Shopping is a national sport in Japan, especially in the capital of Tokyo. If you can’t buy it in Toks, it probably doesn’t exist. So what should you buy? Here are my top five:
- ¥100 novelty items. There are thousands of ¥100 shops all over Japan. They sell household goods and stationery. Each item is priced at ¥105 (¥5 is tax) which is approximately $1 Aussie dollar. The market leader of ¥100 shops is Daiso. The one in Harajuku has five floors. I bought sushi makers and paper lanterns. I would have bought little Japanese plates and bowls too but didn’t want to risk transit breakages. For those, you can go to the recently opened Daisos in Melbourne and Brisbane. Items are priced at $2.80.
- Cheap and cheerful clothes from Uniqlo and H&M. These are international brands that haven’t made it to Australia yet. Uniqlo sells basics in every colour and H&M sells fast fashion. The Uniqlo flagship store in Ginza has eleven floors for men and women. I bought jeans, t-shirts, pyjamas and high tech thermal tops – not really sure exactly what that meant but all items purchased have been worn on high rotation. Jeans were ¥2900 ($30). I bought three.
- Oil blotting paper from Yojiya. Yojiya is a make-up brand with a distinctive logo: a black and white face of a girl in a mirror. The brand originated in Kyoto. There are only two stores in Tokyo – one is in Shibuya. The flagship product is oil blotting paper which is perfect for getting rid of the 3pm shine. A pack of 20 is ¥300 ($3). I also bought hand cream and lip balm.
- Something crazy from Don Quijote. Don Quijote is a 24 hour discount store that sells just about anything you might need at 3am; from kinky costumes to colourful wigs; bicycle parts to luggage and a designer section on the top floor. I’m not sure how genuine the designer stuff is but I feel that Japan is pretty against knock-offs. This store is heaps of fun to browse. The one in Shinjuku kept me entertained until the wee hours of the night and I missed my last train. The prices weren’t cheap and I was overwhelmed with choice. I only bought green tea Kit Kats.
- Something from MUJI – if you’ve ever wanted to Jap-up your home so it looks a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), you need to go to MUJI for your home accessories. MUJI is sometimes referred to as the Japanese Ikea as each item is designed for maximum functionality. The Japanese people live in tiny, tiny apartments. MUJI also prides in simple design with recycled materials and natural tones. I stocked up on little storage trays ¥700 ($7) at the flagship store in Ginza.