen
Rice5 kg2,480 yenFlour1kg258 yen
Eggs10 eggs187 yenDetergent1kg398 yen
Milk1,000ml158 yenToilet Paper12 rolls398 yen

Shopping Districts

Japan has a number of specialized shopping districts.

  • Ginza’s streets are lined not only with well established stores selling Japanese traditional goods, but also with numerous shops and department stores selling high-end International brands.
  • Omotesando is home to many exclusive designer brand shops and select boutiques. It is also a very popular area for young, fashion minded people.
  • Shibuya is a favorite shopping area for young people. You can find almost anything you are looking for at the wide variety of shops.
  • In Harajuku there is a street called Takeshita dori, where Japan’s youth gather to find the latest and craziest fashion. It is worth a stroll just to see the selection of goods.
  • Meguro dori is home to a collection of furniture and interior stores.
  • Shin-Okubo has a small Korean Town.
  • Jinbucho is the district for second hand books.
  • Ameyoko in Ueno offers low budget food and clothing.
  • Akihabara not only specializes in electronics, but is the Manga and Anime heart of Japan.
  • Kappabasho is the place restaurants go to get their kitchen supplies as well as the plastic food replicas you see in their displays.
  • Yokohama has Japan’s biggest China Town.

Sale Seasons

Major sales take place in early summer and in the winter at the beginning of the New Year. Advertisements are posted on trains and elsewhere announcing sale dates and discounts. Eager you get one of the limited Fukubukuro (luck bags) containing a mystery selection of products at a greatly reduced price, people arrive early and form lines outside of the department stores.

Outlet Malls

There are many outlet malls around Tokyo and Yokohama. Some have direct busses from Tokyo Station and Shinjuku Station.
Check their websites for mire information.


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This post was written by Matt Desmond

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