Shopping in Japan is always exciting, thanks to the country's abundance of 100-Yen stores, homegrown boutiques, and bustling malls. If you're planning a trip, you're probably wondering which brands are cheaper in Japan compared to back home. We've done the hard work for you, so all you need to do is bring along an extra suitcase because with the weaker yen, you know you're going to do some serious shopping!
P.S. If you're looking for an easy guide to tax-free shopping in Japan, read till the very end!
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When is the best time to shop in Japan?
The best time to shop in Japan is during the summer sale (late June to mid-August) and winter sale (November to January). Between these two seasonal sales, the year-end is the most popular. Specifically, 29-31 December and the first two weeks of the New Year. To make the most of your trip, travel during the New Year when most stores in Japan would sell fukubukuro, also known as 'fortune bag' in Japanese, to lucky customers on a first-come-first-serve basis. You can look forward to bags filled with an assortment of products sold at a HUGE discount!
Where to shop for the best deals in Japan?
For the best deals on mid-range and luxury goods in Japan, shop at Gotemba Premium Outlets in Shizuoka or any Mitsui Outlets across Japan. During our previous trip to Mitsui Outlet Park Kisarazu, the country's largest Mitsui Outlet, we were overwhelmed by international brands such as Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Coach, and Paul Smith, and factory stores like Nike and New Balance.
There is Daikokuyawhich is found all over Japan where you can find branded goods, especially Louis Vuitton. Brand Off is another shop that sells second-hand handbags and watches.Komehyohas a more curated selection of handbags such as Gucci.
You can also find many tax-free shops that offer great discounts and promotions at Mitsui Outlets, especially during the summer and winter sales.
#HHWT Tip: Popular branded stores such as Gucci, LOEWE, Asics and Valentino are widely frequented by Japanese shoppers as the prices are slightly lower at Mitsui Outlet Park Kisarazu. You can spend hours shopping at this premium outlet alone!
Which brands are cheaper in Japan than back home?
Now that you know the best time and places to shop, the fun part is browsing brands that are cheaper in Japan. Get your credit card ready and let's go!
For fast fashion at low prices, you know GU is leading the pack in Japan. Since GU owns Japanese brand UNIQLO, shoppers often described the brand as the affordable version of UNIQLO - and the quality of fabric is as excellent as the latter! During seasonal sales, men's long sleeve shirts and women's long-sleeve pullovers can go as low as JPY590 (RM22).
Since GU sells a wide range of basic apparels, it's a great place to find effortless style pieces such as a white blouse, light cardigan, long flowy skirt and basic sweater. Just let the minimalist side of you shine!
If you love to stay warm and toasty in UNIQLO winter wear, there's no better place to shop for your favourite Japanese label than in Japan. While the prices may not be significantly cheaper compared to the outlets in Singapore and Malaysia, UNIQLO in Japan is still an ideal place to stretch your yen thanks to the seasonal discounts and promotions. They also have a broad collection of women, men and kidswear that are perfect for the whole family.
Before you step into a UNIQLO store, get the leaflet (chirashi in Japanese) at the entrance. It has a list of daily or weekly deals that are only available for a short period of time, so treat it like a treasure map! While browsing for jackets and printed tees, look out for the red signage to find items with newly reduced prices.
Adidas may be one of the biggest sportswear manufacturers in Europe, but you can still find sweet deals in Japan. Believe it or not, one of the must-buy items in Japan is sneakers! For awesome discounts, shop at Gotemba Premium Outlet in Shizuoka or the flagship Adidas Originals shop in Harajuku. Another place to shop is Adidas Brand Core Store in Shinjuku, which is also one of Japan's biggest Adidas stores featuring three floors of footwear. While discounts rarely apply to newly released sneakers, you can spot off-season sneakers from as low as JPY5,500 (RM202)! With that in mind, do research in advance and compare the prices with the sneakers you're eyeing on back home.
[P.S. Planning a trip to Europe?Check out these amazing luxury brands that are cheaper in Europe and the best places to buy them!]
If you can't shake off from the sneakers fever, Puma is your next stop for athletic and casual footwear. Some of the best places to shop for Puma sneakers in Japan are ABC-MART Shinjuku Main Blanch and Puma Harajuku.
Similar to other Japanese brands, you may chance upon Japan-exclusive sneakers that you won't find anywhere else - plus, these type of sneakers are cheaper too. Whether you're looking for running or classic lifestyle shoes, get them right here! Fun fact: Did you know that the founder of Adidas and Puma are brothers?
5. Onitsuka Tiger
Established in 1949, Onitsuka Tiger is one of the oldest shoe companies in Japan and its range of stylish footwear still stand the test of time. When finding the best places to shop for Onitsuka Tiger in Japan, we recommend the Onitsuka Tiger Shibuya that's also the second-largest store in the country (after the newly opened Onitsuka Tiger Namba in Osaka). Besides that, Sneaker Shop Skit Tokyo Kichijoji is another place to score good deals on 'deadstock' or limited-edition Onitsuka Tigers and other sneaker brands. At the time of writing, there was a pair of Onitsuka Tiger 'Tiger Alliance' sneakers sold for only JPY8,800 (RM326) at Sneaker Shop, and the normal price was JPY19,000 (RM703).
Anello has been in the shopping scene since 2005, and this Japanese brand is showing no signs of slowing down. The brand is popular for its lightweight canvas backpack complete with smooth zippers and spacious compartments. It's also a reliable travel bag that's roomy enough to carry all of your essentials wherever you go.
The best places to shop for anello backpack in Japan is the anello shop Tokyo in Shibuya. If you're making a side trip to Osaka, swing by the anello flagship store that's just a 7-minute walk from Shinsaibashi-Suji shopping street. We did a price comparison, and the anello bags are slightly cheaper in Japan. For instance, the Cross Bottle clasp backpack only costs JPY4,620 (SGD56) in Japan compared to the same product sold in Singapore for SGD65 (after discount).
Another Japanese retail company to look out for is MUJI. Founded in 1980 by Seiji Tsutsumi, the brand is at the forefront of minimalist style and no-logo products. While the clothes and bags at MUJI may not be cheaper than the ones back home, focus on MUJI's stationaries, notebooks and travel-sized items that are affordable during seasonal sales. For example, the large polypropylene case is priced at JPY190 (RM7.70) in Japan.
However, MUJI in Kuala Lumpur sells the same case for RM9.90. If you're interested to purchase a hanging case with a detachable pouch for your travel-sized items, it costs only JPY1,590 (RM59) in Japan but RM73.90 in Malaysia.
Despite being an international cosmetic retailer from the United Kingdom, Lush products are surprisingly cheaper in Japan. From bath bombs to shower moisturisers, you'll be spoilt by their selections (and pretty colours too!).
For instance, a Rocket Science bath bomb in Japan costs only JPY590 (RM21) compared to the same product sold in Malaysia for RM36. When our colleague visited Tokyo, she bought a Lush lip scrub that was 2/3 of the price in Singapore!
9. Bao Bao Issey Miyake
Only a true Bao Bao Issey Miyake fan would know that the bag's full range can be found in Tokyo. Whether your heart is set on the popular Lucent series or quirky Maru Maru range, the bags are said to be 30% to 40% cheaper in Japan compared to Singapore and Malaysia. Do spend some time at their outlets in Ginza, Shibuya, Minato-ku and more!
If the man in your life (or you) needs a new watch, a potential present awaits at Seiko in Japan. This reputable Japanese company has been around since 1881 and they're primarily known for manufacturing and selling watches. Ranging from the durable Pressage line to elegant Grand Seiko, they have a wide selection of watches that'll fit the personality and lifestyle of their wearer.
To tell if the watches are manufactured in Japan, look out for 'Made in Japan' on the back case and some high-end models even have it stamped on the dial. For limited edition or vintage watches, you're more likely to find it in selected Seiko stores. Fun fact: Did you know that Japanese watch collectors would seek out vintage Seiko watches released on their birth month and year?
It's definitely an open secret that G-SHOCK watches are cheaper in Japan. Manufactured by Japanese electronics company, Casio, they've been telling the time since 1983 and released designs that are leaned towards sporty and outdoorsy looks. To keep the prices low, most watches were manufactured in Japan. While some newer G-SHOCK watches are now being manufactured in China and Thailand, you can still find Japan-made products that are sold at great value.
12. Louis Vuitton
When it comes to finding cheap Louis Vuitton bags in Japan, it's all about knowing where to look. For great discounts on Louis Vuitton bags (or other brands such as Chanel, Hermes and Valentino), you can get them at Gotemba Premium Outlet or any Mitsui Outlets in Japan that are known for selling them at huge discounts.
Besides that, some of the popular places to shop for secondhand luxury goods in Tokyo are Book-Off and Komehyo stores. In fact, it's possible to get a Louis Vuitton wallet for JPY6,000 (RM221) from Book-Off in Nagoya! The Japanese pride themselves for taking excellent care of their luxury belongings, so you're very likely to purchase secondhand luxury items (mostly off-season) at good price and great condition.
[P.S. Guess what?Louis Vuitton is also one of the top brands that are cheaper in Paris!]
13. Clé de Peau Beauté
With its French brand name (which means “the key to skin's beauty"), you might be surprised to find out that this luxury beauty brand was founded in Japan in 1982. Known for its innovative skincare and makeup products and use of quality ingredients, it's no surprise that this brand is on the wish list of many! The good news is that it's considerably cheaper in Japan (even more so when you purchase in the duty-free store), so you might want to stock up when you're there. One of the bestsellers, the Correcting Cream Veil, retails at SGD100/RM265 and is available at duty-free stores in Japan at ¥6,500 (approximately SGD65/RM212).
14. Hada Labo
Hada Labo is known for its affordable hyaluronic (and other) skincare products. Their Hydrating line is probably one of the most popular products such as their Hydrating Lotion (Light) and their Hydrating Foaming Wash. Their Hyaluronic Acid Lotion is priced at SGD$17, however, it only costs ¥1,268 (SGD$12.50).
Shiseido is a high-end brand that has been a staple in the beauty industry for years. Reaching price points of $100 and more, Shiseido has quality products that have proved their effectiveness by being in the market for more than 20 years. Products such as their Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate are usually almost hitting the SGD$200 mark. However, prices in Japan are way cheaper, with the same product costing ¥11,400 which is SGD$112.
BONUS: Tax-free shopping in Japan!
With a whirlwind of mid-range apparel and luxury goods, it's no surprise to find many brands that are cheaper in Japan. Whether you're looking for a vintage Louis Vuitton handbag or Japan-exclusive Adidas sneakers, we hope this shopping guide will make your Japan trip worthwhile. If you're planning for more shopping trips, check out brands that are cheaper in London, Paris and Europe!