During my first days as a foreigner here in Japan, my apartment’s caretaker was kind enough to accompany me shopping for essentials. One time, immediately after buying groceries, we headed to another establishment within the same building. The sign at the entrance was saying “100” with Japanese symbols I didn’t understand back then – it was 100円ショップ, or 100 yen shop (and yes, now I can definitely read the sign).
100 yen shops are Japan-style one-dollar shops that sell a wide variety of items for 108 yen (JPY 8 is a tax) – this is equivalent to about one US dollar. Popular 100yen shops in Japan include: The Daiso, Can Do, Watts and my personal favorite, Seria. The Daiso is currently expanding not only in Japan but in many other parts of Asia.
What’s so great about 100円 shops?
100 yen shops are undeniably successful in Japan, but what’s so great about them? Let’s find out:
100 yen stores – especially those found in the big cities – are essentially one-stop-shops. Anything from snacks, to kitchenware, basic clothing, office supplies, and even toys – you name it, a nearby 100 yen store probably has it. Some 100 yen shops are so big that it can fully occupy a building of six floors!
100 yen shops sell almost all items for 100 yen plus an added 8 yen of consumption tax. That amount is relatively small when compared to purchases from the department stores.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind that some of the items sold in 100 yen stores might not be of the best quality and/or are not fit for some purposes. 100 yen items are generally of good quality when it comes to less “demanding” uses, but you can’t really expect a 100 yen item to be as “heavy-duty” as its expensive counterparts. To put in a perspective, just think of it this way: 100 yen office supplies are generally OK, but you can’t exactly say the same for a 100 yen frying pan.
Japanese people are known to give attention to detail, so there’s no wonder why items found in 100 yen stores manifest the same trait. Various products for sorting and fine arrangements can be found in 100 yen shops, like coin arrangers (and yeah, even the small 1 coins have an arranger), intricate document holders, mini-drawers, (excessively) colorful files, and lots of “kawaii” stationery.
This might sound like an exaggeration but yeah, as far as being concerned about major cities, 100 yen shops in Japan are practically just a short bicycle ride from anywhere.
100 yen shops have become quite an important part of living in Japan so don’t forget to enjoy 100 yen shopping on your stay!