Japan is home to luxurious fashion labels, Asian pop culture and mouth-watering cuisine. But it's also a shopping paradise - even for those who are visiting on a budget!
Whether you are travelling to Hokkaido, Okinawa, Osaka or Tokyo, you would definitely want to make full use of your trip and bring home memories with you that do not break your bank ? So allow us to share with you some money-saving tips for the ultimate trip to Japan!
Managing Your Budget
Bringing a lot of cash may be a hassle for travellers especially in countries such as Japan, which lowest denomination of coins is a 1-cent coin. But Japan's preferred payment method is by cash so we recommend dividing your money on a per-day basis, such that you only bring out some of the money you brought each day.
If you do run out of money or prefer using card, then you can still go cashless! To spend within your budget, limit the spending amount of your card per day. Do remember to activate your card’s magnetic strip for overseas use before your trip.
Now that we've gotten the basics settled, onto the shopping!
1. Quality Fashion Wear
Shop more for less when you head down to the many Flea Markets located all over Japan, notably in Yoyogi Park Flea Market. One of the oldest flea markets in Tokyo, it operates monthly in Yoyogi Park and is filled with many quality second-hand apparel and accessories!
Credit: Guilhem Vellut on Flickr
For those who just can't get enough of sneakers, check out the bargains at ABC Mart. Local and foreign-branded sneakers can be found at the many outlets of ABC Mart located all over Japan! Stock up on sneakers at discounted prices but do make sure you have baggage space to bring them home?
Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson on Flickr
Hipsters, we didn't forget about you! Head to Harajuku - a street in Tokyo where you can find hipster apparel. Shop for affordable loafers, baseball caps, flannel shirts or retro t-shirts along Tokyo’s longest hipster fashion street.
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2. Authentic Japanese Snacks
What is a trip to Japan without trying out (and bringing home) authentic Japanese snacks? Even for those travelling on a budget, you can't miss out on this! Get yourself a box of Matcha Green Tea or unique flavours of Kit Kat at Japan’s biggest discount store, Don Quijote. It sells everything and anything including Japanese snacks?
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But do take note that there are only a few Halal-certified snacks. For those which are not, we usually check the ingredients before purchasing them! If there is no English translation for the ingredients list, we suggest doing a quick search on Google.
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A number of Don Quijote outlets also sell fresh and hot sweet potatoes. Not only are they healthy, they are affordable and extremely delicious! Yummy?
3. Wallet-friendly Souvenirs
Spend as little as 100-yen on your souvenirs in 100-yen shops located all over Japan, namely Can Do and Seria. If your budget is not too tight, try the 300-yen shops such as 3Coins, CouCou and Mikazuki Momoko!
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If you are travelling to Tokyo and have a little bit more Yen to spare, then head over to Nakamise Shopping Street in Asakusa for a crazy shopping spree! The entire shopping street leads straight to Senso-Ji Temple. Expect to find many Japanese memorabilia (and yummy Matcha ice-cream) along this famous street.
4. Awesome Beauty Products
Attention, ladies! Shop till you drop for cheap beauty products, cosmetics and toiletries in Japan's many drugstores. Our personal favourite is Matsumoto Kiyosh, Japan’s biggest drugstore chain! The store’s signature yellow and blue signage and bright lights make it hard for one to miss, especially in Japan’s main cities?
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Another chain of stores where you can find wallet-friendly beauty products is Daiso. Many would be familiar with this brand as it expanded to Singapore and Malaysia, offering Japan-made beauty products and toiletries at really affordable prices!
Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson on Flickr#HHWT Tip:
A number of beauty products sold in Japan may not be Muslim-friendly. Do ask the staff about the ingredients used or research the item online before purchasing it!
5. For the Gadget-heads
If you are looking for cheap, affordable electronics or gadgets, look no further than Yodobashi Camera. They have a number of stores all over Japan. You can find electronics ranging from home appliances to cameras.
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The prices of international brands, however, may not differ much from other stores. On the other hand, Japanese brands such as Nintendo and Toshiba are much cheaper in Yodobashi Camera!
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Another well-known electronics store is Sofmap. The stores might not be as big as Yodobashi stores but they do carry a reasonable variety of wallet-friendly electronics.
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6. Must-Have Japanese Toys
Unleash the child in you in Japan - home to diverse cultures, including pop culture! Japanese pop culture has not only revolutionised Asia but has taken over the world by storm with well-known animes such as Pokemon, Dragonball Z and One Piece?
Toy collectors can find really cheap figurines and collectibles at Nakano Broadway in Tokyo. The rustic architecture of Nakano Broadway makes one feel like they are in a shopping mall in the 1980s. Reminisce your childhood days shopping for toys as you walk through rows of shops selling cheap first-hand and second-hand toys!
Credit: nakashi on Flickr
For those with a little bit more cash in hand, you may choose to head to Den Den Town in Osaka or its equivalent, Akihabara in Tokyo. There are a number of shops which sells affordable figurines and collectibles along the entire street.
7. Convenience Stores
You'd probably agree that convenience stories are every budget traveller's best friend? And there are many, many convenience stores in Japan! The Japanese live a very fast-paced life especially those residing in Tokyo so they often head to their nearest convenience store for a quick bite or to get their daily needs.
Get yourself a bottle of ice cold coffee (various brands) before you start your day. It’s refreshing and it really packs a punch!
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There are 3 main convenience stores in Japan; Family Mart, Lawson and 7-11. They offer a large variety of snacks, ready-to-eat meals, toiletries, books and medication. You can also find ATMs which accept foreign transactions in Japan's 7-11 stores!
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There are only a few Halal Japanese snacks or tidbits, and the ingredients list of many are not in English. Do dine at your own discretion.
8. Walk everywhere
Most of Japan’s shopping districts are located very close each other, so walking from one shopping district to another would not be too much of a hassle!
Take Shibuya in Tokyo for example, the shopping metropolis famous for the giant road crossing is a 30-minute walk from Harajuku or Roppongi. And along the way, you may be able to find street-side stores where you won't resist just stopping and shopping?
Credit: Benny Ang on Flickr
Walking not only saves you money, it is a healthier alternative to taking the public transport!
9. Tax-free shopping
The pros of shopping in Japan as a traveller is the fact that you can shop at certain stores tax-free! A number of stores allow tax refunds. An example is Don Quijote which provides tax refunds for travellers who spend at least 5000 Yen before tax!
Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson on Flickr
Another alternative is to do your shopping (especially for tidbits and snacks) in the airport’s many duty free stores. Items can range from electronics to books, snacks to souvenirs. We'd say it's a good way to spend your time while waiting for your flight?
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What are you waiting for! With these tips in mind, you can have fun shopping in one of Asia’s biggest shopping havens and at the same time, try out Japan’s amazing cuisine and experience a culture like no other ?