Unfortunately in my experience here, people don’t have the custom of negotiating the prices for shoppers. Although there are also some cases where price negotiating is acceptable, but discount is not promised, example: at special areas like antique markets, big electronic items like tv, refrigerator and other big gadgets in yodobashi camera, yamada, bic camera and k’s.
Every now and then when there’s an occasion like birthday, christmas and valentines and I go shopping I always tell the clerk that this is for a gift. The clerk will wrap them with decorative wrapping paper and let you choose the colors of a ribbon or sticker. This is nice because it increases the impact of a present. Most shops offer this service for free, some shops offer both free and paid wrapping services, and some only have paid wrapping.
The stores providing tax exemptions are mostly major and big department stores and the stores that have a TAX FREE banner on the storefront. Some small shops might not provide tax free sales, so i suggest you to ask if products you are buying are tax free. You should also be aware that even in big department stores, food items are not eligible for tax free purchase. The qualified price is a total purchase of 10,001 yen and up. If you buy one item worth 3001 yen and one worth 7000 yen, the total is at least 10,001 yen, so it is qualified for tax exemption. The tax equals consumption tax amount, which is now 8%(2015). There are 2 ways of tax exemption: (1) deducting 8% at the time of purchase (for each one product equaling 10,001 or higher) and (2) after purchasing, take all the receipts to the tax exemption counter, complete the exemption procedure, receive the taxed portion in cash, and use the receipt as the tax exemption amount. Almost all the big stores use both systems. Whichever way you use is up to you, but a passport is required to buy anything duty-free, so make sure you bring your passport with you wherever you go.
General sales in all major stores in Japan start in January (some start at the end of the year but others start their sales in the beginning of the new year) The sales schedule are not the same for each store and it will change depending on the season as well. But there are stores here that announce their sales early, so i suggest you to check their fliers or site when a bargain season is coming. Bargain sales are commonly held for about a month, but prices gradually drop as time passes. It is recommended to show up early if you want to have a good and trendy items to carry home, just come later if you only prefer to get something for a really really low price. During a bargain sale season, there’s a chance that you will see many “fuku-bukuro” in front of the stores, it is an old tradition, basically fuku-bukuro a big bag and you don’t know what items are inside of it, only the items quantity is written, and they are sold at low price, this is a very popular custom. These bags are always sold on “the first sale day” so you must come early if want to have it, because some stores have lines of customers lining up from the night before.
We all have a different taste when it comes to choosing a souvenir so i can’t give you the exact idea regarding the most famous souvenirs to bring home from Japan, but i can give you some tips on what most tourist travelers buy as souvenirs from japan.
The most famous and top souvenirs especially attractive to foreign travelers are: (1 )Yukata sets (2) Daruma (3) Omamori a.k.a lucky items. (4) Maneki neko. (5) Gadgets (we all know that there’s a lot of amazing and crazy gadgets that are only available for sale here in Japan ).