Growing up in the US, the dollar store was a place where I could go to buy cheap things, especially since I wasn’t an adult yet so I was only earning peanuts for the odd jobs I did as a child. If I had a few dollars, I could go to the dollar store and buy a few things and be happy.
Well, I haven’t really outgrown that. Imagine my surprise when I found the equivalent of the same store in Japan–only, it wasn’t the dollar store anymore. It was the ¥100 shop.
Long time residents and Japanese people know how awesome these shops are. They are essential for daily living. For ¥100, you can get anything from the practical to the whimsical. At the same store, you can get underwear or a book of stickers. There’s something for everyone, from kids to grandparents.
Getting lost in these shops is like an adventure. I can honestly spend hours upon hours just browsing through the aisles of stuff. There is always something interesting to see.
The three major chains in Japan are Daiso, Can Do, and Seria. We have them in Hokkaido, of course, and all three happen to be in town, as well. In general, you’ll find them in shopping areas or stations, so they are really convenient for practical, everyday supplies.
I’m lucky to be living five minutes on foot from a very big Daiso store. Closer to the station, our Can Do shop just opened last year. A few minutes drive away, we have a Seria. But, there is also an online Daiso shop (above link)! Talk about maximum convenience.
What separates them from the US dollar stores is the quality of their products. This is just my personal opinion, but I really think that even though the stuff is obviously cheap, they last really long. You’ll also be able to find things that are made in Japan, not only from China. In fact, I still have a lot of thing in my house that I’ve bought years ago and am still using almost everyday. These are usually kitchen utensils.
You can find food and clothes, trays for organizing, hobby goods, and even hardware like hammers and nails. If you forgot to pack something on your trip to Japan, stop by at these places and you’ll usually find them there. I’ve seen people buy umbrellas or raincoats at the shop if they get caught in some unexpected rain.
Like I said, there’s something for everyone.
For visitors to Japan, this might also be a place to buy some souvenirs. They have individual bags of Japanese chocolates and sweets. There are also some Japanese-styled products like small coin purses or other knick knacks you can easily give away. They are usually small enough and easy to pack in suitcases.
Around Sapporo Station, there are only a few places that I know. There is a Can Do shop in the second basement of Esta Department Store (always crowded). Basically, if you find yourself at the food court, find the escalator that will take you down one more floor. You’ll find the escalator in front of the Mos Burger shop.
Outside the station, but close enough, is the one across the street from Kinokuniya and diagonally across from the Daimaru is a Daiso. Basically, you’ll cross the street, go up some stairs and you’ll find it on the second floor. It’s right above the San Marc Cafe. If you’re at the Information center, exit out from to where the 7-11 or the Irish Pub is.
The biggest Daiso downtown is probably the one in Odori station. If you’re in the Tanuki Koji Arcade area, you’re very close. The coordinates are South 2, West 2 (南２西２). It’s right across from the McDonalds. There are five floors of ¥100 goods.
The only caveat I have is to be make sure your you’re really paying attention to your purchases because some of the goods are NOT actually ¥100. Some of the better-quality/bigger ones will cost more and the prices will be marked accordingly from ¥200 and up to ¥1500. Also, food products are taxed at 8% while other goods are taxed at 10%.
So there you have it.
Something to think about if you’re on a tight budget but would still like to get some souvenirs from Japan.