There are many different types of shops and shopping areas in Japan. The following are some of the most common types that travelers will encounter.
Found in all major Japanese cities, department stores are known for carrying higher quality products and pride themselves on providing their customers with a high level of service. Accordingly their prices tend to be more expensive. The food section in the basement of department stores are a sight worth calling a tourist attraction, while the stores’ restaurant floors are convenient place for tourists to select from a variety of moderately priced dining options.
Electronics chains such as Yodobashi Camera, Bic Camera and Yamada Denki, carry all manner of electronics such as computers, cameras, cell phones, stereos, home appliances, toys, movies, games, gadget and accessories. Many of the chains operate mega stores around major train stations. Some areas known for their electronic stores include Tokyo’s Akihabara, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro districts, as well as Osaka’s Den Den Town.
100 Yen Shops
100 yen shops sell a wide range of products for just 108 yen per item (100 yen plus 8 percent consumption tax), making then a great place to shop for travelers and residents on a budget. There are several 100 yen store chains found all across Japan.
Over 40,000 convenience stores, known as konbini, can be found across Japan. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, convenience stores offer food, beverages, essential household goods and a wide range of services, such as ATMs, shipping and ticket services, which make Japanese convenience stores truly convenient.
Shopping malls are found both in the large cities and in the countryside. Malls tend to be dominated by clothing stores and usually include restaurant floors or food courts, movies theaters and videogame arcades.
Found in virtually all medium and large cities, shopping arcades tend to be older, nostalgic shopping streets made up of dozens of small to medium sized stores and restaurants. Many of them are covered. Osaka, Sendai and Takamatsu have some of the country’s longest arcades.
Underground malls are commonly found around and below major railway stations in large cities where space is a premium. In some cases, multiple underground malls are interconnected, creating huge underground networks. Not surprisingly, Tokyo and Osaka have some of the most extensive underground malls.
Temple and Shrine Approaches
The approaches to popular temples and shrines are traditionally lined by shops and restaurants catering to the passing pilgrims and tourists. Some particularly lively ones are the Nakamise at Tokyo’s Sensoji Temple and the approach to Kyoto’s Kiyomizudera Temple.
Public markets are packed with vendors and restaurants selling all manner of fresh fish, vegetables, meat and prepared foods. Often serving both restaurants and the public, they tend to open and close earlier than other shopping districts, but are a fun way to explore the culinary side of Japan. Famous markets include Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market, Kyoto’s Nishiki Market, Kanazawa’s Omicho Market and Hakodate’s Morning Market.
If flea markets are your thing, then Japan has some excellent ones that are worth checking out. Here you will find all types of new and used art, crafts, clothing, traditional goods, antiques, food, jewelry, tools and weapons. Some of the best are held at Kyoto’s Toji Temple and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, as well as at Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu Gaien and Yoyogi Park.
Typically found in the outskirts of large cities, around airports and along expressways, outlet malls are popular with those looking for a deal on brand name goods. While the prices may be better than at regular retail shops, be aware that the bargains and discounts may not be as deep as you might expect at an outlet shop. Regardless, outlet malls are a fun activity for those who enjoy shopping. One of the largest and most popular outlet malls is the Gotemba Premium Outlets.