With winter approaching, most shop displays featured sweaters, scarves, gloves, and things not practical for Singapore’s tropical climate. So shopping this time is on anything but clothes. Still, my purchases covered the entire dining table. My husband commented that it would be disastrous if we had visited in Summer or Spring.
Presenting my favourite stores in alphabetical order:
A girl’s shop where everything cost 300 yen, unless there is a +plus which offers items at 1,000 yen as well. It sells accessories, stationery, household items and a host of knickknacks. Great for getting gifts.
2. BIC Camera
Do not be deceived by the name. Not only can you buy cameras here, you can also get bicycles, electrical appliances, wine, snacks, toiletries, toys, etc. My family was only interested in the toy section, where we got our nanoblock fix and a cool Star Wars pop-up toy. One plus point shopping in BIC Camera is that you get tax refund if you spend above 10,000 yen.
Who can resist stepping into a Disney store? I for one cannot, especially a Japanese one. And not just one store but three. I was on a mission to find Christmas and Inside Out Tsum Tsum for friends and relatives. The stuffed toys were so popular that they were sold out everywhere. But we managed to snag good buys (50% discount) from the Disney store at Osaka’s Hep Five shopping mall, the least crowded of the 3.
4. Don Quijote
Donki for short, this is supposedly Japan’s largest discount chain store. I only visited the one at Dotonbori and what caught my eye was the huge variety of Japanese snacks sold there. My favourite buys were boxes of DIY gummies recommended by a friend and a highly rated antiperspirant deodorant stick. I was really happy to find these at Donki as they could not be found in the other stores I went to.
My group was leaving the Muji flagship store in Yurakucho, Tokyo, when the Christmas decorations in an adjoining store caught our attention. Soon we were engrossed with Star Wars accessories, Sailor Moon toys, 2016 diaries and washi tapes. We later realised that the shop was Loft, a chain store that sells everyday commodities. We liked the store so much that we visited 2 other outlets, one at Lucua Mall Osaka and the other at Namba Osaka. Remember to show your passport to enjoy 5% discount. No minimum purchase amount required.
Singaporeans will be familiar with this Japanese store which has several outlets here. We decided to check out the range and prices over there. Firstly, the variety is greater, especially at the bigger outlets. Secondly, the prices are lower. My best buy was a bottle of Light Toning Water (High Moisture), highly recommended by a couple of beauty websites. It supposedly keeps your face soft and supple. The skin on my face always peels under dry and cold conditions, so I bought the smallest bottle to try. It worked so beautifully that I bought 2 large bottles back. The Muji outlet back home at JEM carries the product but cost $7 more. My girls bought their usual stationery and my husband went for food – instant matcha latte.
Another irresistible store. Growing up with a mom and aunts who love anything Japanese, classic Sanrio characters like Hello Kitty, My Melody and Little Twin Stars were my regular companions. You may think I would be tired of them by now or too old to like such cutesy stuff. You are wrong. When I stepped into the Hello Kitty Japan store at Tokyo Skytree Town Solamachi, I went ooh and ah. Then at Sanrio Gallery in Shinsaibashi, Osaka, even more ooh and ah. The sheer range of products was unbelievable. I wanted to buy the entire shop but I managed to control myself and got only 2 Osaka exclusive Hello Kitty and My Melody T-shirts. If you intend to buy lots of Sanrio stuff, find a tax free store. Minimum purchase amount is 10,000 yen.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to shopping in Japan. I will have to travel alone if I want to truly explore the numerous malls and shopping streets.