The Best 100 Yen Shops in Tokyo

When traveling out of the country, it is somewhat an unspoken rule that you’ll have to bring some goodies home for family and friends. Unless you’re already filthy rich and buying any gift you want for people is not a problem, your budget will always be a restriction for you with regards to this unspoken rule. It is a complicated position to be in sometimes because it’s a given that you would want to spend on things for yourself but you can’t go all out because you’ll need to save a considerable amount of money to be able to bring home something good for the people you care for. If you are headed to Japan, you are in great luck because there might be a solution to this possible budget dilemma and that solution comes in the form of the 100 Yen Shops found all over Japan.

By Bank of Japan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The History of 100 Yen Shops in Japan

The 100 Yen Shop, or Hyaku En Shoppu, can be considered a fairly new marketing strategy if compared to some marketing strategies that have been in use for nearly a decade now. The actual first 100 Yen Shop has yet to be established but as far as the biggest 100 Yen Shop chain is concerned, this type of business has been in Japan since the year of 1991. This chain is the Daiso brand and its stores have only existed in Japan for about 26 years.

By Buchanan-Hermit at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Takamatsu-ten is the first of Daiso’s many 100 yen shops and it comes as a surprise that it only started 26 years ago because the United States has had dollar store model since the 1950’s and their business models are practically identical. They both sell all their items for a fixed price. Despite the fact that this strategy has been in use since the 1950’s, it was still able to bring in amazing results for the Daiso company because, within a decade of Daiso’s opening, they were able to increase their company’s capital from 50 million yen to a whopping 2.7 billion yen. This growth in a span of a very short time showed the world that items of great quality which are sold at prices that a consumer sees as a “win” for him or herself can almost ensure constant sales for those items. In other words, more often than not, people with money will buy things they don’t even need if they see that they are sold at a bargain price.

It has been 26 years since this type of marketing was implemented in Japan and until this very day, more and more branches and brands of these 100 yen stores are popping up, one after the other. This is not to say that they have not changed or made adjustments along the way because they sure did. Some of these adjustments are what kept the interest of consumers in their businesses. Among the many adjustments they made, the biggest one would have to be the introduction of products that people actually need on a daily basis. When these businesses added products like household basics and other things that would drive a DIY enthusiast crazy happy, they unknowingly created a crucial role for them in the Japanese society. They became the cheap and reliable alternative source for these household essentials as well as a variety of other products. Since their stores can be spotted anywhere from Shinjuku to Shibuya to Harajuku to Asakusa and even Ikebukuro, these cheap yet vital products became easily accessible for everyone in Japan.

The Best 100 Yen Shops You Can Find in Tokyo, Japan

By Seria Co.,Ltd. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There is a list of the best 100 yen shop brands. The first one you should check out is the brand known as Can Do. It is one of the three biggest chains of 100 yen stores in Japan and almost half of the items found here are made from Japan. Among the many things found here, what stands out is their stationery and kitchen supply selection because of its quality and diversity. They also sell a duck-shaped egg timer that helps home cooks perfect the soft, medium, and hard boiled egg. If you are to check out one of their branches, go to the Ikejiri-Ohashi branch because it is the most complete among all Can Do branches.

The next brand worth checking out is Seria. If Can Do was known for their kitchen and stationery supply selection, Seria is known for their equal product selection. What this means is that the products you can find in Seria are divided equally into 3 categories which are namely home necessities, clever knick-knacks, and arts and crafts supplies. Aside from having a hotel-like ambiance, Seria is also known to have an interesting selection of ceramics as well as French-themed home décor so if you need any of those things, you know where to go. Try to go to the Shinjuku branch of Seria because that particular branch is considered to be the best of all the Seria branches.

Daiso would obviously be the last of the three biggest 100 yen store chains and with that being said, it should be the 100 yen store that you don’t miss out on. Daiso stores are huge compared to its competitors which sometimes makes customers look for a guide around its establishments. If its competitors are known for their unique selections, Daiso branches are known for their sheer size and magnitude. The size and magnitude are accompanied by the biggest varieties of selections you can find in any 100 yen shop. All Daiso’s are big but the branch considered to be the best by customers is none other than the Harajuku branch which is composed of three floors. Luckily, the guides you can read here come in English and some of the staff in its branches are also able to speak English to help out international customers with any queries they might have.

On the slight chance that you are looking for a unique 100 yen store, you might want to check out the Lawson 100 Store. The unique thing about this store is that it serves as more of a food market than anything else. This is the case because Lawson 100 stores primarily sell fresh meat and produce. They ensure its freshness by having their perishables delivered multiple times over a day so that they always have a fresh supply of any product. If you are in the Shibuya area and looking for fresh fruits or fresh meats, it is in this area you can find the best branch of the Lawson 100 Store.

Ideas for Great Gifts Found In 100 Yen Shops

By now, you wouldn’t need to see it on the news to know that these 100 yen stores try to have everything for sale. This is sometimes a problem because you can be easily overwhelmed by a number of products you can choose from. To help you out with this problem, here is a list of things that you can find in these 100 yen stores that you cannot find just anywhere in the world or are hard to find in Japan. This factor of uniqueness will make any of these items worth giving as a gift and they only go for 100 yen a piece. Buying these items allows you to be efficient with your money and thoughtful with your gift.

The first things you should look for are traditional Japanese things like Japanese fans or “Sensu”. These things are great gifts because they are unique and they can save a friend on a really hot day. Another traditional thing to look out for is the Maneki-Neko or the welcoming cat you usually see by the entrances of certain stores. These figurines represent many things depending on their posture and color but essentially, they charm you in a way that good things happen and bad things don’t.

You can also try giving a gift like the product mentioned earlier which was the duck-shaped timer. Not only are these unique but they can be very helpful because it can literally make it possible for a novice cook to make a perfectly cooked egg. Another product you can find in the 100 yen store that is in lieu of the timer is the garlic peeler that prevents the smell of garlic to stick on your hands. It is a simple feat but for those who are bothered by the smell of garlic, this would be a highly appreciated gift.

Considering all things mentioned above, going to these 100 yen shops isn’t just for shopping purposes anymore because the experience of shopping inside this type of store showcases a portion of Japanese culture. You get to see all the innovative things they create and sell to help people will everyday tasks and at the same time, they are able to supply them with all kinds of necessities like food, clothing, and anything else you might consider as necessary. You should definitely make time to visit one of these stores, even if just more a moment of a night because you might find something you can use a lot or something you’ll treasure forever.