The Distinctness of 100 yen shops
You have a preconceived notion that things in Japan are expensive, don’t you? The industry known as “100 yen shops” will destroy that bias. So what is a 100 yen shop? It’s generally a small store selling most goods at 100 yen an item, excluding tax. Miscellaneous goods, tableware/cookware, processed food, makeup accessories, consumer electronic accessories, and stationeries are among the plethora of goods commonly sold at these shops. You must be thinking it’s cheap and therefore low in quality, on the contrary, the design and quality are not bad at all. It’s a selection of goods that you just can’t normally buy at 100 yen. You will be mind blown with “this only costs 100 yen?!” and start reaching for the items left and right, looking around with giddiness. Foreigners packing their baskets full with items and shouting “it’s so cheap!” And “oh my gosh!” is a spectacle often observed.
The big 4 above combine for a total 5,500 shops in Japan. You will encounter one of these shops simply walking around, they are everywhere and there could be one near you too. Check out each of the shop’s website to find the exact location of stores.
If you're going to buy something buy this!
Good quality, and well designed for a 100 yen price tag “steals” are the beauty of 100 yen shops, yet don’t fall into the trap of thinking “wow everything is so cheap!” Somethings are not a bargain. Don’t make the mistake of buying goods that aren’t worth 100 yen and later regretting it with, “oh no, why did I buy this!” or finding out that an item costs less at a supermarket! So what should you buy? Here we will introduce a selection of goods often bought and raved by Japanese people, items that have a bad reputation, and items that we recommend you check.
① Storage Space Items:
① Storage Space Items:
When it comes to products adored by Japanese shoppers nothing comes close to space saving goods that help organize. You’ll find a plentiful variety of storage items from plastic, metal, wood materials to box-shaped cases, small racks, trays, bags, etc.
Many people find the plastic baskets particularly useful and a great way to stock food ingredients, sort kitchenware, and organize their closet. However, dig a little deeper and you’ll find plastic vacuum bags for clothing, recommended for travelers such as yourself who will be traveling to Japan or currently traveling.
Put your clothes in the plastic vacuum pack, close it with the fastener. Then, along the fastener side of the case, press down with your hand the air will escape and your clothes will be flattened. Quite the innovation.
If you’re worried about wrinkling clothes or decide to put your down jacket in, don’t press down on the case too hard. The case is perfect for providing extra room to store even more presents, but they also come in a wide variety of sizes. There are of course ones with fasteners on them, and passport to magazine sizes to make it easy to organize your things no matter how small or big.
Visit your nearest large-scale 100 yen store and you should find it there.
② Small electrical appliances:
Don’t be shocked that USB ports, chargers for smartphones, earphones, etc are also sold. Of course these items are inferior to those found at electronic shops, but you never know when one might come in handy, or perhaps as a back up. In any case, it’ll serve its purpose and therefore a good purchase.
③ Kitchenware items:
Glassware, cups, plates, bowls, cutlery items, and most other kitchenware goods can be found. You will absolutely believe that the things in front of you, particularly the large variety of glass and porcelain items are worth more than 100 yen, but there they are, not to mention Japanese people love glass and plain white kitchenware items. Japanese-style chopsticks, bowls for miso soup, rice bowls, and even Japanese style cups for green tea are sold - all of which make great presents as well.
Items NOT Recommended:
① Packaged Food:
Receiving the most unfavorable votes among shoppers are packaged food. The following are some of the reasons why:
The packaged foods lack volume considering the price; taste and flavor fall short of household brands; some items are found to be cheaper at supermarkets - for example, a 500ml drink that goes for 150 yen at a vending machine might convince you that a similar or same drink sold at 100 yen at the 100 yen shop is a bargain deal. However, find that same drink at a supermarket and you could find it below 100 yen (around 88 yen or 98 yen if on sale). If small quantity of packaged food for 1 person is what you are searching for a convenience store is your best bet; there you can buy private label or brand products that taste better and cheaper.
The reputation of stationary from 100 yen shops is poor mostly due to the low quality. Voiced concerns include but not limited to ink from pens not running smoothly after purchase and no longer usable to weakness of adhesive clear tape.
It’s in your best interest to buy branded products of better quality for a slightly higher cost, and they are available everywhere (supermarkets to convenience stores).
Avoid spending money on 100 yen batteries. Depending on which product you are using the batteries for they can be drained faster than more established brands, even worse they cannot be used at all. Some even claimed to have experienced battery leakage, which could ultimately damage the device you are using it for.
If you must buy batteries go with the more expensive and recognized brands. Big box electronic retailers sell batteries in all shapes and sizes. Though you won’t have as much variety, supermarkets and convenience stores also sell batteries.
Interesting and Convenient Goods:
100 yen shops are plentiful in goods that make life easier and are fun to look at; some are even featured in TV shows. Here, we will introduce a few that have been presented on TV, but you might not find them at all 100 yen shops. Have a look if you are near a 100 yen shop and you may well end up saying “this is so cool! I need one,” and buy them, but remember, it’s only 100 yen!
① Corn Cutter: Press this device against the ear of a corn and corn comes off, just like that. No need to use your hands or a knife, a very convenient apparatus.
② Lemon Juicer: Twist the screw in at the bottom of a lemon and direct the screw to the area you want to squeeze the lemon juice to and just squeeze. The idea is that now you have a small lemon fruit juice-like bottle.
③ Sack cap: A cap to help preserve or store goods that come in bags or sacks, for example, a bag of flour. The device was designed to use the original packaging to store the content inside more effectively. All you have to do is cut the top end of the bag and add the cap to it. Open the cap and pour whatever content is inside into a cup or bowl. No need to use a spoon or a cup.
④ Pasta Cap: This product is a cap for pasta bags that are once opened.
⑤ Handy Sealer: This cool gadget is used for packages like potato chip bags when it’s been opened once and you want to seal the bag for later consumption. This item is usually sold between 500 yen~1,000 yen, but it’s available for 100 yen at 100 yen shops, therefore one of the popular items on sale.
⑥ Jacket Hanger: If you mostly use your dryer to dry your clothes then you don’t need to know about this product. When drying your hoodies after washing, the hood is slow to dry, but this hoodie hanger has a part that helps prop up the hood so that the hood part will dry as fast as the rest.
Watch out!! Not All Items are 100 Yen
Depending on the store, products can be priced at 200 yen, 300 yen, 500 yen or more, not to mention they could be mixed in with the 100 yen items. Be sure to check the price tag reads 100 yen (items not 100 yen often have a different color tag).
A Short List of 100 yen Shops in Tokyo and Surrounding Areas
Shopping at the larger 100 yen retailers are best. You will most likely be overwhelmed by the scale and number of goods in store. Mid-sized shops also offer plenty of goods. The smaller shops carry less items but sometimes have better quality products and are better in ways that larger stores cannot compete. Even if you are just looking, staff will not hassle you, and if you find something you like, just buy it. Enter any shop with ease.
※The scale of each big-box 100 yen shop will depend on the 100 yen company. Shops over 3,300m² will be labeled “large”, 660m²〜3,300m² as “medium or mid-sized”, and less than 600m² as “small.”[caption id="attachment_13784" align="aligncenter" width="2592"] 100 yen Shop Daiso[/caption]
Daiso, being the largest global retailer of its kind, is the Japanese symbol of 100 yen shops. More than 2,000 stores are spread across the country, most being large-scale in size.
One cannot help but to recognize the behemoth of a shop with 1 billion countable items in stock. The shop is also known for continuing to sell new items in their stores.
Shop size: Large
Access: Kinshicho station- 5 min walk from JR Sobu line. To Kinshicho station-About a 15min. train ride from JR Tokyo station; 5 min. train ride from Ryogoku station (nearest station to Edo-Tokyo Museum); 5 min. train ride from Oshiage station (nearest station to Tokyo SkyTree).
Address: 2-2-1 Kinshi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo [Arcakit Kinshicho store 7F]
Items carried: Storage items, Kitchen goods, cleaning and laundry material, bath and toiletry, interior goods, leisure items, batteries, small electronics, tools, clothes, decorations, small beauty products, health gadgets and food, caregiving supplies, gardening goods, decorative plants, pet products, fishing tools, car and bicycle related goods, stationery, toys, handcrafts, food, etc.
※200 yen items are sold as well. (Keep in mind goods sold at the store tend to change by season and therefore the above mentioned items may not be available any longer.) Features: Arcakit Kinshicho shop holds about 3,300 square meters of space (35,520 sq.ft.) making it the largest Daiso shop in Tokyo. Not only do they sell sundries and food items, but also goods for pets, small beauty products, houseplants and even fishing goods. The wide variety of products available is what makes shopping here appealing. It is recommended to stop by this 100 yen shop when visiting Tokyo Skytree or the Edo-Tokyo Museum.
Shop size: Large
Access: 5 min. walk from Keisei-Funabashi station [Trains: Keisei Railway]
※ 30 min. from Asakusa station by train 10 min. walk from Funabashi station [Trains: JR Sobu line]
※ About 30 min. from Tokyo station by train
※ Keisei-Funabashi station is the nearest station, however, access from the city is best and not so many transfers to Funabashi station.
Address: 1-6-3 Honcho, Funabashi-shi, Chiba [Giga Funabashi shop 6F]
・Items carried: Storage items, Kitchen goods, cleaning and laundry material, bath and toiletry, interior goods, leisure items, batteries, small electronics, tools, clothes, decorations, small beauty products, health gadgets and food, caregiving supplies, gardening goods, decorative plants, pet products, fishing tools, car and bicycle related goods, stationery, toys, handcrafts, food, etc.
※200 yen items are also sold with 100 yen goods. (Keep in mind goods sold at the store tend to change by season and therefore the above mentioned items may not be available any longer.)
・Features: Daiso Giga Funabashi shop is the largest 100 yen shop in Japan. From the basement floor to the 6th floor, the fact that the entire facility is Daiso is crazy. The store covers about 6,600m², destroying other 100 yen shops (and 2 times the size of the largest 100 yen shop in Tokyo, Arcakit Kinshico.) No other 100 yen shop can compete in the variety of goods sold or the stock. It’s no exaggeration that you can just about buy any Daiso 100 yen product here. Having said that, the access to the store is a little inconvenient. From Tokyo the access to Keisei Funabashi station is not very good and it is necessary to walk a bit from the station. It’s also worth noting that it may not be worth traveling 30 min. out of the city just to visit a 100 yen shop. It’s a different story if there is something you want to see or do in Chiba. Now if you are a huge 100 yen shop fan, it’s a must visit attraction. For more information on locations other than the Arcakit Kinshicho shop and the Giga Funabashi shop, check out their website: http://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/shop/index.php[caption id="attachment_13780" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photo Credit: thatstrish.wordpress.com 100 yen shop Seria[/caption]
Seria shops have wide aisles and are spacious, a far cry from the 100 yen shops that are usually messy or disorganized. Customers can take their time and enjoy the shopping experience, a characteristic of Seria shops. About 20,000 items are narrowed down and only good products are selected, giving the stores positive reviews by women. The company is leading the industry in shaping “fashionable 100 yen shopping,” and has grown to No.2 in the industry with now over 1,000 shops in Japan.
Shop size: Small
Access: 3 min. walk from Shibuya station Hachiko Exit [Trains: JR Yamanote, Saikyo, Shonan-Shinjuku lines] 3 min. walk from Hachiko Exit via Tokyo Metro Ginza line 2 min. walk from Exit 7 via Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line.
※ Hanzomon line is connected to the Tokyu Denentoshi line at Shibuya station. 4 min. walk from Exit 10 via Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin line.
※ Fukutoshin line is connected to the Tokyu Toyoko line at Shibuya station. 4 min. walk from Avenue Exit 7 via Keio Inokashira line.
※ Shibuya station is huge with many exit gates. It’s complex and confusing so be careful.
Address: 1-22-6 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo [Marui Jam Shibuya 7F]
Open: 11:00～21:00 (Sun/Holidays 11:00～20:30)
Closed: irregular (usually open) same as Marui Jam Shibuya (closed irregularly)
・Items carried: Tableware, Kitchen goods, Storage items, cleaning and laundry material, bath and toiletry, interior goods, small beauty products, small clothing, decorations, stationery, batteries, small electronics, gardening goods, artificial flowers, pet products, leisure items, character goods, etc. (Keep in mind goods sold at the store tend to change by season and therefore the above mentioned items may not be available any longer.)
※ All 100 yen
・Features: Marui Jam Shibuya shop is located in a commercial business building that sells clothing and accessories to young female adults. First off, the entire interior is fashionable and has a relaxing atmosphere to it. As a 100 yen shop, they carry the usual items, but there is a heavy emphasis placed on general lifestyle goods. There is a great selection of well designed items that have practical use. Especially noticeable is how goods are lined up in the cookware section. They are organized in way that is convenient for the shopper. You can’t skip the small interior goods made of wood and iron. You have to check this store out if you are going to Shibuya, the cutting edge fashion district for young people. Aside from Marui Jam Shibuya Shop, other Seria that exist in the Tokyo area are:
Stop by these shops when sightseeing or shopping around these towns. Other Seria 100 yen shops not mentioned above can be found on the website below.
Can Do is famous for putting effort into food and daily sundries. The shop also places emphasis on fashionable products which are popular among females. Therefore, it is well known that Seria and Can Do battle it out for the fashionable 100 yen shop title. In Japan there are over 800 shops and over 30,000 items are in stock.
Shop size: Medium
Access: 10 min. walk from Shinjuku station East Exit [Trains: JR Sobu, Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Saikyo lines] 5 min. walk from Seibu-Shinjuku station [Trains: Seibu Railways].
※ It’s easy to get lost in Shinjuku station so beware. Let’s remember that this shop is near Seibu-Shinjuku station. From Shinjuku station, however, take the East exit and walk along the train tracks up the slow inclining road all the way.
Address: 1-30-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo [Seibu Shinjuku Pepe 8F]
Closed: N/A (depending on Seibu Shinjuku Pepe building)
・Items Carried: Tableware, Storage items, Kitchen goods, cleaning and laundry material, bath and toiletry, interior goods, small beauty products, stationery, small clothing, batteries, small electronics, gardening goods,tools, food, health foods, etc. (Keep in mind goods sold at the store tend to change by season and therefore the above mentioned items may not be available any longer.)
※200 yen items are sold as well. (since Jan. 2014)
・Features: Seibu Shinjuku Pepe shop is the largest of Can Do 100 yen shops in Tokyo. It’s smaller than the Daiso Arcakit Kinshicho shop, however as the “new brand” for Can Do, the shop was renovated last year and abundant in new and cool items. The store itself is well lit and has a good atmosphere to it. You can’t ignore it’s location either. Due to its location in Shinjuku, a rich area for shopping, it’s easy to access - an additional benefit. Stop by the shop when visiting the electronic shops in Shinjuku or the department stores. Check out Can Do’s entire 100 yen shop collection online: http://www.cando-web.co.jp/shopinfo/[caption id="attachment_13781" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Photo Credit: arao-citymall.com 100 yen shop Watts[/caption]
Under the name of “Meets Silk” the 100 yen shop operates over 900 small scale store in shopping centers across the country. The small shops are modest in design with little money spent on the exterior and interior. Though the number of items kept is around 6,000~7,000, small in comparison, the shop’s strength is its emphasis on products that are everyday necessities. The shops don’t stand out much and a bit small, yet doesn’t feel congested. Having said that, the number of customers that have come to favorite this shop for its quality products, and without knowing the brand “silk” and “meets,” is not small. I hesitate to recommend which 100 yen Watts shop is best. Why? Because management at Watts tries to spend as little as possible on exterior and interior decor, so when shops underperform, the cost to close down the shop and move out is low. At least that’s what they say. So, that’s why I hesitate to suggest any Watts shop. It could suddenly be gone by the time you go there. All Watts stores are of the same size and carry the same goods, so check out their homepage and check which shops are near places you might be near. Visit the shop casually without any expectations, and you just might buy lots of cool things. Think of it as a treasure hunt. Check out Watts’ 100 yen shop online with the below link.
To give you an idea of their stores, let me introduce their shop in Shinjuku.
Shop size: Small
Access: 2 min. walk from Shinjuku station Chuo Exit [Trains: JR Sobu, Chuo, Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Saikyo lines]
※ Chuo Exit at Shinjuku station is near the East Exit (東口). After exiting the Central East Exit ticket gate (underground) of Shinjuku station, go through the connected shopping street LUMINE (ルミネ) and go up to street level.
Address: 3-26-2 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo [Sanpei chuo bldg. 1F]
Closed: irregular (almost never closed)
Items carried: Storage items, tableware, kitchen goods, cleaning and laundry material, bath and toiletry, leisure items, car related items, stationery, batteries, small electronics, food, etc. (Keep in mind goods sold at the store tend to change by season and therefore the above mentioned items may not be available any longer).
※All items 100 yen.
Features: Silk Shinjuku central shop is near “Bicqlo” - a collaboration shop with the big box electronics retailer Bic Camera and the casual apparel shop uniqlo. The shop lies in a quiet spot in town between “Bicqlo” and JR Shinjuku station central exit where the street is lined with restaurants and smaller clothing shops. The store doesn’t stand out at all, and no joke, you will not even notice it even if you are trying to find it. Having said that, everything in the store is well-organized so it’s easy to find what you are looking for. Having a look around the shop will only take a few minutes as well. To be honest, this store is more like a shop you stumble upon in an urgent situation that doesn't require quality products, "this will do the trick,"and you're in and out quick.