My Frugal Japan Shopping Haul: 17 Things I Bought

This is not a post recommending you what to buy in Japan.

This is a post to share what *I* bought in Japan, as a fairly frugal person 😀

Shopping frugal in Japan

Some information to start with:

  • I’ve been to Japan a few times. So these are not ‘classic’ souvenirs per se. In fact you’ll see a lot of normal everyday things that are simply sold for cheaper in Japan. You’ll also see quite a lot of food ingredients and products
  • I care about eating as halal as possible, but I do close one eye when it comes to cooking alcohol
  • Practical stuff > decorative stuff

If you’re looking for Japan travel savings tips, check out the 4D3N Japan for RM2500 (Osaka+Kyoto) instead. Most tips are not specific to Osaka+Kyoto.

The 17 things I bought in Japan

In no particular order…

frugal japan shopping haul

#1 – Various discounted (and non-discounted) supermarket food – varies

From: The supermarket

Why I bought it:

  • To save money on food

Value for money: 5/5. The supermarkets will start discounting their food items at around 7pm, depending on location and policies. I was happy to get the yellow peaches in this particular haul – it was delicious eaten with yogurt as breakfast!

I highly recommend food from Japanese supermarkets, discounts or no. They have so much variety. The below video is ONE section out of at least six counters in one of the supermarkets I visited.

 

frugal japan shopping haul

#2 – A purse – 1000 yen (after discount) (~RM38)

From: A shop at Nagoya Centrair Airport

Why I bought it:

  • It was 50% off..

Value for money: 3/5. Did I want it? Yes. Did I *need* it? No. This was an impulse buy.

frugal japan shopping haul

#3 – Lululun mask – 1500 yen (~RM57)

From: Don Quijote

Why I bought it:

  • Big fan of Lululun masks and have never tried the power mask variety pack before!

Value for money: 2/5. 1500 yen for 10 masks is kind of steep (for me). There are other cheaper Lululun masks (see #17). I’m a sucker for variety.

frugal japan shopping haul

#4 – Red miso from Nagoya – 600 yen (~RM23)

From: The supermarket

Why I bought it:

  • Nagoya is famous for its red miso, which is a local product that barely gets exported. The ones that you see are mostly black or white miso.

Value for money: 5/5. My host mum saw me put this in the shopping basket and bought it for me as a gift. Now this taste will remind me of her too, and sentimental value is priceless.

#5 – Kishimen pack – 600 yen (~RM23)

From: The supermarket

Why I bought it:

  • I’ve never tried kishimen (I’m told it’s like udon, but different shape)
  • The pack includes 3 x servings of kishimen and easy-to-make red miso broth pack
  • No meat (I got my host mum to check)

Value for money: 5/5. It’s a Nagoya speciality item at such an affordable price. Packaging is cute, too.

frugal japan shopping haul

#6 – Curry packs – ~700 yen for both (~RM27)

From: The supermarket

Why I bought it:

  • I like Japanese curry rice, but I can’t eat most of them because they have meat in them!
  • These two packs – kaki (oysters) and yasai (vegetable) are the ONLY two meat-free curry packs in the whole curry aisle. My poor host mum went over all of the selection (there must be over 50 varieties!).

Value for money: 5/5. I’ll take whatever meat-free product I can get. Plus the oysters one is a speciality product from Hiroshima.

frugal japan shopping haulfrugal japan shopping haul

#7 – Various senbei – 1000 yen for all (~RM38)

From: The supermarket

Why I bought it:

  • I like keropok

Value for money: 3/5. Low marks because you’d think squid and prawn senbei would be meat-free right? Nope. It was surprisingly hard to find varieties which don’t include chicken or pork extract! In the end I added premium gobou (burdock root)and shiso senbei into the mix.

frugal japan shopping haul

#8 – Powdered matcha – 600 yen (~RM23)

From: The supermarket

Why I bought it:

  • Love matcha flavour

Value for money: ?/5. Not sure how much they’re sold in Malaysia.

frugal japan shopping haul

#9 – Nori pack – 300 yen (~RM11)

From: The supermarket

Why I bought it:

  • The nori pack in this jar seems like a better alternative to the nori packs in the individual plastic wraps.

Value for money: 5/5 because less plastic waste

frugal japan shopping haul

#10 – A foldable umbrella – 1000 yen (~RM38)

From: Don Quijote, the discount chain store.

Why I bought it:

  • Needed to replace my existing umbrella, which is getting wonky (I always carry one with me as I use public transportation often)
  • The slim design barely takes up space in my bag
  • Very light

Value for money: 4/5. Japanese umbrellas tend to be really good, and these are cheap even by Japan standards. Reduce one star because I saw the same one (though different colour) being sold at Narita airport for cheaper at 780 yen.

frugal japan shopping haul

#11 – A pack of 3 Nike ankle socks – 1000 yen (~RM38)

From: Don Quijote

Why I bought it:

  • It was time to replace my 3-year old socks

Value for money: 5/5. Before I bought this, I did a quick search for Nike socks sold in Malaysia. They are at least RM55 for 3 pairs or something like that. I love getting good products that I need anyway for cheaper <3

frugal japan shopping haul

#12 – Bedsheets (not pictured), towel and pillowcases -5000 yen (~RM190)

From: MUJI

Why I bought it:

  • Coincidentally all of them are on sale! I got them at 15-50% normal price

Value for money: 5/5. MUJI’s stuff is good.

frugal japan shopping haul

#13 Glowsticks (pack of 10) – 1000 yen each (~RM38)

From: Don Quijote

Why I bought it:

  • For a friend, who loves this thing and uses them in performances. She usually gets her glowsticks from Daiso, so at RM3.80 per stick this is good value for money

Value for money: N/A She’s paying me back

frugal japan shopping haul

#14 Cool refresh sheet – 500 yen each (~RM19)

From: Don Quijote

Why I bought it:

  • For mom, who suffers from swelling and discomfort on her right wrist. This thing helps to cool down the swelling

Value for money: N/A

frugal japan shopping haul

#15 Pokemon-shaped nori – 150 yen (~RM6)

From: The supermarket

Why I bought it:

  • So cute <3

Value for money: 5/5. Super affordable and would make a cool gift to Pokemon fans too!

frugal japan shopping haul

#16 Steam eye masks- 500 yen each (~RM19 each)

From: Drug store

Why I bought it:

  • As souvenirs. I got 5 different versions: Menthol, yuzu, lavender, chamomile and unscented (I think)

Value for money: 3/5. I thought it was unique and can only be bought in Japan, but I found out Watson sells it too, boo. And the price is similar too, so no cost savings there.

frugal japan shopping haul

#17 Sheet masks – 300-500 yen per pack of 5-7 masks (~RM11-19 each)

From: Don Quijote

Why I bought it:

  • As souvenir for my sisters

Value for money: 5/5. Super affordable for good-quality sheet masks! At least I think they’re good – many of them say they got ‘No 1’ awards on the pack.

Last words

I have to admit that this article idea almost didn’t make it. I wasn’t particularly keen to share what I bought in Japan, simply because *I* thought they were not that special. Then I asked Twitter and surprisingly, there was demand, so here it is.

I’m not… embarrassed for being a frugal shopper. I don’t mind admitting that my favourite places to shop while in Japan were:

  • Don Quijote – discount chain store
  • Daiso / Other 100-yen shops
  • Supermarkets like AEON
  • Book Off/ Hard Off / etc – Recycling/secondhand shops
  • And similar places
frugal japan shopping haul
Don Quijote, Halloween edition

Hey my fellow frugal shoppers. What do YOU tend to buy on your travels? I’m really curious to know what item (not experience) that you decided was value for money. Can you comment and share them?

Author

15 comments

  1. Ah, Japan. My most favourite county in Asia!!! Just sharing, my husband and I went to Tokyo last September. But instead of buying cheap items, we did it the other way around which was cutting cost on food and transportation (because their subway to one place to another can be costly @@). Food, not like buying food from FamilyMart, 7E etc. We ate at an authentic japanese food restaurant (provided with menu in English) and really, we saved a lot. We always spent about 2000yen~3000yen for lunch and dinner a day (cost for 2. Breakfast we had to buy from 7E or FamilyMart because we started our day quite early in the morning) and we even walked a lot. One time we walked almost 7km to Shinjuku from Shinagawa. But it was worth it because we got to see people’s home backyard, cute cats roaming around sangat sombong, gardens etc. We walked a lot and it saved us soooo much.

    My husband and I, when we’re travelling, we’re quite liberal on food and don’t really mind i.e. as long as what we eat is not pork, beef or chicken, as long as what we eat is seafood we use the concept as okaylah, tawakal je untuk alas perut 😅 we did eat at Halal restaurants too but the price was so expensive so we only ate once or twice in the one week we were there.

    When we shopped for items or souvenirs in Japan, we didn’t restrict ourselves because it was our first time there. To name a few, we bought wireless earphones at Akihabara (spent about 10k yen), toys for our nephews and nieces (about 20k yen), souvenirs for our family. Since I am fascinated with yokai, I spent around 20k yen for books about yokai at Kinokuniya while my husband bought NMD adidas for himself. There were a lot more but I can’t remember 😂

    So yeah, maybe because it was our first time there hence no restrictions for shopping haha I wanna go there again next time. Maybe we should try looking for cheap items next time we go there.

    By the way, thanks for sharing! And yessss Don Quijote ftw!

    1. Oh wait, I meant 2000yen ~ 3000yen yen for a week trip! (typing this while in office, not a goooood idea!). That amount for a day is horrendous!@@

      1. Eh I just checked my expense tracker during my trip and what I wrote earlier is correct tho. LOL sorry. hope you can delete this comment, and the comment below the initial one. Yep, I did spent around 2000yen ~ 3000yen per day. Doesn’t make sense that amount per week in Japan!

        1. HAHAHHAHAHAH

          Takpe takpe no need to delete anything, the reading part is enjoyable lol

          Thanks for sharing your experience! And yes Don Quijote is awesome! I forgot to mention this, but the bigger branches have tax-free counters – no need to pay the 8% (soon to be 10%) sales tax!

          1. Yeahhh!! Tax free is awesome!! But does this include luxury goods too?? And do you know if the branded stuff sold at Don Quijote are authentic? I was thinking of buying some and sell back in Malaysia #sidehustle but I don’t know what’s the retail price for authentic so don’t know if they are worth it.

          2. Yes they are authentic! I guess you can quickly check the resale price in Carousell or something before checking if they’re worth buying to sell back?

  2. Back in the days, I used to fill up luggages with shopping hauls, but I have stopped doing that. Everything (well, almost) is now available in Malaysia or can be bought online from overseas. I recently went on a 2 weeks trip with a 10kg luggage and came back with 12kg, gone are the days of filling up the luggage to the maximum 25kg 🙂 Family/friends used to go ooh ahh over the souvenirs, but now that everyone gets to travel, souvenirs has lost the novelty. Now I just get some small trinkets as impulse buys, and some snacks/chocs(that hopefully not available in Malaysia) for the family/friends.

    1. Hey K,

      Sorry, missed your reply!

      Well I guess it’s good that your friends and family don’t expect souvenirs, unlike many others (cough my family cough) rofl

  3. Went for solo travel for 3 weeks back nov 2014 where the currency 100yen = rm3. Covered osaka, kyoto, hiroshima and tokyo. I spent rm3000 plus for everything including air tickets, accomodation etc. Stayed at hostel which was great experience for me. For those who wish to stay budget hotel i recommend toyoko inn. I registered as member and entitle for 20% discount for public holiday and sat or sun(?). Trains in japan can be very expensive so i chose to rent bicycle in Kyoto for 500 yen for whole day! The worth things i spent in japan would be FOOD and 100 yen shop haha. And also try their GU fashion outlet its everywhere. Cheaper than uniqlo and quality similar to uniqlo. There are alot of so called tips i would like to share but long list hahaha

    1. 3 weeks for RM3000??? That is amazing, good job on the budgeting! And amazing currency rates during that time!

      Share la those tips 😀 Do it for the karma <3

  4. When we travel, we always make it a point to go to flea markets or carboot sales. In UK, we will tend to hunt for china (those makcik2 bawang like such as Royal Doulton or johnson bros) and good toys that would otherwise be expensive in here. Somehow only Japan we didnt go to any flea markets, wonder if they have them?

    Besides UK, if going to Seoul, recommend going to Seocho flea market for bargain hunters. We bought 2 pairs of good Nike shoes for about RM 30 each.

    In US, they are famous for their shopping outlets kan. I heard that some tend to be at the outskirts and will pass thru villages n all..the reason is that so people who go there will spend more to justify their long travel (maybe besides bringing up the economy of the place i guess).

    Anyway, was a good write-up. Will use this when going to japan to try out interesting /curious foodstuffs. At least i know its vetted by your host haha

    1. Hi Diba,

      Good point! I love checking out flea markets when I travel too! The ones in UK are awesome! Japan don’t really have a flea market culture (as far as I know), but they do have lots of secondhand stores.

      Thanks for swinging by 🙂

      p/s – Cool website you have there at https://ringgitvelvet.com/! I’ve added to the list of recommended personal finance websites in Malaysia page 🙂 https://ringgitohringgit.com/recommended-personal-finance-websites-in-malaysia/

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