Shopping in Japan
You have a well paying job, so now you have to figure out where you're going to spend your hard earned cash. This page contains information about well known chains and convenience stores. Also check out Food Shopping, Book Stores, and Buying a computer.
Every place has shops unique to it. However, there are a number of restaurants, shops etc which can be found widely across the region. Most larger cities in Hyogo will have at least one of the following:
- Uniqlo: Everyone talks of Japan's extortionate cost of living, and more often than not it's fair comment - however, Uniqlo stands as an exception. Uniqlo has all the basic elements in a wardrobe with sizes that fit foreigners. There are Uni-qlo stores in Kobe, Himeji, Toyooka, and other locations all across Hyogo.
- Muji (無印良品): Recently William Gibson, author of 'Cyber-punk' and other books, wrote, "Muji... calls up a wonderful Japan that doesn't really exist. A Japan of the mind, where even toenail-clippers and plastic coat-hangers possess a Zen purity: functional, minimal, reasonably priced." This store, deeply fashionable in other countries, is all over the place here - selling cheap, well designed daily-use items for home and work. If you ever need a pen, washing machine or futon cover ... There are branches of Muji in Kobe (in the BAL building at the base of Tor Road) and all over Hyogo.
- ¥100 shops: It's not going to take colossal leaps of imagination to work this one out. Just don't underestimate what you can buy in these places: cutlery, stationery, 'party items', cheap presents to take back home for Christmas - the list is endless. If you ever need to equip your house (or yourself for almost anything) this is the cheapest place to start. 100-yen shops are everywhere, and watch for its up-market cousins, the ¥300 shop and the ¥1000 shop.
- Recycle shops: These are ubiquitous and an excellent place to find used electronics at discounted prices. (I got a combination DVD/VHS player for 3000 yen!) You can also try selling your old items for some extra cash.
- Big-box stores: More commonly found in suburban and rural areas, gigantic stores like JUSCO and AEON usually contain everything you'll need in your daily life in one convenient location.
- Department stores: Sogo, Daimaru, Hankyu, and others; these giant departments are to be found in city centers all over the region. They are somewhat pricey, but full of all kinds of clothing, cosmetic, and gift-type items. Of special note are the paradisiacal department store basements, which are filled with a heavenly array of gourmet foods and desserts.
Like most loan words, "convenience store" has been hacked down to the Japanese friendly コンビ二 (konbini). No special mental work needed to grasp the basic concept; the important thing is not to underestimate the endless array of goods and services offered by the 'konbini'. The food is compact, surprisingly tasty and generally nutritious, and there are decent selections of magazines, stationery, lifestyle goods, etc. You can usually pay your bills here and buy stamps. Sometimes concert ticket purchases and photocopying services are available, as are 24 hour ATM machines. Stores usually have decent public washrooms. Two symbols to watch out for are 酒 (sake), meaning that that particular store sells alcohol, and タバコ meaning that cigarettes are for sale. These signs will usually be hanging under the main sign outside. Many convenience stores are open 24 hours.
The most common convenience store chains are:
- Lawson Station
- Family Mart
- Asnas (Hanshin/Hankyu Railways)
- Heart-In (JR)
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The Hiring Process ・ Buying From Your Predecessor ・ Japanese Customs ・ Bringing Medicine To Japan ・ Presents For Coworkers ・ Tokyo to Hyogo ・ Residence Card ・ Changes to the Alien Registration System, July 2012 ・ First Few Days ・ Pension Book ・ Settling In At Home ・ Letter of Appointment ・ Personal Seal
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