25 Things to Buy in Japan that are Affordable & Loved by Locals

 

What do we buy in Japan? Today, I’m going to share 25 things to buy in Japan that appeal to both locals and tourists alike. Yes, we are going to skip the touristy souvenirs – those that are so steeply marked-up that locals would shun.

So, come take a look and check out the practical and functional stuff that I bought from Japan. I’ve grouped them into product categories so that you can browse through easily and decide what to add to your Japan Must-Buy list

Let’s start with Japan beauty products, shall we? :)

25 Things to buy in Japan

 


Japan Cosmetics & Skincare

1. Double Eyelid Tape

I’ve bought a few packs of double eyelid tape from Daiso and found them to adhere well and last the entire day. Each pack is only 100 yen, which is 40% cheaper than if you get it in Singapore. 

Over in Japan, you’ll get a good variants of eyelid tapes to choose from, from length and width difference to the method of application. 

TIP: When shopping for double eyelid tapes, I made sure I purchased only those that are made in Japan. 

Japan Double eyelid tape
‘Made in Japan’ indicated on top right of packaging

2. Collagen Supplement

Japan is a good place to load up on collagen supplements. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the large number of brands offering this beauty supplement, including Meiji, DHC and Shiseido.

As for me, I grabbed a Meiji Amino Collagen refill pack at about ¥1550 (tax-free). This is half the price as compared to those retailing in Singapore.

> RELATED: Review of Meiji Amino Collagen – does collagen powder really work? 

Japan Collagen Powder
Meiji Amino Collagen refill pack

3. Japan-made Sunscreen

I’ll always get at least half a dozen bottles of sunscreen whenever I visit Japan. These Japan-made sunscreen are of great quality and reasonably-priced. You’ll likely pay just half the price in Japan than in Singapore.

Some brands that I’ve used include Suncut, Biore and SaraFit.

> RELATED: Is Suncut Super Waterproof UV Protect Gel really waterproof?

Suncut Super Waterproof UV Protect Gel
One of the sunscreens I’ve purchased from Japan

4. Top 30+ Japan Beauty Products

Many of you who have followed me for long would know my love for Japanese beauty products. Since 2014, I have reviewed over 50 of them on this blog, out of which, about 30 turned out great!

If I list these 30+ products here, you won’t get to the next section. So here’s a downloadable list of the Top 30+ Japan Beauty Must-Haves.

What to buy in Japan
Some facial cleansers that I’ve gotten in Japan

 


What Grocery Items to buy in Japan?

5. Japan Snacks

Japan snacks are of good quality, both in taste and packaging. Some favorites of mine include:

a) Rice crackers with mixed nuts

Each pack (see bottom image) cost between ¥200 to ¥300 and contains around 6 mini packs. You can choose from different mix of flavors and nuts.

What to buy in Japan
Rice Crackers with mixed nuts

b) Almond Flakes with Ikan Bilis (Anchovy) 

This is another favorite Japanese snack of mine – Almond Flakes with Anchovy. I bought the smaller container when I was touring Okinawa and Osaka.

Must-Read:

What to buy in Japan
Almond Flake with Small Fish

When my trip came to an end, I grabbed hold of this huge packet when I saw it selling at Don Quijote for around ¥1000.

Things to buy in Japan
Large packet of Almond Flakes with Anchovy

Others that I’ve tried include shrimp and anchovy snacks, vinegar octopus and soy nuts. 

What to buy in Japan
Japan Tidbits (Clockwise: Shrimp crackers, Anchovy crackers, Soybean nuts, Vinegar Octopus)

You can also bring home dried cuttlefish in the form of MONEY! One million yen, okay? LOL!

Things to buy in Japan
This one million yen cuttlefish costs about 100 yen if I remember correctly

Mochi is another popular snack in Japan. This is a soft and chewy rice cake typically filled with sweet fillings such as red bean, green tea, plum and black sesame paste.

Japan Mochi
Japan Mochi

The best places to load up on all these delicious snacks are at local supermarkets such as Aeon malls, or discount stores such as Don Quijote.

6. Instant Soup

Which soup comes to mind when we talk about Japan? Of course, it’s miso soup. You can either get miso paste or instant miso soup sachets in Japan.

I prefer the latter as I’m not really into cooking. The miso sachet is convenient to use as it comes with added “ingredients” such as dried shrimp, tofu pieces and scallion. You just need to add hot water.  

Miso soup Japan
8 packets of miso soup sachet (individual portion)

Other than miso soup, you can also get Japan soup stock (Dashi) that comes either in instant sachet, cube-form or as a seasoning bag. I use these often whenever I need to make single-portion noodle soup. 

Soup seasoning Japan
Instant sachets of soup stock – each packet contains about 6 sachets

Based on what I’ve tried, the seasoning bag has the richest flavor. Just put one into boiling water and you’ll get a good soup base within minutes.

Japan Soup seasoning sachets
Seasoning Bag – this one comes with 20 bags

7. Food Seasoning & Condiments

I love Japan’s seasoning products, one of which is seasoning flakes that you can sprinkle on your rice or just about anything. I love sprinkling these on my salad.

There’re so many flavors to choose from such as beef, chicken, cod roe, anchovy, sour plum and salted kelp (seaweed).

Things to buy in Japan
Seasoning flakes (Clockwise: Beef, Plum, Salted Kelp, Anchovy, Cod Roe)
Things to buy in Japan
Sprinkle these seasonings on my salad

Another seasoning product you can get in Japan is Bonito Flake, which is basically flakes of dried fish. It gives your food the taste of ocean. :) 

They come in lightly-salted or unsalted form. You can also get them in multiple single-serving packets. The one below is slightly salted and tastes really good! I love sprinkling them on top of tofu, fried eggs and salad.

What to buy in Japan

If you are into cooking, you can even buy packets of dried fishes, dried kelps and bottles of cod roe from supermarkets. These items require cooking.

And last but not least, don’t forget to top up your Japanese condiments such as salad dressing (e.g. Wafu Dressing), wasabi, sushi vinegar and somen noodle sauce (Tsuyu).

8. Japanese Noodles

What else to buy in Japan? If luggage capacity and weight is not a concern, you can also load up Japan noodles such as udon, somen and soba. And don’t forget the super delicious instant noodles, which if you didn’t know, were invented by the Japanese. 

Things to buy in Japan
Random photo of instant noodles bought in Japan

The most delicious instant noodle I’ve had was purchased straight from the Cup Noodles Museum in Osaka (see location). You’ll get to draw and design the cup, as well as customize the ingredients.

> RELATED: How we spent 5 days in Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto

> READ: 7 Budget-Friendly Hotels in Osaka & Around

Nissin Factory Osaka
I chose these ingredients for my cup noodle

9. Coffee & Tea

I can tell by just shopping around that Japanese are crazy over coffee as much as they love their matcha (green) tea. Other than the numerous vending machines selling cans of coffee, you’ll also see coffee sold in large one-litre cartons, just like how milk is sold. 

For tourists, weight may be an issue. Worry not. You can get coffee powder instead which are sold in instant sachets, bottled powder or refill pack.

Klook.com
Klook.com

Japan Coffee

One popular brand is UCC. I bought a refill pack of ground coffee powder at around ¥400 (300g). Mom said it’s fragrant and pure, i.e. not thickened with other ingredients. 

TIP:  When buying coffee in Japan, do not assume the powder is instant coffee. It could be ground coffee which requires brewing. Use Google translate (camera function) to confirm product type. 

Other than coffee, another must-buy beverage is Japanese green tea or matcha, which normally comes in fine powder form. One popular brand is Ito En.

You can also find “salty tea” such as Kelp Tea or Plum Tea. They actually taste more like soup to me. :) I got one pack of Plum Tea at about ¥100 from Don Quijote.

Japan tea
Tea selections at Don Quijote, Japan
What to buy in Japan
Bought these from Japan (Clockwise: Ito En green tea, Don Quijote green tea, UCC ground coffee, Plum Salted Tea)

10. Japan-made Ice Cream

We had an ice cream almost every other day when touring in Japan. They taste great and are inexpensive. Just visit the supermarket and you’ll be spoilt for choice.

If you can’t decide on which flavor to try, start off with matcha ice cream.

> MUST-READ: 11 things I love about Japan and I know you would too!

Okinawa Aeon Ice Cream
Japan ice cream

11. Japan Confectionery

Japan confectionery is delectable, presentable and available at different price points. For a simple breakfast, you can head to supermarket’s bread section for affordable bun that cost as low as ¥100.

Though cheap, you’ll be impressed with the fillings available, such as tuna, ham and cheese, beef steak and apple strudel.

Japan bread
Supermarket bread that comes with rich fillings

If you want freshly-baked buns, most bakeries sold them at about ¥200 a piece after tax.

Japan confectionery
Freshly baked breads

Exquisite confectionery are even more pricey, and they work great as souvenir gifts. Be ready to fork out a few thousand yen though.

12. Alcohol from Japan

Love to get tipsy? Some of the popular alcoholic drinks in Japan include beer, sake and plum wine. I’ve listed them in ascending order of sweetness.

For Japan-made beer, look out for brands such as Asahi, Sapporo, Kirin and Orion. If you are in Okinawa, don’t forget to go for the free Orion factory tour

> RELATED: 11 Tips you need to know when choosing a hotel in Japan

Japan Sake and beer
Sake and Orion Beer

 


Apparels, Footwear & Bags

13. Casual Apparels

Do you like affordable and comfortable casual apparels? If yes, head to stores like Uniqlo and GU.

The tank top, socks and cardigan that I bought from Uniqlo in Japan were about 15 to 40 percent cheaper than those selling in Singapore.

TIP: The sneaker socks that I bought from Uniqlo were good as they stayed in place when I walk. Cheaper ones that I got from Daiso didn’t work for me – they kept slipping off my heels. 

Uniqlo Osaka Japan
Uniqlo store in Japan

Other than the favorable pricing, I also enjoyed a wider range of apparels when shopping in Japan’s Uniqlo stores. For instance, the white and translucent cardigan that I got in Japan was not available in Singapore.

14. Loose & Airy Women Apparels

Japan is one of the best place to buy loose and airy clothing. Since these roomy apparels are favored by Japanese women, you’ll get good options at great prices.

Pretty ladies in Japan
Ladies in roomy apparels

15. Minimalist Fashion Pieces from Muji

Muji is known for its minimalist concept which extends from its household items to fashion pieces such as apparels, socks, bags and travel accessories.

Prior to my Osaka trip, I was tempted to buy a sleek backpack from Muji in Singapore (S$50). Luckily, I put my impulse on hold as the same backpack was 30% cheaper in Japan.

Muji Backpacks
The backpack is placed within the ladies’ department in Singapore

Well, in the end I still didn’t get it as the same backpack was found in the kids’ department in Japan. LOL! In Singapore, it’s placed within the adults’ section.

Err, I don’t want to be seen carrying a kids’ backpack lah, even though it fits my petite frame. :) 

Check out:

16. Get a Backpack from Japan!

Need more ideas on what to buy in Japan? How about a backpack? 

In Japan’s major cities, it’s common to see people – ladies, men and kids – carrying backpacks. I reckon that’s because people walk a lot in Japan since public transportation is a major way of life.

Therefore, Japan is a great place to get well-designed and quality backpacks. You’ll be pampered with an amazing range of options – from lightweight to sturdy, feminine to musculine and budget to premium backpacks.

Backpack in Japan
Backpacks at Yodobashi Camera Multimedia Umeda

One good place to shop for backpack in Osaka is at Yodobashi Camera Multimedia Umeda (see location). You can also look for them in departmental stores and independent fashion outlets.

After two weeks of shopping, I finally made up my mind to get one from Porter (see point below).

17. Understated Bags from Porter

Porter is a brand that originated in Japan and known for its understated, quality and functional bags. Although the design may appeal to men better, I find myself loving one specific backpack from the brand.

Porter backpack from Japan
Tried a few Porter backpacks over two days in Osaka

It’s the one on the right. This soft-fabric backpack is lightweight, sleek and understated. Most importantly, it’s large enough to contain my laptop without drowning out my petite frame. It’s also really versatile and can be used on different occasions – from casual to smart casual and even a corporate look.

I paid about ¥25,000 for it, which is not cheap considering it’s just a soft and shapeless fabric. But I couldn’t find another one that met my criteria, other than the Muji backpack (see point above).

18. Walking Shoes

We mentioned earlier about how much walking is required in Japan. In fact, we saw locals mostly wearing comfortable walking shoes even when their footwear may, at times appear a tad too casual as compared to their dressing. 

What does high demand of walking shoes in Japan mean? It means you’ll get good options when shopping for one in Japan. So go on, load up that sneakers!

Related Readings:

 


Household Items to buy in Japan

19. Japan Household Accessories

Daiso and Can Do are two great places to shop for affordable household accessories in Japan. Some items you can buy in Japan include chopsticks, sushi makers and Japanese utensils.

As Japan is big on bento meals, I found Daiso offering a good selection of lunch boxes and got one at ¥300. See, it even comes with a food divider and a top lid to separate the chopstick (chopstick sold separately). 

Things to buy in Japan
Lunch box from Japan

Other household items you can buy include garden tools, vacuum bags, laundry bags, pet supplies, snacks and honestly, too many to list in this post.

Daiso is really a great place to shop at especially when you have nothing specific in mind to get. :) Most items are priced at ¥100 which makes shopping an easy and affordable affair.

Things to buy in Japan
Foldable Japanese fan at 100 yen

If you have a bigger budget, Muji is another popular chain store to load up on Japan household products.

My most memorable Muji store has to be the one at Grand Front Osaka (see location). You’ll be blown away by its huge collections, including furniture and electronics. 

Ya, can you imagine seeing a Muji washing machine, fridge, microwave oven and food blender? 

Muji store in Osaka Japan
Muji washing machines

20. Buy Thermal Flask in Japan

Thermal Flask is one of the top 3 items I would buy in Japan, other than beauty items and seasoning stuff.

Are you looking for a heat/cold retaining mug or flask? Okay, never mind even if you are not, just grab one from Zojirushi or Tiger. You’ll be impressed at how good their thermal quality is. My ice cubes can remain in that state for more than a day inside my Zojirushi flask. 

What to buy in Japan
Zojirushi Thermal Flask from Japan

The reason why I recommend that you get it in Japan is because it can cost a lot more elsewhere. For instance, I got my 360ml flask for about ¥2200 from Aeon Okayama. When I got back to Singapore, I was shocked to see Takashimaya selling it at more than twice the price, at S$75.

TIP: Do note that although these brands originate in Japan, they may not be made in Japan. My Zojirushi Flask was made in Thailand (and if I remember correctly, Tiger was made in China).

Don’t worry as Japan is renowned for its quality control management.  

Zojirushi Thermal Flask Price
My pink Zojirushi thermal flask

TIP: Here’s another thing to note when buying thermal flask. If you want a leak-proof flask, avoid those with flip-up lid (like mine). Get those twist-and-turn lid instead. 

When mine leaked, I thought it was defective until I read from the warranty booklet that it is not supposed to be leak-proof. I have to keep it upright, like on a desk or vertically in my bag. 

 


Electronics & Stationery

21. Camera & Accessories

When shopping at Yodobashi Camera Multimedia Umeda (see location), I was amazed at how much space they allocated to camera and accessories. If you are a photography-fanatic, Japan would be your shopping haven!

In case you do not know, most top camera brands – Canon, Sony, Nikon and Olympus – originated in Japan. 

Buy Camera from Japan
A large section dedicated to cameras and accessories in Japan

22. Stationery & Office Supplies

Japan is a great place to load up on quality and aesthetically-pleasing stationary such as pen, notebook, envelopes, origami paper and calculators (e.g. casio). 

You’ll also find cute Japanese-theme items such as stickers, erasers and manga-coloring books. Check out my Japanese food-theme stickers! Cute, isn’t it? 

Things to buy in Japan
Japan-food theme stickers
Things to buy in Japan
Coloring book and sushi-theme erasers

 


Toys & Collectible Items

23. Capsule Toys

You’ll see capsule toy vending machines everywhere you go. One good place to be overwhelmed with these machines, also known as Gashapon, is at Osaka Den Den Town. 

Check out my bowing Corgi. Very Japanese indeed, huh? :)

Gashapon machine Japan
Got this Japanese corgi when I played the Gashapon

24. Game Collector Cards

What do you buy for kids in Japan? Prior to my Osaka trip, I didn’t know people would pay so much for paper cards, until my partner started shopping for them at Osaka Den Den Town.

That was one of the things his nephew requested for. And yes, he’s a doting uncle! LOL!

Japan anime collector cards
Collector cards in Japan

He even spent quite a bit of time and money playing Pokemon arcade games (in different Japan towns), hoping to win some collector cards.

I joined him in one and let me tell you a secret – we just hit the button vigorously with both hands, not knowing what we were doing because everything was in Japanese. That was definitely a good upper arm workout session! :)

Pokemon in Japan
The arcade machine spit out this Pokemon card

25. Manga & Anime Figures & Accessories

You can also get manga and anime figurines in Japan. I didn’t spend much time checking them out because this is not my interest. But I can tell you that it’s a shopping haven for anime and manga lovers.

 


That’s all I have for you. It’s quite a long list of authentic things to buy in Japan, isn’t it? Not the expensive stuff meant for tourists. :) Do share them with your friends and family if you find it useful. Thanks, ya?

Next, I’ll be working on my Japan Travelogue. Want to stay connected so that you’ll get notified whenever a new post is published? Just click the button below. Thank you for reading, guys! See you soon.

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Things to buy in Japan

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