Japan beauty shopping tips, December 2015

Japan recently increased their consumption tax from 5% to 8%. As a result, Japan now allows foreign visitors to buy consumable items tax free when purchasing at least 5,001 yen (~AUD55+) of them. This means you can buy now cosmetics, skincare and food in Japan tax-free! 😀

In practice, this policy change has been a blessing and a curse for a bargain hunter like me. Previously, if I saw something I liked at a good price, I would just buy it. However, on this trip, I spent too much time scrounging Tokyo to find stores where I could buy at least 5,001 yen of the products I wanted (at a good price) in one go.

This time, my top beauty shopping tip place is actually Yodobashi Camera!

Yes, Yodobashi Camera is mainly an electronics chain, but most of their stores will have a cosmetics floor. Previously, I had never even considered these electronics type stores! Yodobashi provide the Tax-Free service (8% saving) and also another 5% discount if you pay with a Visa card. This is all done at time of purchase at the register. If I could re-do my shopping, I would have done most of my beauty shopping at Yodobashi Akiba first, with the left over products at Matsumoto Kiyoshi (large Japanese drugstore chain).

I actually got a bit tricked by Bic Camera – a Yodobashi rival. At Narita Airport Arrivals, I found a 8% + 7% = 15% coupon for Bic Camera. Due to this, I initially limited my shopping research at Bic Camera. When I finally decided to buy, I was told at the register, only after my goodies were scanned, that cosmetics can only receive a maximum 8% discount. Dodgy! This is not mentioned at all on the fine print of the coupon!!! Grr! 😡

What’s worse was that I went to several Bic Camera stores across Tokyo so I could find one that had a wide enough stock selection to reach the 5,001 yen threshold. To rub it in, when I finally checked Yodobashi Akiba, many of the same products were cheaper at Yodobashi; Yodabashi had a very good range of products in the one store, plus I could use their 5% Visa discount on cosmetics! What a waste of time!

A note about Matsumoto Kiyoshi (MK). You will find them all around town, but funnily each store can have different pricing. For example, in Shibuya there are two MK stores within 30 seconds walk. Even with their close proximity, some items were cheaper at one store than the other. The range was also different for particular brands. If you can be bothered, it does pay to have a look around.

Another drugstore chain, Daikoku also has some very competitive prices, but I find their stores generally have less range than MK. I think they also have less stores than MK.

There are of course many, many, many more places for Japanese beauty shopping, but I thought it’s worth pointing out the above on a price competition point of view.

Anyway, once I’m back in Melbourne, my haul post will be coming up next! 😀

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