shopping

Regionally themed cat socks are insanely cute, great souvenirs, even educational

I love socks. Not your boring old gym socks and stockings, though. I like ’em bright and patterned, the more obnoxiously the better. If it doesn’t look like something a child should be wearing, I’ll pass.

Two other things I love are Japan and cats, so you’ll understand why my squees of delight filled the aisles of popular bargain chain 3 Coins when I spotted this huge rack of cat socks with designs inspired by each of Japan’s 42 prefectures and regions. 

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Honesty experiment in China ends with losses of 20 percent for participating convenience stores

Two stores in China trialled unstaffed shops this week, in an experiment to see whether customers would pay up without being prompted.

Convenience stores in Beijing and Hangzhou were temporarily replaced with automated payment systems and advertised as “completely unstaffed”. Sadly, the experiment was not an unqualified success. While most customers proved to be honest, some chose to pay only a fraction of their bill, and in some case nothing at all.

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Samsung invented a crazy mirror that can show you how clothing looks on you before you buy

In the future, Samsung wants your mirror to act as a virtual fitting room.

At an event in Hong Kong, the company unveiled a new type of mirror that also functions as a screen with cameras inside.

The mirror would likely be aimed at retail stores, enabling shoppers to potentially view information about the product they’re trying on or digitally try on items before they purchase them.

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The remarkable art of giving and receiving change in Japan

If you’re tired of receiving vacant smiles and flippant customer service at your local grocery store, you may want to make a trip to Japan, where the customer always comes first and every transaction is concluded with a graceful bow.

This remarkable attention to customer service even extends to the handling of cash transactions in shops around the country. Akin to an art form, a simple payment to a store clerk in Japan will inevitably set off a series of steps and precise movements to satisfy the needs of both parties and respectively complete the exchange. Come with us as we take you through the steps of a simple transaction in Japan. The attention to detail and the clever reasons for it will surprise you.

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10 of the craziest complaints Japanese people have heard from customers

Anyone who’s worked in a store, restaurant, or pretty much anywhere in the service industry knows the joy of interacting with customers. And it’s not just your country that has crazy customers, it’s a fact of humanity that transcends culture and language, Japan included.

So with that we bring you the top 10 tweets made with a hashtag that’s recently been getting very popular with Japanese twitter users: #ActualCustomerComplaints. We’re not 100-percent sure how true the “actual” part is, but they’re all so hilarious and painfully familiar that you’ll be too busy laughing and commiserating to mind.

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Glassware for dining at the V? Panty-clad cups selling fast 【Photos】

Sometimes a story comes across your desk that is so wacko, you just sit and stare at it for ages trying to wrap your brain around it. That happened to me this morning when I saw that an unusual item at the built-to-order site Dwango.jp was selling fast. That item? Hand-blown panty-wearing drinking glasses at a whopping 8,640 yen (US$72.12) a pop.

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Tokyo, Osaka limited Gintama shops to sell limited edition merch for a limited time

In honor of the return of historical-sci-fi-comedy anime Gintama to television screens across Japan, Namco announced the opening of three shops in Tokyo and Osaka starting on April 18.

The limited-time shops will be selling both limited Gintama merchandise as well as some super-limited items. Yes, it’s a collector’s dream and a civil-rights enthusiast’s nightmare as there are so many limitations to these stores you’d think you’d lost a few of your inalienable rights in the process!

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Anna Sui jumps into the world of Sailor Moon fashion with necklaces, earrings, and bags

Today, Tokyo’s Isetan is welcoming back Sailor Moon and her magical gal pals. From now until March 31, the department store chain’s Shinjuku branch is offering a special lineup of fashion items based on the hit anime. Previously, we’ve looked at the new offerings from Samantha Vega, Honey Bunch, and Riccimie Premiere Salon, all popular Japanese brands.

Now, Anna Sui is getting in on the moon prism action, with a selection of coolly feminine bags and accessories inspired by the Sailor Senshi.

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Ninja Slayer wants to turn you into ninjas – 12 step process, no training required    

If there’s still a ninja-shaped hole in your heart where the recently climaxing Naruto used to be, perhaps we can interest you in some sci-fi cyberpunk ninjas?

With a new anime set to start streaming on April 16, the people behind Ninja Slayer want everyone to release their inner warrior, and they’ve got some shiny new merchandise to help you get in the mood. And if you happen to have lost your entire family to a ninja turf war recently, you too can become a ninja slayer! Find out how after the jump.

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We visit the brand-new Disney store for grown-up women in Tokyo’s Harajuku 【Photos】

Disney’s elegant princesses and cute characters have earned them legions of fans around the world. In Japan, adults of all ages are smitten, unashamedly saving up for specially branded clothing and accessories, and using precious vacation time for day trips to Tokyo Disneyland.

This love for all things Disney has resulted in three stores exclusive to Japan that cater directly to the adult market. Fukuoka and Chiba have each been blessed with a unique branch of their own, but it’s the newly opened store in Tokyo’s Harajuku, the birthplace of kawaii culture, that really sets out to impress.

Come with us as we take you through the store, with its pretty princess accents and attractive displays filled with bags, jewellery, smartphone accessories and more.

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Spiral escalators may be even more stylish than clothes at Japanese department store in Shanghai

There’s definitely an elegance to a spiral staircase, and you could argue that an opulent shopping palace is just the place to install one, letting your customers feel stylish and sophisticated even as they move from one floor to the next. However, they won’t feel so glamorous if they’re panting for breath after walking to the top of an eight-story building.

That’s why for its new Shanghai branch, this Japanese department store decided to install spiral escalators, which it’s claiming are the longest of their type in the world.

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Don’t know whether to buy diamonds or candy for White Day? Sweet Jewels could be just the trick!

On White Day, an unabashedly commercial holiday on March 14, Japanese men are expected to buy presents in return for the chocolate they received on equally commercial holiday Valentine’s Day. And with a recent survey showing that limited-edition desserts and sweets are top of women’s wish-lists for White Day, this new offering from confectioner Ameya Eitaro could tick all the boxes.

With designs based on real diamond cuts such as the Koh-i-Noor and the Pasha of Egypt, these are one sweet treat that certainly looks expensive.

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What do Japanese women want for White Day and how much do they hope a guy spends?

With the exception of the girls at a few high schools with especially generous male student bodies, women don’t usually receive presents for Valentine’s Day in Japan. Instead, it’s the guys who get gifts, returning the favor one month later on March 14, White Day.

But while guys’ Valentine’s Day aspirations are pretty standardized (just about everyone wants homemade chocolate), the options are a little more flexible for White Day. A recent survey asked Japanese women just what they hope to receive, and how much they envision guys spending.

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Make your mark: Personalize gift bags, notebooks and more with free Muji stamp station

Here in Japan, most shops will do gift wrapping for free. It’s a very thoughtful and convenient service, but although they usually do a very nice job of it, it lacks a certain personal touch.

Popular lifestyle goods shop Muji may have the answer: gift bags that you can customize with a set of free and easy-to-use stamps. And the fun doesn’t stop there. Let’s take a look!

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Disney Store is all grown up with new branch designed for adult women opening in Tokyo

Disney enjoys broad popularity with Japanese children, with tykes across the nation regularly getting excited for the studio’s animated films and begging their parents to take them to Tokyo Disneyland. This isn’t a recent development, though. Disney’s been a hit with kids for decades now, and while the age of many fans who grew up watching Mickey, Minnie, and their pals has changed, that doesn’t mean their love for the cartoon characters has.

That’s why this spring a new branch of the Disney Store is opening up in Tokyo, and while the staff won’t be turning away little girls at the door, it’s really being designed for adult women.

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Travel Japan without leaving the capital at Tokyo’s best prefectural satellite shops

When it comes to regional cuisines, Japan has a lot to offer. But what if you are short on time and can’t make it to far-flung parts of the archipelago to sample artisan cheeses or gut-burning awamori? Not to worry, you can get a taste of most prefectures in the heart of Tokyo at so-called satellite shops, supermarkets which specialize in food and products from a particular region.

We’ve picked out five of our favorites for you to enjoy, with a not-to-be-missed item from each.

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Tokyo’s cheapest shoe chain and 10 pairs of kicks that cost less than 10 bucks each

Whether you’re coming to Japan as a tourist or a new resident, getting into the island nation usually means taking a plane. With luggage space at a premium, odds are you haven’t packed more than two or three pairs of shoes, which is fine for a running start in the country. With all the walking involved in public-transportation-embracing Japan, though, wear and tear are going to set in before long, and you’ll find yourself in need of a new pair of kicks.

Odds are, though, that you didn’t come all the way to Japan to blow your travel budget on new shoes. If you’re just getting started as a working professional here, you’re probably also a little light on cash. So to keep your feet comfortable, outfit stylish, and wallet happy, today we’re taking a trip to one of Tokyo’s best-kept secret bargains, the Tokyo Shoe Distribution Center, to pick up a selection of footwear at less than 990 yen (US$8.40) per pair.

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Up all night to get lucky…bags at Apple stores across Japan

The New Year is obviously a major holiday in Japan, and that means sales at every store. In addition to discounted products, the beginning of January sees many stores also offering grab bags, most often called “lucky bags,” a direct translation of 福袋 (fukubukuro), in Japan.

Of course, some of the most sought-after lucky bags in Japan are those from Apple. In fact, if you want to grab one of Apple’s lucky bags, now might be a good time to buy a sleeping bag and some snacks, because you’ll probably be camping out over night!

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Too busy to wrap Christmas presents? Not if you’ve got 12 seconds, Japanese store shows【Video】

I honestly don’t remember the last time I wrapped a Christmas present. Due to a lack of time during the busy period at the end of the year, plus a lack of manual dexterity during…my life in general…I usually just put everyone’s presents into a gift bag.

However, if you want to give someone the gift of satisfaction that can only come from tearing through some festively patterned paper, and you’re got more aptitude for arts and crafts than me (trust me, you do), there’s no need to let your hectic schedule stop you, as this video shows you how to wrap a present in just 12 seconds.

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Super generous Japanese megastore keeps boxes of change at register for you to use

I’ve never really understood the rationale behind the name of the Japanese discount megastore chain Don Quijote. Tweaked spelling aside, it’s clearly supposed to be a reference to the character from the 16th century Miguel de Cervantes novel, but what does a mentally imbalanced would-be knight errant have to do with rock bottom prices, chaotic store layouts with hand-drawn signs everywhere, and a corporate mascot who’s a penguin wearing a Santa cap?

Maybe it’s got something to do with the word “quixotic,” which describes a humorously strong commitment to lofty ideals and helpfulness. Actually, that would be a pretty apt description of one of the store’s most unique policies: keeping a box of change at the register for customers to grab coins out of and use when paying for their purchases.

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