Frequently Asked Questions about Shopping in Japan
Historic sites, amazing people, natural wonders - Japan offers these among many other reasons for travellers to flock. One more reason people love visiting Japan is – you guessed it – shopping.
Japan has earned the reputation of being the home of some of the world’s leading tech-driven companies. In fact, the country is home to some of the biggest innovative electronics companies that you have probably never even heard of – that’s because the gadgets that you find in Japan, almost all of their stores, you are not going to find them anywhere else in the world.
If you are a lover of all things tech, then, it’s totally worth it to buy gadgets from Japan. While some items may be priced higher than the usual, there are literally many others which are priced almost in the same range as that of our country – and the best part is that since Japan is always the first choice for the release of many tech items and hence, you are bound to find new models of many items that you have back home at India and where it has not even been released yet (and will show only after six or seven months!!)
If you want to be the first person to get your hand on the latest gadget, then, your destination should be Japan!!
What Should I Buy?
There are literally no gadgets that you shouldn’t buy from Japan – but then again, we often have the ‘budget problem’.
Barring that, if you have the budget to spare, then, you should most obviously go for the cameras, followed by laptops, rice cookers, electronic toilet seats, wireless speakers, and headphones.**
When buying gadgets from Japan, there are a few things that you should take note of – first, you should make sure as to whether the appliances that you are about to buy, will work with the voltage requirements of our country. In the case of the laptops and the cameras, we should make sure whether their chargers are compatible with our country’s electric systems.
Another thing to take note of is of the products themselves. If you plan to buy from the physical stores, you should know that most of the gadgets that are sold in Japan (except a few) have Japanese menus – and that can be quite a bummer!! Heads up – you have got nothing to worry; just look out for the ‘Overseas Model’ section in stores – all of the stores have them – and they have English menus.
Are They Tax Free?
There’s another reason to buy gadgets from Japan (from physical stores) – as a traveller, we are foreigners to them, and since it’s Japan we are talking about, they have many products on which consumption tax (it’s similar to GST of our country) is exempted for foreign visitors.
Don’t worry about communicating with Japanese-speaking staff in the store! Most staff in the physical stores speak English, so, you should be able to converse with them with regard to your purchases.
As for the buying of the items from the physical stores, if the products are exempt from tax, the staff at the counter will fill out a government tax-exempt form and will place it in your passport. Remember to safeguard the form till your departure as you will need to show the form and the purchased items at the airport.
How About Saving More?
Since you are already saving lots of money thanks to goods being exempt from consumption tax, do you want to buy a few more?
You can do that, and plus, it comes with savings too – always take your VISA card as they always have deals and discounts running for customers who have a VISA card, and yes, don’t forget to show off your passport too, if asked, as it may lead to additional savings.
Should I Buy Offline or Online?
It doesn’t matter, really. No matter where you buy from – be it online or offline, you are going to find the same products.
Though the only difference lies in the space, from online, you can order them from the comfort of your home, even though you are in India. And offline, of course, you have to be in Japan to buy the products, and you will get the added the advantage of the exemption of tax , plus seeing the product up close!!
10 Cool Gadgets that You can Buy in Japan and Which You Will Want to Use Everyday
Trene Anti-Theft Monitoring Alarm
Are you worried that your laptop will get stolen when left unattended?
If your answer is a resounding ‘yes’, then you should opt for this neat little gadget. Brought to you by the exclusive store Japan Trend Only, this gadget is ideal for anyone who works in coffee shops or co-working spaces.
This gadget, when placed atop the laptop, will monitor the laptop for you and will detect any unwanted movement for you, though, you will have to take your phone with you. That’s because this gadget works in sync with an app. So, should the gadget detects any unwanted movement, an alarm will go off and the ring on the gadget’s top will turn to red, which will only convert back to green when you and your phone will reach near the laptop.
The best part about this gadget is that it can be made to work with any valuables and not only with a laptop. Priced at $106 (Rs. 7,420), this gadget is sized at 40 x 29mm. It comes enabled with Bluetooth and is powered by lithium-ion polymer battery, and hence, it can run on 20 hours at one go, with only 2 hours needed to charge the gadget.
iRobot 900 Series
How would you like it if someone else would have vacuumed the floor for you?
Well, it’s not a pipe dream anymore.
Enter ‘iRobot 900’ – it’s a robotic vacuum cleaner for you that can be found only in Japan. Priced at 75,470 yen (Rs. 47,485), this gadget will vacuum the floors of your home. Powered by WiFi, you can control this gadget with your voice, though you have to take the help of an app, with which you have to sync the gadget to your voice.
Weighing only 3.9 kg, this gadget can run up to 3 hours at one go and having powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the recharging takes only two to three hours.
And you know what’s the best thing about this gadget – should the gadget ever run low on battery, it will automatically return to its charging base by itself to get charged and then, continue on its job after recharging!!
Want to have this gadget for yourself? Head off to the official Japanese store of iRobot
Moomin Compact Hot Plate
Want to know what’s one of the most popular products of Japan?
That would be this gadget - Moomin Compact Hot Plate. Looking less of a gadget and more of a showpiece that can adorn the drawing-room, this gadget works like an oven.
It comes with a ceramic pot, a basic flat-plate for heating, and a takoyaki pan. Clearly a masterpiece of the brand ‘BRUNO’, this beautiful gadget can bake mini pancakes for you, as well as reheat them, if you so want, hence, the flat-plate. That said, you can also add other additional pans such as multi pan, ceramic pan, and grill pan.
Priced at 47,485 yen (Rs. 10,193 ), this gadget can be found only at the Idea Online Shop from Japan.
How long have we gals wished for a product that can remove the dirt and sebum from our face on the go?
Enter ‘HadaCrie’ – created by the renowned brand ‘Hitachi’, this gadget can help you clean the dirt and sebum from your face. All you need to do is to power up the gadget and let the thermal head touch that area on your face which has gathered dirt, say, the T-zone, chin area or even the cheeks.
Every 45 seconds, a beep will emanate from the device which means you can remove the device’s head from that area (and move on to the next area – the beeping time differs though, based on how much dirt have accumulated on the area)
This gadget is literally cordless (meaning it runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery) and can run seven times after it’s fully recharged for 1.5 hours.
Priced at 41,560 yen (Rs. 26,188), this gadget can be found exclusively on the official Japanese store of Hitachi.
Water Oven Helcio AX-XW600
Doesn’t re-heating the foods simply takes up time?
Opt for the gadget ‘Water Oven’ – brought to you by the brand ‘HelSio’, this gadget can reheat your prepared foods as well as make them crunchy (if you want, that is) with no oil. And yes, it can even cook your food – no matter whether they were frozen, or refrigerated – with precision.
That said, this gadget runs with AI and come equipped with ‘Cocoro Kitchen’, and which means, you can operate the gadget with only your voice!!
Priced at 25,326 yen (Rs. 15,958), this gadget can be found on the official Japanese store of the brand HelSio.
Panasonic Deodorizing Clothes Hanger
It’s your cousin’s marriage party, and just when you thought that you will wear your favourite coat to the party – you notice it, a weird smell coming from the coat. Now, you wouldn’t want to wear that to the party, right?
Enter ‘Panasonic Deodorizing Clothes Hanger’.
Looking just like any other hanger, it’s functions, however, are quite different from that of the usual hanger that you use to hang clothes. Just in case, if you are wondering, how this hanger works to your benefit, here’s how – you need to hang your smelly coat on the hanger, and press the button, and voila – this hanger will remove the smell from the coat.
The hanger performs this function by releasing negatively charged particles which collect moisture from the air over the course of six to seven hours, depending on what cleaning mode you opt for. That said, this hanger also can remove pollen from your clothes, which is a must if you are allergic.
This gadget, created by Panasonic, is priced at $344 (Rs. 24,080) and can be found exclusively on the ‘Japan Trend Shop’.
Mezamashi Vibrating Alarm Earphones
Priced at $101 (Rs. 7,070) at the Japan Trend Shop, this gadget is brought to you by King Jim and works both as an earphone and an alarm clock.
This gadget, as mentioned, works like an earphone, with which you can hear your favorite songs or even listen to a podcast, but get this – you can program the earphone to set an alarm at a certain time, and it will go off that time, if you happen to doze off or get too engrossed in listening to your songs.
And the best part is that the alarm can be set in two modes – alarm and timer, and if you happen to set the alarm, it will be heard only by you.
Cooling and Heating All-in-One Backpack
As a traveler, it’s just not possible to carry a table fan on our back, no matter how big our backpack can turn out to be.
How about you go for this neat gadget cum backpack?
Brought to you by ‘Thanko’, this backpack features a fan that can cool your back during the summer. Similarly, it also has a heater that can keep you warm during the winters. As if that’s not enough, this backpack comes with an integrated USB port with which you can charge your gadgets while you are on the go.
This gadget cum backpack is priced at $128 (Rs. 8,960)and can be found exclusively in the Japan Trend Shop.
Yamazen Electric Futon Dryer
Humidity is a big problem in many countries, and one such country is Japan, and that means it’s bad business for the bedding.
In Japan, the bedding is made of mattress and comforter that is stuffed with cotton, and during humid seasons, they can grow mold quite easily. It is, for this reason, that gadget such as ‘futon dryer’ exists.
Isn’t our country the same?
Our beds too can get damp and lead to the growth of mold – so, why not use this gadget?
To use this gadget, you will need to add the futon nozzles, place them on the bed, and set the timer and mode – the gadget will take care of the rest!!
This gadget is priced at $147 (Rs. 10,290) at Japan Trend Shop.
Qrio Smart Lock
If you are the type to go forgetting about your keys, then, this gadget ‘Qrio Smart Lock’ is the best choice for you.
Efficient and practical, this gadget can be attached upon the keyhole of any door – it only takes five minutes – and upon setting up with an app, a digital key will be sent to you and which you can share with your family and friends. This gadget also runs on Bluetooth, so, it makes a neat choice for those who live in areas with low reception.
This gadget is priced at $313 (Rs. 21,910), and can be found exclusively on Japan Trend Shop.
Some Shopping Etiquettes to Take Note of While Buying Gadgets in Japan
The Japanese are well known for their strong adherence to rules, so, if you are in Japan, and plan to buy products from their physical stores, there are a certain set of rules that you should follow.
Lining Up in a Queue
If you have landed in Japan, then, you should know that you have to line up for doing almost anything – right from getting on a train to entering a lift, and even when buying from stalls, you are expected to get in line; and under no conditions, should you try to make one yourself if there is already a line in front of you.
Failure to get in a queue is looked upon quite strictly in Japan and is considered a serious violation of social etiquette in the country.
Preparing Your Cash First
So, you have queued for your turn? Well, then, what should you do next?
Well, if you have got in line, then, you are expected to prepare your money before your turn comes up to pay – no matter how small the amount is. Or else, both the staff at the counter and the people behind you will have to wait for you – it’s much more convenient that way, both for you and for others.
Similarly, if you plan to buy items from a roadside stall, always ask the price first (and never when the hawker is handling your item) and then, prepare your amount when the hawker is readying your item and pay the amount after the product is handed over to you.
Putting the Coins in the Tray (and Not in the Hand of the Cashier!)
Do you know that money worth below 1000 yen (Rs. 629) in Japan are only available in coins? It is, for this reason, you will see many people paying for things in coins.
It is for this reason that coin trays are introduced and you will see them at all of the physical stores in Japan, including the roadside stalls. Of course, if you are going to put the coins on the flat surface, it will get hard to pick them up, so, special trays known as ‘coin trays’ are introduced, which have a rubbery hair lining on the inside – put coins on them and it will become easier to pick them up.
Even though it’s not exactly important to follow this rule, but still, you know the English saying – when in Rome, do as the Romans do. It’s the sign of civilized traveler to follow the norms of a country that you are visiting – plus, it gives off a sign of respect.
Letting the Cashier Handle the Change
When buying products and handing off to the counter for the usual, the cashier, if they have the change that they need to hand it to you, they will do so – by counting the change right in front of you. This is to make sure that the change which will be given to you is accurate, and secondly, you don’t have to do the same when the change is handed to you.
So, always make sure to focus your eyes on the cashier when they are counting the change, and don’t ever recount the change after it’s handed to you – it will show that you don’t trust the cashier, and is a sign of disrespect.
Add Some State-of-the-art Japanese Gadgets to Your Collection in 2019
Whether you plan to buy them offline, or online, Japanese gadgets are one of a kind because of their unique features and capabilities. Buy yourself one this year and get your tasks done easier!