Japanese life on a budget: our 100-yen store haul

100-yen stores in Japan are like pound shops in the UK, or dollar stores in the US. The exchange rate’s not always kind to visiting tourists, but it’s still a cheap way to shop.

Everything at a 100-yen store costs… 108 yen. Thanks, Japanese consumption tax! 108 yen’s not bad, though, when you think about it. And larger stores have (what feels like) everything in stock.

We set ourselves a challenge. To show you how it’s possible to exist and enjoy yourself in Japan on a tight budget.

All products featured in this post were (or can be) bought at a 100-yen store. We chose Can Do, because it was closest to the office. There’s a Seria a bit further away. Many people think of Daiso, or Lawson 100, when they think of 100-yen bargain shops, but there isn’t one close enough to us.

Here’s what the whole haul looked like:

We picked up 10 items, which came to a total of 1,080 yen. That’s less than it costs to go to the top of the Abeno Harukas 300 building down in Tennoji. It’s a cool view from that observation deck, but we decided we’d rather have this stuff. So, let’s show you what we found.

Cosmetics and toiletries

You can do your whole face, your hair, and your nails with what’s on display here. And then take it back off with the face washes and nail polish remover. While you’re choosing stuff to fill a makeup bag, go ahead and choose a new, bigger makeup bag at the same time.

Can’t decide on a nail colour? At least you can afford more than one. Experimenting with your style’s way easier when it doesn’t cost much.

What we hauled: some eyeshadow applicators, aloe moisture hand cream, and a strawberry gel face pack.

The hand cream’s super soft, and it sinks in easily. We swear by having a tube handy at all times. Aside from that interesting design, the face pack looks simple to use. And we didn’t notice when we picked it up, but there are 2 packs in there. Double bargain!

Everyday home and kitchen items

Everything you need for modern living will be in the home, kitchen, and bathroom sections.

This is where you can pick up kawaii bento boxes and accessories. Oh, and cups and plates, cutlery, washing up liquid, storage boxes, photo frames, picnic stuff, wipes and cleaning tools, and a bunch of other things.

Nothing hauled from this section of the shop. We haven’t tried kitting out a whole apartment with 100-yen goods. Yet. But we bet we could do it. Maybe that’s for another blog post…

Self care

When it comes to your personal happiness and wellbeing, 100-yen shops take you seriously. Daiso made headlines recently for selling fragranced massage oils that were legit good quality. We saw those in Can Do, next to the incense, tealights, and scented candles.

Slide into comfy 100-yen slippers, light some 100-yen tealights (kept in 100-yen tealight holders for fire safety), and soothe your achy shoulders with a 100-yen back roller. The Can Do item range extends to basic exercise gear as well, like wrist weights and yoga mats.

What we hauled: a soap-scented mini reed diffuser.

Behold, the amazing diffusion power of wooden reeds! It’s got a refreshingly strong scent, considering the bottle’s not that big. Weirdly not soapy, but still nice. We’ll have to update this post when we find out how long it lasts.

Kawaii character goods

Hello Kitty, My Melody, Anpanman, and Doraemon are all familiar faces at Can Do. It’s amazing what companies will slap a cute character on. Face mask? Check. Tissues? Check. Stickers? Check.

What we hauled: a 4-pack of Little Twin Stars tissues, and a Hello Kitty bath drain filter.

In a place like Japan, where public toilets often don’t have toilet paper, tissues are an essential thing to carry. The drain filter caught our attention straight away, not just for Kitty-chan but for the ‘paper doily’ look. It’s meant to fit neatly over the plughole, and catch your hair before it blocks the pipe. How useful is that?

Stationery and masking tape

Pick up a new notepad or letter/envelope set, stickers, and other Japanese stationery like traditional gift cards.

Japan loves masking tape too. Here, washi tape comes in (nearly) every colour and pattern you can think of. There’s often a decent selection of tape on sale at 100-yen shops. We couldn’t get a pic of that shelf at Can Do, too many eager craft and hobby fans in the way. Boooo.

What we hauled: a 2018 calendar/organiser, and a ‘kunoichi’ letter and envelope set.

The kunoichi’s part of a ‘Japanese Women’ design range that includes mini stickers and post-it notes. We could’ve picked a geisha, or a lovable grandma. The A5 organiser is for ‘family and working’, as it says on the cover. The monthly planner inside starts from this October and continues to March 2019, which is super helpful.

Otaku essentials

Idol fans saving up for a Kingblade wave around 108-yen glowsticks instead. One use, one concert, one best girl for life. Until you fall for another idol, in which case it won’t cost much to switch colours.

100-yen shops can also kit you out with ‘home-made’ signs and banners. Well, the stuff you need to make one, at least. They’ll start you off with the basic coloured sticky paper and black background, and you decide which bits to stick where.

Funnily enough, we didn’t need any glowsticks this time. So there’s no haul from the otaku section either.

Seasonal specials

We were at Can Do in late September. So the seasonal display near the door was full of Halloween merch. (Once November begins, they’ll be doing Christmas stuff instead. Where has this year gone?)

Limited goods cover short national holidays and special events, like festival season, Valentine’s Day, cherry blossoms, Hina Matsuri, and New Year. Seasonal goods can mean summer and winter essentials, too. When it’s hot in Japan – and it gets hot here – Can Do saved us with super cheap hand fans, hats, and cute face towels. During the winter months, expect to see more cosy gloves and hats around.

We’d already bought Halloween costumes somewhere else. Maybe next year.

Party decorations

How far would you dare inflate a 100-yen party balloon?

Birthdays aren’t cheap. Once you’ve splashed out on a present and a cake, wanting to save money on the party prep’s only natural. Besides, you’re only gonna sweep up and trash the confetti afterwards. These budget banners, garlands and party bags let you spend more on the birthday boy or girl.

Random fun stuff

The randomness is the best part! You can walk into a 100-yen store just to browse around, with no idea you needed something. And walk back out with weird, new and crazy stuff. Happens to all of us.

What we hauled: a bullet train-themed bath bomb, and some shoe deodorant spray.

Okay, we did know we needed the shoe deodorant… Choosing a bath bomb wasn’t easy – soap, yuzu, apple, and peach all sounded great. In the end, we went for soap again. Testing that one later. Trying it out in the office kitchen sink might not go so well.

Shopping in Japan on a shoestring

It never fails to amaze us how much stuff can be bought at 108 yen a pop. We feel like we’ve only scratched the surface. There are so many things we didn’t mention or take pics of.

Can Do’s online shop is for bulk buying. Let’s face it, the delivery comes to more than the items otherwise. But you can find 100-yen Japanese goods on many websites anyway. Once you’ve built up a tidy and affordable haul, we can probably help you with the international shipping.

 

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