Stuck At Home? 5 Japanese Websites To Buy Essential Things

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  • Now that Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has declared a nationwide state of emergency, many people are now under self-quarantines and working from home. Naturally, this is not the case for everyone since there are still many companies that have not allowed their employees to telework, while other people have jobs that are categorized as essential.

    by Martin Danker

    However, with the COVID-19 cases going up and businesses changing their hours of operation due to the pandemic and the prefectural governments requests, most people want to limit the times they head outside. Inevitably, people still need to go out to buy basic things like groceries; but that can be an issue for several things:

  • Grocery stores and drugstores can be very crowded, and thus social distancing becomes impossible
  • Some grocery stores have had to close their doors because an employee tested positive for the coronavirus, leaving residents without a place to buy their necessities for at least two weeks
  • If there are not grocery stores within walking distance, then people will have to take the train, increasing their chances of getting sick
  • For these reason, now more than ever, online shopping has become incredibly important in Japan, and many Japanese who were completely used to brick-and-mortar businesses have been forced to shop online for the first time in their lives.

    With that in mind, here’s a list of useful websites one can use to buy daily necessities:

    Seijo Ishii is a fantastic store that sells a wide variety of high quality products, including imported goods. Seijo Ishii can be a fantastic option if you are thinking of products like muesli, oatmeal, granola, jams, coffee beans, dairy products, peanut butter, chocolate, beers, and wines.

    The only issue with Seijo Ishii is that one has to spend about 8,000 yen (excluding tax) to receive free shipping, and if the products can’t be shipped inside the same box due to temperature guidelines, it would be considered as a different order and thus it will have a shipping fee of its own. For example, you could have spent 8,000 yen worth of coffee beans, cereal, peanut butter, and cheese; but since the cheese you bought has to remain cold, it cannot be shipped inside the same box as the cereal. Therefore, you will be getting two different boxes and would have to pay a shipping fee for each package.

    Fortunately, the website is very comprehensive, so you can check your cart each time you add a product and see if they would be shipped together or not.

    Since 8,000 yen is a lot of money, Seijo Ishii is a great website if you know exactly what you need and you have the space to store it.

    Soukai is a fantastic website that offers everything one could buy at a brick-and-mortar drugstore. Soukai is operated by Rakuten Inc., one of the most famous online shopping sites in Japan.

    Soukai’s prices are also very competitive, oftentimes being cheaper than those of major drug stores. Soukai is great if you want to buy things like: medicine, detergent, shampoo, body soap, moisturizer, sunscreen, dietary supplements, toilet paper, protein powder, pet food, and sport drinks among other products.

    If you spend 2,500 yen (tax excluded), then there’s no shipping fee (unless you like in Hokkaido or Okinawa, which always have to pay the 600 yen plus tax shipping fee.

    Matsumoto Kiyoshi is one of Japan’s largest drugstores, operating mostly in the Kanto region. As of July 2019, the company reported that it operated a total of 898 stores. Matsumoto Kiyoshi tends to have a great selection of products that are sold at competitive prices, and their online store is no exception.

    Matsumoto Kiyoshi is great if you are looking for over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, and daily necessities like shampoo, detergent, and cosmetics.

    Essentially, Matsumoto Kiyoshi offerings overlap with those from Soukai, and a recommendation is to use bothw websites to check prices, since some products are cheaper at Matsumoto Kiyoshi while others are cheaper at Soukai.

    One of the best things about Matsumoto Kiyoshi’s online store is that it offers free shipping if you spend as little as 1,980 yen.

    This one is more of a no-brainer since customers around the world are familiar with Amazon and Amazon Fresh. Amazon Fresh is thorough and simple to use: you can reserve the day and time frame on which you want your groceries to be delivered, and you can purchase a wide variety of things.

    Amazon Prime members can use Amazon Fresh, and if one wants to place an order, one has to spend a minimum of 4,000 yen and pay a 390 yen shipping fee (which is free if one spends more than 10,000 yen). For free delivery for orders below 10,000 yen, registering as an Amazon Fresh member (500 yen a month) is necessary. So it’s important to do the math and see if paying the shipping fee is cheaper than the monthly membership fee. It all depends on how many times a month you use the service.

    Sadly, Amazon Fresh is not available everywhere. While Amazon Fresh’s goal is to expand, it’s currently available only in Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Chiba; and even within these prefectures, Amazon Fresh is not available in certain areas.

    For example, while Tokyo has 23 special wards, and several cities in Western Tokyo, Amazon Fresh is only available in: Setagaya, Meguro, Chiyoda, Chuo, Taito, Sumida, Koto, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Ota, Minato, Suginami, Shinjuku, Bunkyo, Arakawa, Adachi, Katsushika, Edogawa, Chofu, and Komae. Some of the 23 special wards that are notably absent include Nakano, Toshima, and Nerima.

    IMPORTANT: Due to the pandemic, choosing a delivery day has become more difficult, so don’t expect to be able to find a delivery time close to the day you are doing your online shopping.

    Another option for those who can’t use Amazon Fresh is to download Amazon Prime Now and order groceries from the supermarket Life. Unfortunately, the products available through Amazon Prime Now are quite limited.

    Ito Yokado, a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings Co., is one of Japan’s most popular hypermarkets. As such, Omni7’s online store can be a good place to buy some important things like food and supplies. The great thing is that Omni7’s website also has items sold at Loft and under stores that are under the Seven & I Holdings umbrella, so one can buy things like nail clippers and face masks.

    However, you have to be careful when it comes to shipping fees since each store will have different rules. For example, Ito Yokado’s shipping fee is 300 yen no matter what, while Loft offers free shipping with purchases above 5,000 yen (tax excluded).

    What’s more, Ito Yokado has some hefty shipping fees in certain products, so make sure you are not making mistakes when buying them. I once found a set that contained the vegetables I wanted to buy, but each set had a special 550 yen shipping fee regardless of how many someone wanted to buy. Thus, if someone wanted to buy 9 of those sets, it would result in a 4,950 yen shipping fee.

    Honorable Mention: National Azabu

    National Azabu is a legendary grocery store in Hiroo that sells quality produce and imported goods. Located in Hiroo, National Azabu has been a favorite among affluent residents and the expat community.

    As such, National Azabu offers free delivery on orders above 5,000 yen (3,000 yen if you are shopping at National Den-en, which is located in Den-en-choufu). However, you can’t order food online, you have to email, call, or fax the store if you want to order groceries and have them delivered to you. Because this is not a chain, only people living in certain neighborhoods within Minato-ku, Chiyoda-ku, Shibuya-ku, Meguro-ku, and Shinagawa-ku can use National Azabu’s service, while National Den-en focuses on certain neighborhoods within Setagaya-ku, Oota-ku, and Meguro-ku.

    Another option to shop at National Azabu, is to download the app Mikuna, but you have to live in Minato-ku to use it.

    Conclusion

    These are some great websites you can use if you live in Japan and need to buy some daily essentials. These websites are great due to a variety of reasons, including the variety of products they offer and that they ship to numerous locations within Japan.

    *Featured Image by amazonfresh (Amazon Fresh) on Instagram
    : amazonfresh/