You don’t have to be in Japan for very long before you hear about the 100 Yen shop. It’s famous with tourists and locals alike, and for a very good reason. On discovering the shop, I immediately thought of the discount stores back home and wondered if it would be the same as those ‘bargain’ stores I grew up with. What a world apart that idea is from the truth!
It seems pretty obvious that when it comes to cost controlled shops, the cost should be… controlled. Well, not so in the case of British £1 shops. More often than not you’ll spot some piece of new technology or a snazzy appliance and think ‘Wait, that can’t be £1!’ … because it isn’t. Pound shops in the UK often lure in customers under the guise of cheap merchandise, but once inside it turns out that if you were hoping to purchase anything more than a chocolate bar for the aforementioned price, you’re out of luck.
100 Yen stores, on the other hand, do exactly what they say on the tin. Almost everything in the ‘one coin’ shop costs 100 Yen (plus 8 Yen tax). Anything that costs more is clearly marked, and when you take it to the counter, the shop assistant will point out to you that you’ve selected an item of extra cost, just to make sure you feel like you haven’t been conned into accidentally buying something expensive. In my local 100 Yen store (the popular Daiso brand) items over 100 Yen fall into neat categories (¥150, ¥200, ¥400…) so you never have to pay weird amounts for unusual items.
You get what you pay for, right? Wrong. Well, right some of the time… For example, if you buy something for £1 in the UK, you get what you pay for. If you pay £1 for a pack of 24 biro pens, don’t be too surprised (as I was) when you open up the packet and discover that none of them work, at all. Confectionery items you can’t really go wrong with, but if you think £1 is a good price to pay for a box of custard cakes, then I hope you like the taste of sawdust.
Japan, of course, comes up trumps. The quality of products in the 100 Yen store is incredible. I’ve never had anything break or be even vaguely unsatisfactory. My expectations are exceeded every time I shop there, and the range of products is just amazing. If you need proof, just check out the Daiso Website
At the pound shop, sometimes you come across an item that makes you think ‘What is what? Literally, who would buy that piece of…whatever it is’. In 100 Yen stores, you discover amazing little gadgets and gizmo’s that you had no idea you needed in your life. Like a mango cutter, or table leg socks, or silicone ice tray. Ok, not technically all necessary items for daily life, but pretty cool all the same.
There’s no competition – 100 Yen shops are a life saver and pleasure provider for anyone living in Japan. Whether you are buying household goods, food and snack supplies or Japanese themed gifts, you will not be disappointed.