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The Best Time For Shopping in Japan – Tips and Tricks For Saving Yen

The Best Time For Shopping in Japan – Tips and Tricks For Saving Yen

Japan has a reputation for being an expensive place to live. But if you know when to shop, you’ll be able to plan your purchases and save some serious yen. Here’s a handy Japanese shopping calendar that’s useful for both residents and travelers. Be sure to bookmark it!

January

The first month of the new year is the time for hatsu uri (初売り) the first sale of the year and fukubukuro (福袋) lucky bags.

Starting from January 1st and stretching throughout the entire month is a period of deep discounts where you ‘ll be able to pick up any and everything you desire.

February — March

April is the start of the Japanese school year, and the beginning of the fiscal year. This month is a period of new beginnings, signaled by the blossoming of sakura (桜 cherry blossoms). Students will be living on their own for the first time, as college students or new grads. Company workers will be promoted or transferred.

Image source

Because of these lifestyle changes, February — March is a great time to furnish your home, remodel your kitchen, and buy new appliances and kitchen gadgets. You can even find bundles of home appliances (for example: refrigerator + washing machine + vacuum cleaner) packaged at an attractive price. These are known as “new lifestyle sales:” 新生活セール (shin seikatsu se-ru) or 新生活応援セール (shin seikatsu ouen se-ru).

Bic Camera and Yamada Denki have already updated their homepages with the latest info on 2018’s “new lifestyle sales”  (links in Japanese).

For more tips on furnishing your home, remodeling your kitchen, buying the latest household appliances and kitchen gadgets, head to Best Living Japan`s recommended Home & Garden posts.

March

If you’re looking to purchase a new car, March is the month to do it! It all comes down to the “new lifestyle sales” where people prepare for their new role as students company workers or parents who need to shuttle kids back and forth from school and afterschool activities.

From late February onward is when car dealerships hurry to make quotas for the end of the fiscal year and also when dealerships get new models from manufacturers.

If you’re unsure about purchasing a car this year, we’ve written guides on how to use car sharing with the popular car share companies ORIX and CARECO.

May

During Golden Week, the long stretch of public holidays that runs from late April to the first week, many Japanese take to the skies or hit the road traveling. As a result, you can find many spring sales during Golden Week.

If you’re traveling within Japan during this period, be sure to check out an outlet mall for deep discounts on your favorite brands. For those in Tokyo during Golden Week, be sure to check out our  Top Recommended Tokyo Baby Kids Clothing Stores.

*** The Best Time For Shopping in Japan – Tips and Tricks For Saving Yen ***

August

Beat the summer heat by doing some shopping at your nearest department store. From late July onwards, department stores slash prices by 20% to 60%.

If you want to save more (who doesn’t?), postpone your shopping to the end of the sale period. End of summer sales are a way for stores to get rid of excess inventory so they can put in fall-winter merchandise. If you have little ones, use these clearance sales as an opportunity to stock up for their growth spurt.

September — October — November

Even if you’re not a sports fan, it’s time to pick a favorite Japanese baseball team. That’s because baseball teams in Japan are backed by companies who pass on savings to customers when the team wins a game. This is known as a “victory sale” (優勝セール yuushou se-ru). These sales are often regional and for a limited time.

For example, Rakuten customers can get bonus points after Rakuten Eagles win a game. Another example is in 2017, when the Softbank Hawks won the Pacific League Series, Yahoo Shopping customers were eligible for bonus points, while department stores across Kyushu had a special sales period.

Rakuten Eagles Campaign Page on Rakuten Shopping (link in Japanese only)

Softbank Hawks Campaign Page on Yahoo Shopping (link in Japanese only)

December

The year of sales wraps up with “end of the year sales” (年末セール, nenmatsu se-ru). This is great time to shop if you want to beat the fukubukuro and hatsu uri rush.

In recent years, retailers of popular fukubukuros (e.g. Starbucks, Kaldi, Bic Camera) have resorted to online pre-sale lotteries to ensure that fukubukuro are fairly purchased. These pre-sales often occur in mid-December, so you’ll want to watch out for the registration period!

*** The Best Time For Shopping in Japan – Tips and Tricks For Saving Yen ***

Save Even More Yen With These Tips

Grocery shop a few hours before closing


This tried and true tip will help you snag deals and save plenty of yen. Simply hit up your local supermarket from 4pm, when the 値引き(nebiki) stickers come out. Be on the lookout for 割引 (– waribiki, — percent off) 半額 (hangaku, 50% off) stickers, but act fast– the early bird catches the worm! Or in this case, dinner!

Bonus Barai ボーナス払い
Those of you with Japan issued credit cards can take advantage of bonus barai. It’s a form of payment that allows customers to purchase big ticket items and schedule payment to coincide with workers’ summer and winter bonus.

Generally speaking, summer bonus (夏のボーナス natsu no bo-nasu) purchases made from mid-December to mid-June will be billed to your August statement. Likewise, for winter bonus (冬のボーナス fuyu no bo-nasu), purchases made between mid-July to mid-November will be listed on your January statement.

Periods vary between credit cards companies, so be sure to check. Don’t forget to mention at the cashier, “Bonasu barai de” (ボーナス払い).

*** The Best Time For Shopping in Japan – Tips and Tricks For Saving Yen ***

How to Get Discounts and Freebies

Haggling (値切りnegiri) is often frowned upon, though there are times when it’s perfectly acceptable to ask to discounts (値引き nebiki) or freebies (サービス sa-bisu) when shopping in Japan. When making big ticket purchases — anything from jewelry, household appliances, vehicles, property- don’t be afraid to push your luck and ask!

Jewelry
Whether you’re buying an engagement ring, wedding bands, sweet 16 or Coming of Age day (成人の seijin no hi) bling, some jewellers may be open to helping you reach a deal. Perhaps you can score free cleaning, cleaning cloths/products, an extended warranty, or insurance.

Electronics/Appliances
When outfitting your home with the latest gadgets, you’ll have better success when buying several items at once, such as a new aircon, washing machine, and conventional oven. If you’re unable to get a discount, ask for free shipping, installation, or free filters/accessoires.

Vehicles
Be honest about your budget and get straight to the point. Ask for an extended warranty, accessories or upgrades, free installation, or free oil changes.

Property/Rentals
Sellers may be able to meet your desired price or perhaps you can score new flooring or tatami mats, or even the display furniture. Even if you’re not buying you may be able to negotiate terms of your rental contract, add in an aircon, or reduce the contract renewal fees.

*** The Best Time For Shopping in Japan – Tips and Tricks For Saving Yen ***

Words to know

Is it possible to get this cheaper?
Yasuku shite kuremasen ka?
安くしてくれませんか?

It’s a bit out of my budget…
Chotto takain desukedo…
ちょっと高いんですけど

Could you throw in —?
— wo sabisu shite kuremasen ka?
— をサービスしてくれませんか?

Have any shopping tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Check out our other posts on shopping in Japan:

Fukubukuro Lucky Bags in Japan – 10 Tips for Smooth Shopping

Top 10 Tokyo Shops for Japanese Gifts

Top 10 Tokyo Toy Stores – Domestic to Import Brands We Have You Covered

Greater Tokyo Area Outlet Centers -10 Day Trip Outlets

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The Best Time For Shopping in Japan – Tips and Tricks For Saving Yen

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Written by: Teni Wada. American by birth, Japanese by choice, and traveler at heart. Tokyo-based content creator who enjoys browsing combini shelves for limited edition drinks and snacks. Discover her travel adventures and life as a first-time mom on her lifestyle blog babykaiju.com and Instagram @wadateni.

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