Japan Shopping: 10 Tips

If you are a shopping enthusiast, make sure you try shopping in Japan. The tips below will help you plan your next shipping spree in this vibrant Asian country.  You will be surprised by how much fun Japan shopping is!

  1. Cash. Unlike the United States, Japanese people do not use debit or credit card unless they are making a huge purchase.  To avoid inconvenience, bring a lot of cash with you.  Most places in Japan are very safe so you do not need to worry about security while doing your shopping in Japan.
  2. Tokyo. As the capital of Japan, Tokyo is an energetic and eclectic city. Tokyo may also be your favorite spot for some Japan shopping.  Some of the most popular Japan shopping spots in Tokyo are Ginza, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, and Aoyama.  Not only will you find department stores, you will also see a lot of unique little stores on the street. If you are looking for high-end fashion, do not forget to go to Ginza, which can be reached through the subway system.
  3. Osaka. Osaka is another city regarded as the "heaven" for enthusiastic shoppers.  Visit Shinsaibashi for sophisticated Japanese department stores and European designer brands. A lot of American tourists also enjoy going to Amerika-mura, which is a district with trendy clothing stores targeting the younger generation.
  4. Flea Markets.  Japan shopping can be extremely expensive if you only shop at brand name stores.  When you are in Tokyo, don't forget to visit the flea markets in the city.  You will be surprised how cheap and fulfilling Japan shopping can be!  Here are some popular flea markets that you will want to check out: Mukuhari Jumbo Flea Market, Meiji Park Flea Market, and Yoyogi Park Flea Market.
  5. Tax Refund. All goods in Japan come with a 5% tax.  However, if you are not a Japanese resident, you are eligible to get a tax refund for non-consummable products (everything except food and drinks) if you spend at least 10,000 Yen before tax.  Most department stores have a tax refund counter and the staff will check your receipts and passport before giving you your money back for more Japan shopping.
  6. Opening Hours.  Despite the popular belief that Japan is an energetic country that never sleeps, most stores are open only from 10am to 8pm.  Do plan your Japan shopping around that schedule.
  7. DVD and Games. If you are a fan of Japanese drama or anime, you may want to purchase some DVDs during your Japan shopping.  However, unless you know the Japanese language, you may be disappointed by the purchase as Japanese domestic DVDs do not come with subtitles.  Also, the DVDs in Japan are in Region 2 and they use NTSC-J formatting.  Make sure your equipment at home are suitable for these DVDs. The video and PC games produced in Japan are also not compatible with game consoles in the United States, with the exception of PlayStation 3, PSP, and NDS.
  8. Electronics. Japan is one of the most famous country in designing and producing electronics.  Most electronics, except cell phones, will work in the United States and they are usually of excellent quality.
  9. Fashion Brands. Japanese are famous for its creativity not only in electronics but also in fashion. Some local brands you may want to look into are A Bathing Ape, Beams, Comme des Garcons, and Evisu.
  10. Outlets. If those brands are out of your budget, you may visit some of the outlets in western Japan.  Some of the more popular ones include Hiroshima Marina Hop, Rinku Premium Outlets, and Tosu Premium Outlets.
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