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What to Buy l Where to Buy

Where to Buy

A few things to remember before you head off on your shopping expedition :

1) Shops and sales outlets in Japan are generally open on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays as well as on weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

2) Department stores are closed on one weekday. This varies from store to store and certain specialty shops may not even open on Sundays and national holidays. Please note that department stores close at least one hour (7:00 p.m.) earlier than most other stores.

Do bring your passport along to enjoy tax-free shopping. Duty-free shopping is possible only at Japan's international airports. However, there are authorized tax-free shops in urban shopping districts with English speaking staff to cater to tourists. A number of tax-free shops are located in Tokyo's International Arcade and Kyoto's Handicraft Center. Certain items that amount to over 10,000 are exempted from Japan's 5 percent "consumption tax".

If time permits, compare prices between discount stores and bargain markets before making a purchase.

Now, let's get down to WHERE we can find products to shop for.

You can find a wide range of products at duty-free prices in hotel arcades, shopping centers, department stores, and specialty shops. Supermarkets and bargain markets are other places worth exploring.

When it comes to shopping, there's always something for everyone in Japan.

A Variety of Stores (A World of Choices)

Hotel Arcades & Shopping Centers

Hotel arcades or shopping centers are conveniently located near major hotels. English is spoken at these shops, thus enabling smoother transaction as well as easy shopping.

Department Stores

In line with Japan's tradition of excellent customer relations, you will find affable staff as well as an expansive variety of high-quality products. Many stores even hold frequent art and craft exhibitions and English-speaking personnel can be called in for special assistance. Indoor playgrounds are available to make shopping a pleasant experience for parents.

Underground Shopping Malls

Underground shopping malls have proven to be a unique experience, with the mass crowd and different shops packed together. They are located near most major railway stations and below the busy streets of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. The "i" information office will have more information on these malls.

Specialty Shops

Located in the bigger cities, specialty shops offer anything from stationery to toys to haute couture.

Discounts & Bargains (A Cheaper Alternative)


Mainly located in residential areas, supermarkets are economical alternatives to department stores. Aisle after aisle of foodstuffs, cooking accessories, and other sundry goods offer incredible buys. Daiei, Seiyu, Jusco, and Itoyokado are among the major supermarket chains in Japan.

Discount Stores

With such a wide range of choices, discount stores undercut the competition with high volume, cash-only bargains. These stores are located near train stations as well as other busy areas. Again, the "i" information office can provide tips on discount shopping.

Bargain Markets

Located in wholesale districts, these markets sell a wide range of merchandise at wholesale prices. Cameras and audio equipment are best bought in Shinjuku and Ikebukuro in Tokyo. Akihabara's "Electric Town" is the place to find electrical and computer products, while food and other general items are mainly acquired at Tsukiji and Okachimachi, again in Tokyo.

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