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What to Buy l Where to Buy

What to Buy

Shopping in Japan is a varied and enjoyable experience. You can purchase anything from cutting edge electronic products to beautiful traditional Japanese arts and crafts. Here are some suggestions to get you started.


Pearls and pearl jewelry are popular purchases for foreign visitors. A local firm, Mikimoto, first developed cultured pearls by using a delicate technique that introduces an irritant into the pearl oyster. They come in a great variety of sizes, shapes and colors. The prices depend on the regularity, size and luster of the pearls. It is advisable to check the prices of pearls in your own country before making a purchase.

Electric and Electronic Appliances

Transistor radios, mini-TV sets, CD players, personal computers, VCRs, video cameras, tape recorders, stereos and hi-fi equipment, digital clock-radios, and pocket-size electronic calculators are available anywhere in Japan. Japanese electrical and electronic goods have a glowing reputation all over the world.

Cameras and Optical Goods

Good deals can come in the form of cameras (video and still), lenses and accessories, binoculars, microscopes, and telescopes. As most of the best brands in camera equipment are Japanese, you can be sure of competitive prices on their home turf. With some effort, a second-hand camera and lens can be yours for half the price of new equipment. Second-hand shops are found in Shinjuku and Ginza in Tokyo.

Watches and Clocks

Timepiece makers Seiko and Citizen are well known over the world. These timepieces are popular items in the arcades of leading hotels and jewelers as well as department stores.

Arts and Crafts

Every region of Japan has its own unique arts and crafts handed down from generation to generation.


The Japanese umbrella (kasa) is a favorite souvenir item. It comes in two forms: higasa, which is made of paper, cotton or silk and serves as a sunshade, and bangasa, which is made of oiled paper and keeps the rain off. Many department stores and tourist shops will have kasa available for purchase.


In Japan, the carp is much revered for its tenacity and perseverance. You can see Koinobori (carp banners) flying from poles in Japan. These elegant banners are available from Shibuya's Oriental Bazaar in Tokyo and are occasionally sold in tourist shops.

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