#1 Start early!
Department stores and other large shops in Japan generally open their doors starting at 10 or 11 a.m. Not many shoppers are in the mood to go shopping prior to breakfast. Most stores open on weekends and national holidays, but be careful as they close on January 1st, New Year’s Day. In other regional cities, you can purchase local goods at “morning markets” (no brand-name goods are sold). Some stores such as convenience stores are open 24 hours a day.
#2 I would like to talk with the sales staff!
When you walk into a store, the sales staff will greet you with the expression “irasshaimase,” which means “welcome, please come in.” Take your time and enjoy shopping. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Recently, the number of sales staff that can speak English or Chinese is increasing. They will surely be hospitable toward you even if they speak limited English or Chinese. You might consider using your smartphone to get your message across.
#3 Will the sizes fit?
If you want to try on clothing or test make-up products, just ask a staff member. Fitting rooms are available to try on clothing. Please be aware that if you return tax-free purchases, the procedure may take a lot of time.
#4 Can I negotiate pricing?
In Japan, you won’t be able to negotiate a lower price than that which is displayed. Some electronics stores or flea markets might let you bargain the price down, but the price tag is generally the final price.
#5 Some items aren’t available for sale…
Items such as popular women’s color contact lenses cannot be purchased without a prescription from a doctor. Note in particular that some medicines at drug stores cannot be purchased without the pharmacist there.
#6 Can I send this back home?
Shopping in Japan is reassuring, safe, and fun, and you might find yourself with too many souvenirs to bring home at the end of your trip. Services that send purchased goods to overseas addresses, hotels, or airports have become more popular, but such services are not available at every location. Please ask the sales staff at the store. Moving forward, Japan is working to promote hands-free travel, so we hope you’ll look forward to these new conveniences.
#7 Can you wrap as a gift?
Once you have paid for an item, it will be bagged or marked with colored tape. Department stores, clothing stores, gift shops, and other stores will wrap your items if you indicate that they are for a gift. Please ask the sales staff if you want to wrap your purchased goods as a gift. They will then wrap the items using the store’s wrapping paper and ribbons, or bag as a gift. While this is often a free service, some stores charge a minimal fee for wrapping or packaging.
Essential information Apps for shopping in Japan