Japan Shopping Tips by Maline
Japan Shopping: 82 reviews and 94 photos
Books books books
The Maruzen megabookstore in Marunouchi Tokyo opened just this september (2004). It is I don't remember how many floors (9?) of books and stationary, all you can wish for. For foreigners there is also a huge selection of english books as well as some in other languages. Particularly fun if you want books on Japanese society, culture, cooking etc.
Stack up here. Not too expensive either.
What to buy: Go for the titles you will find it more difficult to get your hands on in your home country. In today's world with internet shopping availabilities, the selection from home is of course much wider. However, the Japanese bookstores often don't offer their services abroad.
There is a range of small and cheap handbooks on Japan called "Japan in your pocket". Even if some are hopelessly outdated (from the 1980's), and even if they are sometimes a bit over-pedagogic "elderly people can often feel lonely when they live far away from their children and grandchildren" (duh!) they still offer some insights and facs about many parts of Japanese life and society, history and culture. They are prized about 900 yen each, and could make for a nice souvenir for you or your friends at home.
What to pay: From a small paperback book of about 700 yen to as much as you like!
Directions: Tokyo Station, ask for Marunouchi, it is just a two minute walk from the station if you get out the right exit.
What to buy: Ok, now this lacquerware "nurimono" in Japanese, is actually not my kind of cup of tea you know. But I know that many people really like it.
Nurimono is usually black (but can be red or even colorless), and made up of wood with special lacquer on it. This is put on in many many layers, hence fancy nurimono is really pricey.
The classic one is black with a design of gold and maybe other colors within the lacquer. To me it looks a bit too perfect, like it were made of plastic, and I am more a fan of the rustic style ceramics (see other shopping tip), but many people appreciate the skillful craft and sleak designs.
For a look at nurimono, check out the link below.
You can buy it at many places including souvenir shops although I suspect the quality isn't the highest here. Also, in department stores you can get your hands on really expensive nurimono. Antiques stores may also be of interest.
What to pay: I can vaguelly remember reasonably priced items from around 800 yean for a small box, but these may have been of really poor quality.
Theme: Local Craft
So, what's the deal here? You hear about these department stores all the time, yet what are they, and WHERE are they?
There is actually a great number of department stores in Japan.
They consist of several storeys of shopping goods, typically the ground floor is devoted to perfumes and make-up, the floors above to women's fashion and maybe kid's fashion, then there is a floor of men's clothes followed by floors of stationery,home goods, textiles, and at the top floor maybe a bridal shop and a kimono fitter's.
Famous store chains are:
and many more
One chain has several stores, often a few even in only Tokyo, often they are located within the station buildings of train stations, (eg Daimaru in the Tokyo station building, Isetan in the Kyoto station building or Takashimaya in the Kashiwa station building).
In Tokyo you can also find a concentration of department stores in the Ginza neighbourhood (Ginza subway st. or Yúrakuchó train station).
Generally department stores a a little on the expensive side (and let's hope the quality matches).
But it may be just the place for you if you are in search of a new mascara or some little outfit for the evening. Even if you want a silver ballpen and a croco filofax to spice up your life with.
Or if you are just interested in browsing, it is a great time-killer!
What to buy: Special items to shop for in department stores would perhaps be make up and clothes. They seem to have the widest range.
What to pay: Expect to spend someaht more than you would in a smaller shop down the street. But you will get your purchase wrapped and taped at least twice!
Directions: Ginza area, or search around the train stations.
What to buy: Perfect gifts they are, these little eating tools of Asia.
In Japan they are called "hashi" and they are for sale absolutely anywhere.
Prized anywhere from 100 yen and up, and in all imaginable designs and materials, you should be able to find just the perfect pair. And conveniently small and easy to pack they are, as I said, a great gift for the loved ones at home.
For a fancy approach, try the department store; they carry gift boxes with chopsticks.
For a chepscate getaway; try the 100 yen shops for plastic hashis with colorful prints.
What to pay: 100 yen and up...up...up!
A bowl of cakes for tea ceremony
What to buy: One of the best souvenirs from Japan must be ceramics.
There are a number of styles.
Many have interesting glazing, partly unglazed, partly glazed with thick layers seemingly randomly and carelessly spread over the surface.
This style is often quite "rustic", and there are also more "delicate" styles looking a bit more like chinese style ceramics.
rice bowls (bowl in Japanese is "o-chawan"),
plates in different styles, often square ones (plate is "o-sara" in Japanese),
smaller bowls meant for pickles, soy sauce and the likes,
chopstick supporters (hashioki in Japanese),
saké cups and saké bottles.
What to pay: Ceramics are for sale everywhere, from the 100 yen shop, or your corner shop, to the department stores. You can pay anything between 100 yen up to tens of thousands of yen a piece.
An average quality rice bowl should be available at 400-500 yen.
Directions: A good place for ceramics is the Kiyomizu area in Kyoto, but you can check out stores everywhere.
Theme: Local Craft
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