Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Japanese Drug Stores

Many of my friends like going to Japan to shop. Especially my friends from Hong Kong.

Here is a brief summary of what they say you should buy :
  • Burberry Blue Label (Unique to Japan, although you can find some parallel imports in Hong Kong)
  • Agnes b. (Much cheaper and they sometimes have items only for the Japanese market)
  • Shoes (all department stores. Buy those "Made-in-Japan" ones - the design and quality is good)
  • Selected factory outlets are very good, especially a very large one near Tokyo
  • Uniqlo and Muji (for their Made-in-Japan/ Available-in-Japan items)

I would just say you should make sure you go visit a Japanese drug store. Chances are you'd end up visiting several, like I always do.

Japanese drug stores sell a lot more than medication. Many of them devote a very large section to beauty products and cosmetics. Some even sell snacks. "Matsumoto Kiyoshi", "Kokumin" and "Sundrug" are major drug store chains.. but you'd find also many smaller ones in most cities.

It is the beauty products and cosmetics section that attracts me to the drug stores. Many beauty products and cosmetics are launched in Japan first before exporting to other countries, if at all.

Think SKII's claims to renew your skin in 28 days (or something) fantastic? Apparently there are products that can now renew your skin in just 20 days (or similar) found in Japanese drug stores.. at a fraction of the price of a bottle of SKII.

For me, going into a Japanese drug store is like stepping into a huge candy store when I was a child. There seemed to be an endless array of products and choices available. Deciding on what to bring home to try is most difficult.

I could usually stay in a single store for a long time, trying to pick out stuff to bring back home.

The better stores usually mark out their best sellers, though you have to be able to read some Japanese to understand the signs.. or else some Mandarin and guess work would also do at times.. Those are usually good to buy back home to try. Or you can also do some research online before going - this website (which I know also has a shop in Shinjuku) ranks the most popular items in various categories, including beauty products like facial products, bath products etc.

My spoils from Japanese drug stores..

And for those who are into buying vitamins and medicine to stock up at home.. Japanese drug stores have an amazing collection.. but you'd probably need a bit of Japanese to help you out there.

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