Department Store Shopping in Japan: The Ultimate Guide
For visitors and residents alike, Japan is a shopping mecca to be enjoyed by young and old shoppers of different tastes and needs. Even in large cities, such as Tokyo, there is a great variety of shops from major department stores to small mom-and-pop stores. Each venue offers a unique assortment of goods for shoppers with a particular item in mind or in need of window shopping.
From major global labels to in-house brands, department stores in Japan carry an impressive array of products. While some department stores are arranged by floor (women’s, men’s, household, etc.), others contain multiple independent shops on each floor. These cooperatives can be found in Shibuya, where people come to shop, eat, and partake in all sorts of entertainment. Well-known department stores, such as Seibu and Parco, often contain supermarkets and gourmet food stands in the basement floors. For visitors who have never seen this section of a department store, it is a highly recommended experience.
As with any shopping experience, it can often be stressful to find particular items or browse freely through the crowded departments. For this reason, we provide you with recommendations for your next shopping trip in Japan.
Best time to shop: Around 1 or 2pm when shoppers are having lunch; right before closing.
Worst time to shop: Early morning, when shops open and customers who have been queuing outside rush in.
Beware!: Older ladies (obaachans) can be pushy, especially in the food department! Mind your manners and everyone wins.
What to bring: Personal belongings that are not bulky or heavy to avoid getting caught in the crowds.
What to expect: Busy stores, excellent customer service, high-pitched “Welcome!” greetings, carefully prepared purchases.
Plan to: Spend more time browsing and closing sales than planned for.
For ladies: You will probably be asked to wear a face cover when trying on clothing to prevent makeup stains.
For men: You may not find your sizes if you are taller, wider, or have bigger feet than the average Japanese man.
We hope these tips help you on your department store adventure!