Shopping in the Land of the Rising Sun is a great adventure because Japan really does have it all – from high-end items to traditional and vintage finds, cool gadgets, and sentimental pieces – there is absolutely something for everyone. In reality, Japan isn’t expensive as you might think it is. Finding what to buy in Japan it is just a matter of really doing your research to find out where the best shopping hubs are, and the best times to shop. Read on to find out what and how you can find the best souvenirs from your Japan trip.

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Best Things to Buy in Japan

There are certain knick-knacks and goods that you can only find in certain countries, especially Japan. This is what makes shopping a great learning and cultural experience. So whenever you find yourself here, be sure to go out of your way to find these items. You can definitely have them as souvenirs or gift items when you go back home.

1. Traditional Japanese Clothing

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Known as one of the most popular souvenirs, hybrid Japanese fashion is a must to buy when in Japan. But of course, you would want to actually wear them so when choosing these clothing items, try to go for a haori, which is hip-length kimono. This can be worn over jeans and a simple tee. Another item to buy is a hair ornament called kanzashi for an easy up-do.

2. Furoshiki Fabrics and Aizome Textiles


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If you consider yourself a serious shopper, you would have to buy yourself Japan’s fabric called Furoshiki. They can be used for many things, from wrapping gifts, makeshift handbags or bento.

Aizome textiles are famous for its blue hue from Japan’s indigo dyes. Making this textile uses a traditional dyeing technique known to a few craftsmen. These are not only rare but are very beautiful.

3. Omamori Charms


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These are amulets of good luck sold at Shinto shrines. There are different kinds of charms for different reasons. The success omamori can be found dangling in some students’ bags during exam time.

4. Japanese Ceramics and Specialty Japanese Paper

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You can find these babies in boutiques and malls. Japanese ceramics can come in teacups, shallow dishes, chopstick rests, and so much more. Another interesting find is the Kami and Washi Paper. This speciality paper is used for place mates, origami, paper crafts and wall art. Washi is a textured paper while Washi tape is a decorative tape with paper fibres which is artsier than 

5. Gotochi Goods


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These items are local specialities, regional flavours or charms that are not edible. They are sought-after because they are sold only in respective cities which explains how unique they are. One of the most famous of Gotochi goods is the Hello Kitty Gotochi Series charms. These are actually hard to find and therefore quite sought after.

6. Tea Confections (Wagashi) and Matcha


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You cannot say you’ve been to Japan without trying their tea and their tea confections. These traditional wagashi (tea confections) have been a thing since the Edo period. They are snack served with tea and are very light and delicate. The famous Japanese tea ceremonies would usually include Wagashi.

Also, the Matcha craze is real and what better place to get them if not in Japan, right? Matcha is used in Japan and China for tea ceremonies but today, it is added to almost everything – from beverages, desserts, and other dishes because of its strong but subtle green along with health benefits. Pick a bag of this delicious green tea powder and make sure to choose a ceremonial grade to get the best quality one.

7. Japanese Liquors, specially Sake

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Sake is known as one of the finest liquors in the world but Japan is equally famous for its high-quality whiskies. Wherever you may be in Japan, check out the local spirits. If you’re into fruit wines, traditional sake or whiskies, it is highly recommended to try Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt. For a time, this was known as the best whiskey in the world.

8. Festival Goods and Koi Streamers


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If you have kids back home, giving them Koi streamers or festive dolls are a good idea for a bedroom decor. These are not only decorative, but they also are symbolic of good luck and also courage and strength. Koi streamers are given during Children’s day (originally know as Boy’s festival). Festive dolls, on the other hand, are usually given during the New Year celebration known as Hina matsuri, hagoita.

9. Anime, Manga, Merch, and Japanese video games


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If you’re a die-hard fan of these, then you’re in heaven! Be sure to get your hands on as much manga magazines and Japan-only anime merchandise. You will definitely not regret this. DVDs of Anime are also great buys. For hardcore gamers, you’d have the time of your life in buying games that are only released in Japan. 

Where to Shop in Japan

Among the thousands of shopping neighbourhoods in several cities in Japan, there are certain places that are highly recommended by tourists and locals alike. Here are some of them.

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Shopping in Tokyo

  • Ginza (Tokyo) is the place to be for luxury shopping. The area has a lot of luxury department stores and flagships shops of famous brands. Ginza is considered the most expensive area of Tokyo.
  • Takeshita Street in Shibuya (Tokyo) is famous among the younger generation because as a shopping street, they feature small shops of subculture fashions. It is here that you find affordable restaurants and 100 yen stores, as well as crepe shops. This famous shopping strip is found at Jingumae 1 chome, Shibuya 150-0001, Tokyo Prefecture. You can shop till you drop from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.
  • Akihabara (Tokyo) is the best places to buy anything electronics, games and manga related. Take a few hours to walk around and discover all the shops and maid cafes. Visit 1-15-8 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0021. Shops are open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Shopping in Osaka

  • Umeda (Osaka) is nestled around the Osaka Station City complex very near to Umeda Station. It has four really large department stores and also has a number of malls and shopping streets. It is considered one of the largest shopping hubs in Japan. If underground shopping sounds interesting to you, visit Umeda’s interconnected shopping malls below the city streets from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. Japan’s largest department stores, Hankyu Umeda, is also found in Umeda and are open every day from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. They carry a lot of designer brands like Balenciaga, Chanel and Prada. Visit them at  8-7 Kakudacho, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8350, Osaka Prefecture. Another famous mall is Hanshin Umeda Honten featuring a lot of women’s clothing, dining options, souvenirs, and other knick-knacks at low prices. They are located at 1-13-13 Umeda, Kita-ku, Kita, Osaka 530-8224, Osaka Prefecture; and are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
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  • Osaka Station City is a complex station that has everything from trendy fashion, dining, and speciality shops. One of its famous department stores is Daimaru Umeda which is open all year round. Store hours are from 10:00 am to about 9:00 pm. Some shops close earlier, around 8 to 8:30 pm, but the restaurants on the 14th floor are open from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. They are located at 3-1-1, Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi.

Shopping in Yokohama

  • Minato Mirai (Yokohama) is a seaside urban area home to famous malls like Queen’s Square, Landmark Plaza, and World Porters. Minato Mirai is famous for its Red Brick Warehouses that were converted into dining and shopping centres. Queen’s Square is open from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. Their restaurants are open from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. Queen’s Square is located at 2-3 Minatomirai, Minatomirai, Nishi, Yokohama 220-0012, Kanagawa Prefecture. Landmark Plaza, on the other hand, located at 2 Chome-2-1 Minatomirai, Nishi Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Shops are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Finally, Yokohama World Porters opens at 10:30 am to 9:00 pm and are located at 2 Chome-2-1 Shinko, Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Shopping in Kyoto

  • Kyoto Station is one of the largest public buildings in Japan. It is also known because of the Isetan Department store. It also has three malls, of which two are found underground. There are also large shops like the Yodobashi Camera. The high-end shopping hub, Isetan Department store is located inside the Kyoto Station building located at Higashi Shiokoji-cho, Karasuma-dori, Shiokoji sagaru, Shimogyo-ku. They are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Other departments stores in Kyoto Station include The Cube, which sells confectionery, souvenirs and fashion finds. Visit their shops anytime between 8:30 am to 8:00 pm. Kyoto’s Underground Shopping Mall, Porta, is found directly beneath Kyoto Bus Station and connects with Kyoto Subway Station. They are open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. Lastly, Yodobashi Camera is open from 9:30 am to 10:00 pm.

When is the Best Time to Shop in Japan?

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The best time to shop in Japan, no matter what part of the country you’re in is during the sales in the summer (June to August) and winter (December to February) seasons. Trendy clothes get amazing price-drops during this time as well as an abundance of things to buy. Usually, in department stores, there are three stages to know of. The first is the “sale”, then comes the “clearance,” and finally, the “final closing sale.” It is in the third stage that you would want to really shop because it is at this time that you can avail of the biggest bargains.

Aside from the summer and winter, going on a shopping spree in the month of May during the Golden Week is also a good idea. The Halloween Sale in October also draws in a lot of shopaholics. One other interesting shopping season is during the Japan Series or the annual championship of the top baseball league of Japan. The sponsors of the season’s winning team hold sales in their stores throughout the country and everyone will get a chance to enjoy so many discounts.

Tips for Master Shoppers – How to make the most of your shopping in Japan

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Here are some practical tips to remember to enhance your shopping experience in Japan.

  1. If you’re a tourist, always bring your passport. This can be a coupon to cheaper deals because tourists are not entitled to the 8% sales tax on goods.
  2. Know that a lot of items that go on sale cannot be returned or exchanged.
  3. Some clothes on sale cannot be tried on before buying them. So familiarize yourself with the sizes you would want to buy. Sizes in Japan are typically smaller than those from the West side of the world.
  4. When shopping for food and beverages, shop at grocery stores to avoid overpriced items.
  5. Buy Kimonos from department stores because Kimonos that are sold in souvenir shops are a lot more expensive.
  6. Look for a 100 yen shop and shop there. It is the best spot for souvenirs and costs max out to 100 yen (~ 1.22 SGD).
  7. When you hear the Scottish folk song “Auld Lang Syne,” which is called “Hotaru no Hikari” in Japan, this means that the stores are about to close. They play this song 10 minutes before they call it a day.
  8. If you are shopping for shoes, be sure not to try on shoes barefoot as this is not polite in Japan. Wear or bring socks, or ask the staff who can give a sock or stocking for you to wear. Be extra careful in trying out shoes as well, shops are really particular about not damaging shoes so they are very, very gentle.
  9. Another thing to know is that you need to take off your shoes when you enter the dressing room. Never step on the carpeted area with your shoes.
  10. Always ask the staff for any assistance. They are there to offer help and are really good at it.
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We’ll never run out of things to buy in Japan

Now that you officially know how and where to shop in Japan, then going on a shopping spree is surely going to be an awesome experience. Be sure to dress comfortably, stay hydrated and always have a sense of excitement in every shop you visit. Enjoy shopping!

And you are looking for your next trip to Japan, don’t miss 8% upsize Cashback in Hotels from 14 to 20 September. You will want to stay in a comfortable place to rest after all the amazing shopping you will do.

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