While there are things that are comparably expensive in Japan, there are also quite a number of things that are extremely cheap. What’s more, you can only find it here! Sometimes it’s a matter of luck on discovering the exact spot that sells the item cheap — but there are also very specific things that are considerably less in price than other countries.
Don’t worry, you won’t need to be hunting for these items all around the country. I’ve done the hard part for you — here’s a carefully curated list of the cheapest things to buy in Japan along with where to get them.
1. ¥100 Products
Source: Gene Wang from Flickr
Scattered throughout Japan are stores that offer a variety of products at only ¥100! Who wouldn’t want to shop in a store where everything costs only ¥100 each? You might think that just because it’s priced at ¥100 that they might not be of good quality — think again. They’re actually high quality for the value.
In these ¥100 stores, you can get all kinds of daily necessities. Kitchen utensils, washing and cleaning supplies, gardening tools, interior decor and even cosmetics and electronics — the list is endless! It’s safe to say these ¥100 stores have everything. You can decorate a whole house without breaking the bank.
Where To Buy
All these ¥100 products can be bought at ¥100 stores — duh. There are tons of franchises that offer all their products at ¥100. These include Daiso, Seira and Can Do — they are the main and most common ones you’ll see on the streets of Japan.
2. Matcha Products
What is a trip to Japan without trying and buying the most famous Japanese products of all time: matcha. Matcha is made from finely ground a special type of green tea, and eventually turning these leaves into powder form. It’s not only delicious, but it also offers tons of health benefits.
The matcha hype is insane everywhere else in the world and it’s known to be a rather expensive product outside of Japan. However, in this country, it’s one of the cheapest things you can get! In fact, you can get matcha in quite a number of ways — everything from unique matcha desserts like matcha pancakes and matcha parfait to matcha drinks and chocolates, and the list goes on and on!
You might think that matcha is only available in edible products — you’re wrong! Even cosmetic products can be made with matcha. Matcha is actually extremely good for the skin just like green tea, and the Japanese cosmetic brands have taken advantage of this matcha hype to produce tons of matcha-inclusive cosmetic products.
Where To Buy
It’s not that hard to find matcha products in Japan. It’s scattered everywhere — so much that almost every store and restaurant you enter would have at least one matcha product to offer. The Japanese are nuts over matcha, after all.
The best place to look for matcha food products is none other than the great Don Quijote. This gigantic chain store can be found in larger neighbourhoods like Shibuya and Shinjuku in Tokyo. Keep an eye out for a matcha corner — it’s probably any matcha lover’s heaven.
3. Video Games & Game Consoles
For some of us who have been gaming since we’re a small kid, we probably have come across either a Japanese video game or a Japanese game console. Because they are made by Japanese companies, it’s only natural that they’re cheaper to purchase in the country itself than it is overseas.
When it comes to the older ones, Japan has special stores just for older editions of video games and game consoles, but they’re mostly second hand. On the plus side to that, these second-hand video games and game consoles go for extremely dirt cheap prices. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Where To Buy
For a wide selection of Japanese game consoles, Hard Off is probably the best place to get them. They have stores in most major cities in Japan, and each store has a different variety than the next. If you have the time to spare, pop by a few to have a huge range to choose from.
If you’re looking for video games, Super Potato and Book Off are great places to start your search. Super Potato specialises in retro games, so an interesting selection awaits you here. Book Off offers a ton of second-hand products and video games are among them. Unlike Super Potato where you can find their stores only in Tokyo, Book Off can be found in major cities in Japan, just like Hard Off.
Japan is extremely known for its technology. Japanese electronics are reputable for its “Made in Japan” quality, being far more trustworthy and reliable than some other countries.
You’ll get tons of deals for local electronic goods. Everything from rice cookers and ovens to cameras and handphones, nowhere else can you get these goods at a bargain price. Even electronic toilet seats are the cheapest to get in Japan — but maybe think twice about getting one if you’re going to have to deliver it over back to your country; there’s a solid chance the shipping costs more than the toilet seat itself.
Where To Buy
Akihabara is your one-stop for all things technology and electronics. Various electronic shops and department stores are here so you’re able to compare the prices and see which deals are best for you. The selection is crazy huge, and plus, some even offer English-speaking services.
Look out for big shopping malls like Yodobashi Camera. These kinds of shopping malls are the most convenient ones for foreigners and tourists, plus wonderful deals. Alternatively, you can check out Bic Camera — they’re known for a huge selection of electronics from various brands and constantly coming up with promotions!
5. Beauty & Cosmetics
Source: Dutch Blythe Fashion from Flickr
Every girl (and the occasional guy) can understand how much the accumulated amount for beauty and cosmetic products can get. But in Japan, the prices of beauty and cosmetic products are one of the cheapest you can get in the entire world!
Even though Japanese cosmetic and beauty brands can be found globally, including the luxurious ones like Shiseido and Shu Uemura, they’re priced at such a bargain in their local country.
A tip on shopping for beauty and cosmetics is to buy from brands of the same parent company as your favourite luxury brand. For example, if you’re a huge fan of Shiseido, the Japanese brand Kose is from the same parent company — you’ll get similar types of products for almost half the price.
Where To Buy
Basically any drugstore, pharmacy, supermarket or convenience store you enter, you’re bound to see a section just for them. The ultimate best places to get them are in pharmacies where there’s a substantial range of beauty and cosmetic products — think everything from ¥300 to ¥30,000!
It’s good to note that products and brands can vary depending on the stores they’re in, and especially in the town they’re in. If it’s in a store in busy towns like Shibuya and Shinjuku in Tokyo, chances are they’re marked at higher prices. Go down a few streets from the main street, or even out of the city center itself, to get better deals.
Another huge tip for shopping for beauty and cosmetics is that pharmacies tend to have sales and promotions from time to time — anything from a few hundred yen off of the total bill to a 10% discount off of all items.
Contrary to popular belief of Japan being one of the most expensive countries offering expensive products, it’s not all that bad. There’s quite a substantial selection of cheap goods to get in this country — from daily essentials from ¥100 stores and bargain-priced fishes to entertainment like video games and manga. What are you waiting for? Get shopping in Japan for all the cheapest things you can get, and at the end of the day, you won’t feel guilty about checking your bank account!