I spent another month in Japan this year and discovered more cool things to buy in that wonderful country. Two developments make shopping this year better than last year:
(1) The yen has dropped in value against the US dollar (in October 2013 it was around 95 yen to the US dollar; in October 2014, it was around 109 yen to the US dollar); and
(2) Tax-free shopping has been extended to cosmetics and other perishables such as food and drink. Bring your passport to the department store. In most cases you have to spend a minimum of 10,000 yen in one day.
Here are my 2014 top things to buy in Japan.
(1) Porter Union backpack (shopping bag style as shown below).
Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku has a huge selection of Porter bags (made by Yoshida & Co.). I love these bags because they’re stylish and reasonably priced (under US$130). This is an excellent backpack for people who don’t want to look like they’re carrying a school backpack. If you don’t want to carry it on your back, it doubles as a tote bag. I’m a huge fan of Porter bags and I don’t understand why you don’t see them so much outside Japan. Great design, great quality, reasonable price.
(2) Kontex Imabari Towels
These are the most absorbent bath towels I have ever owned in my life. Better yet, they’re lightweight and thin, but they get you dry in seconds. Kontex towels don’t take up a lot of space in your washer and dryer or in your closet, unlike those big thick heavy towels. They’re beautiful and inexpensive. I bought my Kontex towels at Isetan in Shinjuku (Tokyo). Next time I go to Japan I might just take a train to the town of Imabari where Kontex makes these towels and buy a pile of them for bath and kitchen.
(3) Shoyeido incense
I went to the atmospheric Shoyeido store in Aoyama (Tokyo) and wanted to buy every kind of incense they had. They sell exquisite incense holders, too. If you want to take home presents for yourself and others, nothing beats incense and incense holders because they’re small and lightweight. The main store of Shoyeido is in Kyoto.
(4) Vintage fountain pens
If you are looking for vintage fountain pens, the place to go in Tokyo is Eurobox. It’s a bit difficult to find because it’s hidden in an old building on a side street in the Ginza district. Fountain pen collectors from many countries go to Eurobox because of the amazing selection and the reasonable prices. Mr. Eizo Fujii, the owner, speaks English. He carries Japanese, American and European vintage fountain pens.
Eurobox is located at:
Okuno Building 4F
1-9-8 407 Ginza
Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
Hours: Thursday: 11:30-19:00 and Saturday: 11:30-18:00 (best to call to make sure)
Phone: 03 3538 8388
(5) Shiseido Maquillage True Powdery UV Foundation
If you have even slightly oily skin and large pores, this powder foundation from Shiseido’s Maquillage line is all you need. For once, the advertising copy does not lie: they say it hides large pores and looks fresh for hours and it does! When I bought this foundation, it came in a special package with a small tube of the Maquillage Perfect Multibase BB cream and the sales woman instructed me to wear the powder foundation on top of the BB cream for maximum effect. It was quite miraculous. My pores disappeared, my skin looked even-toned, but natural. It does not feel heavy at all. You can buy Shiseido Maquillage products from drugstores all over Japan.
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See the 2013 Top Cool Things to Buy in Japan.
For a short primer on cosmetics shopping in Japan, read my post about Lunasol products and shopping for makeup.