Shopping Tips When Traveling in Japan

by - 6/22/2018 01:01:00 AM

Tourists visiting the “Land of the Rising Sun” have a lot of attractions to look forward to. Osaka is regarded as the country’s food paradise. Kyoto, on the other hand, is well-known for its picturesque temples and shrines. The main attraction, however, remains to be Tokyo, its capital city. This ultra-modern metropolis is a shopping mecca that contains an abundance of delights that can cater to the most discriminating of tastes.

This article will be about providing some general information on how to maximize your shopping experience during your trip.

Bring ready cash

Japan is one of the leading nations in the world when it comes to cutting-edge technology. Remarkably, however, there are still a good number of businesses that prefer accepting cash over credit. In fact, some of them would still need to have a payment terminal installed. Such stores are mostly “mom and pop” businesses and small restaurants. There are usually interesting finds here though there are of course many to be found in department stores and branded outlets as well.

Having a cash-based culture is only part of the reason. The Japanese tend to put more emphasis on saving than using credit. Another explanation for the moderate penetration of credit card acceptance is the bank fees collected from merchants. Banks reportedly charge around 3.6% though this figure tends to become lower for larger businesses due to the higher volume of transactions. You might also want to check the foreign transaction fees your credit card company charges if any. 

Save on finance charges

Having cash with you is one thing, constantly withdrawing it from an ATM is quite another. Japanese ATMs have different operating procedures than those around the world. An odd thing about it is the introduction of operating hours with corresponding transaction fees. Those made during working hours on weekdays are usually free. Any withdrawals made outside of these times could go between 105 yen to 210 yen (or higher) and can add up if done frequently.

Japan is a country that has a very low crime rate so it is generally safe to carry a large amount of cash around. Lost wallets are normally returned and items mistakenly left behind will generally still be there if found by the owner. Though being cautious about your money is still encouraged, there is less chance that you would lose it in this highly ethical nation. It makes sense to have a good amount of foreign currency exchanged upon your arrival with money changers offering competitive rates.

Bring your passport

Purchases of regular commodities and consumable items are taxed at a rate of 8% in Japan. This is called their Consumption Tax. It is similar to a Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Value Added Tax (VAT) in other countries. If you are tourist staying in the country for less than six months, however, you are exempt from paying it provided you present your passport at the store. There are two different procedures with some steps to follow in order for you to avail of the privilege.

This would usually entail an accumulated purchase of 5,000 yen or more in the same store on the same day. There are numerous participating shops that are easily identified through their tax-free or duty-free signage. Make sure you look out for these before doing your shopping. Why pay an additional 8% on your larger expenses when you only have to bring your passport and follow some practical guidelines?

Best place to buy luxury goods

If you have a penchant for the finer things in life then look no further. Japan has a wide selection of designer goods and high-fashion products. Its enormous demand for such items easily places the country among the world’s top consumers. This will make it easier for you to find any of your favorite brands.

Among them are luxury watches. These may be purchased tax-free and for an excellent price. There are different stores which offer such items though try to visit ones that offer an extensive list of choices. Those having a complete range of watches from Rolex watches to Casio watches to choose from usually have a great website that has them on display. Research on them first to plan out your purchase.

Get around easier

Going to and from your shopping destinations should be as smooth as possible. You can choose to use taxis or any of the ride-sharing apps should you have Internet access. If you are feeling adventurous however and want to see more of the area you are in, try getting an Integrated Circuit (IC) Card. It helps you board most buses, subways, and trains with these rechargeable cards. They may conveniently be used in a good majority of Japan’s larger cities and are compatible with popular IC Card companies.

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