Japan · Life in Japan

Your Quick Guide to Shopping in Japan

There are many electronic, international food and drink, clothing, general day-to-day accessories, and furniture stores in Japan. So much so that it can get all quite overwhelming when you need to buy something in particular but have no clue where to look first.

During my time living in Japan as an ALT on the JET Programme, I discovered that many of these stores helped me to adjust better to living in the country as I decorated my apartment in all manner of awesome items, furniture, and stocked up on ‘comfort’ food (for those times of home-sickness), and was happy to call it my little “home away from home”.

Below I have listed some of the main places where I shopped (mainly in Hiroshima prefecture), as well as other online sites. Click on the name, or image, to reach the store’s website.
Note: Most of the stores listed below are nationwide (unless otherwise stated). To see if any are in your area just check out their locations on the websites.
Department stores cover pretty much any item you may be looking for. From food, clothing, household goods, stationery and hobbies, to cosmetics, toiletries, entertainment and games. There are many of these stores across Japan, which I unfortunately cannot all list here, but below are just a few that I shopped at during my time in Japan.
Hiroshima Prefecture only

There are so many clothing stores out there, so I’ve just provided links to two that I know are somewhat popular among JETs, especially Uniqlo.

A popular place to shop as they have a great HEATTECH range for winter.

There are quite a few stores like these around Japan, but the following two examples are the only ones I really know. But do take note that even in my local supermarket I found international brands – especially for condiments and sauces, like Skippy Peanut Butter and Heinz products.

One of my favourite stores to visit for their coffee and international food. There have many recognisable brands, such as Cadbury, Old El Paso salsa and tortillas, and Tim Tams (my favourite!).
 This picture below if of the one I frequented in Hiroshima. It is located in the basement floor of Hiroshima City train station.
I know of JETs who go to Costco with suitcases in order to buy in bulk.
You will find some form of health store/pharmacy no matter where you are in Japan. In Hiroshima, the health store I mainly shopped at was called Himawari, however there were many smaller health shops dotted around the area, and a lot of the items, such as toiletries, can be found in many department stores as well.
Location seems limited to Chugoku, Kansai and Shikoku region.
There is only one electronic store that I shopped at, and loved every minute of it. Edion is the place to buy all your electronics and gadgets. From cameras, printers, laminators, tablets and laptops, to fans, heaters, rice cookers, hair straighteners and air-conditioners. Edion has it all!
I wasn’t much for buying books while in Japan (I read online most of the time), but I did once or twice visit Book-off to see what it was all about – books… pretty much. I am sure there are many other shops out there that sell books, I just don’t know where.
CDs , DVD, books, hobbies, and accessories.
Great shop for buying anything related to anime and manga.
One of my favourite places in Hiroshima’s Hon Dori shotengai. The Jump Shop sells all merchandise related to the manga and anime created under their brand.
You will find these stores everywhere! However, I must say that I think that Daiso tops the list at being the most amazing store out there. You can buy practically everything from this store, such as a huge selection of stationery, kitchen cutlery and crockery, storage containers, household items, cleaning products, and so much more! And, the products are really cheap! Pretty much everything I used in my apartment came from Daiso, and all my creative projects and prepping for lessons came from there as well. Ah Daiso… I miss you so much!
It took me a while when in Japan to discover the conveniences of online shopping. However, once I did it was hard to stop! There are a few, but the ones I know of are listed below.
 I never ordered from Rakuten, but I know others who have. They have the main Japanese site (above link), and then a global site in English (below link).
Ordering from Amazon Japan was so convenient and efficient. For most items you can do cash on delivery (no need for a credit card). You can either get your order delivered directly to your door, or to the nearest convenience store where they keep it for you and you just pay the cashier when picking it up.
 Craving meat? Well this is the place to shop at. I never ordered from The Meat Guy myself, but I did know of others who got together with friends and bulk ordered a whole lot of it – which is a great idea if you want to save on delivery costs.
When I had to buy a bed for my apartment I went through Nitori. I first looked at their online store to get prices, and then headed over to an actual store not far from where I lived. There I was able to buy my bed (along with a few other things) and arrange for a delivery date and time – surprisingly they could deliver on a Saturday (lots of stores only do delivery during the working week).
The main website that shows store locations.
 Their online shop.
  • Most cities have their own shopping districts that are usually long rows of shops – for example, Hiroshima City has the Hon Dori shotengai – that have an array of shops, restaurants, arcades, pharmacies, health stores, jewellery stores, hobby and accessory stores, etc. If you are new to the area, find out if your city/town has one as well.
  • Ask for recommendations of where best to shop from work colleagues and friends who live in the area. You may find better deals in the smaller stores and at farmers’ markets where the fruit and veg should be substantially cheaper compared to large chain stores.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment below if you have any more shopping suggestions or queries. 🙂

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