Like any other developed nation, Japan has always been known to be one of the most expensive destinations in the world. Recently, as per a famous travelling website, Business Insider (February, 2020), Japan stands out to be the third most expensive country in Asia and sadly, it is. High cost of living and exorbitant prices of the commodities is something that one may notice and experience once one arrives in this country.And reading more and more about Japan before I actually arrived here, I was literally worried when I thought about the expenses, especially when it came to purchasing of daily necessities and useful household items. Most of the times, especially we as women like to buy those necessities, that comes handy and under a decent budget. And to my surprise, apart from the giant malls and supermarkets where the same items are usually available but at sky-high prices, I bumped into these amazing 100-yen shops known as the ‘Hyaku (means 100) en (means yen) shoppu (means shop) in Japanese. It is even said that travelers who like to visit Eastern Asia somehow makes their way to these shops and ends up becoming obsessed with the amazing items sold inside.
So today, let me pen down my thoughts on this strikingly enchanting massive network of Japanese 100-yen shops and my experience when I first came across them. Japan, at present, accounts for more than 5000 100-yen shops that are mostly located in the major cities either in multi-story department stores or in small corners in big shopping malls. Just like the familiar dollar stores in USA, or the 1-pound stores in UK, based on the concept of availability of variety at highly inexpensive rates, the Japanese 100-yen shops do follow the same model. These 100-yen shops are one-price retail stores that are widely used by the Japanese next to the other stores in Japan. The cost of the items is 100 yen plus the consumption tax which adds up to maximum 110 yen.From an impressive array of cute, neatly designable and affordable items, these shops began with Hirotake Yano, founder of the Daiso Industries. The 100-yen shops in Japan are popularly acclaimed under the chain of Daiso, Seria and Can Do 100-yen shops and out of all, it is Daiso, the largest 100-yen shop with around 3000 outlets so far across the Nation and which now has 25 stores overseas (Source: Internet).
Photo taken at the Naru park Mall, Narumi by AHM
So, what's so interesting about these shops? If one has to get access to everyday items in Japan, it is impossible to rely completely on malls and supermarkets, being unnecessarily expensive and time consuming. And that is where the 100-yen shops suffice at its best being the most popular, super convenient, reliable and that brings an affordable basket of goods. I remember the first time I entered these shops and how madly I was fascinated gazing at the terrific collections that are just precisely meant for day-to-day uses and for household decor. Right from confectioneries to innovative stationeries for children to adult, to items like designer wares to décor, with abundance of handicraft goods to gift wrappers, from kitchenware to designable cute tableware, from gardening to cleaning products, from travel essentials to cosmetics to festive season-based stuffs, everything is just available at 100 yen (plus the consumption tax). If one enters into these shops, no doubt the person will walk out with his arms full. Because, the items are so handy, beautifully designed, and easily available at cheaper rates that one cannot resist buying it. However, recently, there are some items which are also available at a higher price than 100 yen that goes up to a multiple of 2 or 3 of a 100 yen. So, if anyone plans to visit Japan and takes a tour to these wonderful shops, do not forget to check the prices.
Photo taken at the Daiso, Arimatsu Aeon Mall by AHM
The first time I visited was a Daiso 100-yen shop as it was nearby our place and simultaneously being the largest retail, I preferred to visit it first. And if one has to buy a wide range of fascinating convenient products then Daiso is the best option. With the wide range of Japanese cutleries and essential household items, I saw mostly the Japanese wives and ladies crowding the store. While, on weekends even families with children throng along the market as children also loves the space due to the availability of large number of toys and a section of their favorite Japanese cartoon characters. Then I came across a wide range of beautifully handcrafted traditional Japanese items that are usually extremely expensive if you think of purchasing in other tourist places or city malls. However, if one wants to gift something special and really worthy a price, then definitely this is not the right place but as gifts in bulk and as a small token from Japan, 100-yen shops are always the best. Another most striking feature is that the products sold are all designed and made with Japan quality, so one does not have to worry about the quality while paying. Wherein the same items are also seen in other shops where consumers end up paying more and more. This is really interesting and such kind of shops is really needed mainly for tourist to adjust themselves with their budget while visiting such an expensive country. I feel, these 100-yen shops also give a feeling of a Japanese culture with their vivid collections of Japanese traditional items such as incense sticks, Tenugui (Japanese towel), beautifully decorated Sensu (Japanese hand fan), uniquely designed chopsticks and other such hand-made items.
So to say, Japanese 100-yen shops are something we need to know while knowing about Japan for its uniqueness; affordability and effectiveness that is not only loved by tourists but also loved by the Japanese people especially school children, ladies and Japanese wives.
[ Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the Publisher. ]