May 20, 2020

Japan: A Shopper’s Paradise

From 100-yen Shops to High-end Department Stores

Two of the top interests for foreign travelers visiting Japan are “to experience Japanese food” and “to shop in Japan.”
The places commonly regarded around the world as “shopper’s paradises” are cities like Hong Kong, Seoul, New York, Paris, and London, but Japan always ranks high on the list too.

We want to introduce some hints and techniques for making both foreign visitors to Japan and international residents 100% happy and satisfied with their time in Tokyo, under the heading of “Japan: Shopper’s Paradise”.

According to a recent survey of foreign visitors to Japan, their reasons for being satisfied with shopping in Japan are the high quality of Japan’s customer service, and the rich lineup of products. From 100-yen shop items to electrical appliances, products from pricey western brands, and more, many foreign tourists and international residents rate Japan as the only place that has everything on offer.

To quote a comment from a foreign tourist, a traveler from Asia said “Shopping in Tokyo is stress-free and very comfortable. The department stores are the ultimate shopping experience in Tokyo. Whichever department store you go to, you’re treated with attentive service worth of royalty. In Japan, the shop staff are always perfectly polite, whether you’re going to buy anything or not”.

The key shopping experiences for getting to know the excellence of shopping in Japan, and the variety and dynamism of shopping in Tokyo, are 100-yen shops, and department stores. First, let’s take a look at 100-yen shops.

The Main Selling Points of 100-yen Shops are the Number of Products and Their Quality.
Japan’s 100-yen shops are certainly world leaders in the number and quality of items they offer. Products like stationery items, cellphone accessories and daily utensils, which are not available in other countries, are sold for a flat price of 100-yen each. Japan’s extraordinary product procurement strength is recognized both in Japan and overseas. Products can be returned if there’s any problem with them, and even if there is nothing wrong with a product, the customer can return if just by asking and showing the receipt. That’s worry-free shopping. If they’re going to buy a small item, many Japanese people think “I’ll look in a 100-yen shop first”.

The leading 100-yen shop chain is Daiso. ( It has 3,493 branches in Japan (as of February 2020), and 2,248 more in 26 countries overseas. The author knows some international residents who often go to Daiso to buy drinks and snacks. “The same foods that are sold in supermarkets for more than 100-yen are sold there for 100-yen, so there’s a direct feel of getting a bargain”, says one Daiso fan.

Other products on offer include crockery, cleaning and storage items, sewing equipment, kitchen utensils, stationery and office supplies, handicraft materials, cosmetics, party goods, and just about anything else. One foreigner studying Japanese was amazed to find vocabulary cards for studying kanji characters at a 100-yen shop. Anyone can see the wealth of the product lineup in Japanese 100-yen shops. 100-yen shops - you just have to go and see them!!

Japan’s Department Stores Offer Outstanding Product Lineups
Japan’s department stores have huge arrays of refined products. An American woman living in Tokyo says what she likes most about Japanese department stores is their extensive range of food-related products. There are various department stores all around Japan, and she says the fun of them is that they may have a selection of restaurants on the top floor, or a lot of stores that are hot topics in TV and magazines, and she can buy a splendid lunch or exquisite deli dishes.

Some department stores are staffed by “elevator girls”, as a uniquely Japanese service. Many foreigners say “It’s wonderful to have an elegant women, all dressed up in the store’s uniform, take you to your floor with a smile”.

Colorful displays of products and foods are a specialty of the department stores, prompting shoppers to buy on impulse. Fresh vegetables, custard-filled imagawayaki muffins, and western and Japanese-style cakes, are examples of products lineups that change with the seasons, or with differing regional specialties. Department stores offer many examples of products like these, which carry on traditions. Don’t miss the carefully-selected goods and unique service that department stores provide.