Musings of a Gaijin MD

Life in Japan as a Foreign Doctor

Affordable Japan October 17, 2011

Filed under: Shopping — GaijinMD @ 9:17 AM
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清瀬 Kiyose-3: The Daiso (100 Yen Shop)

Image by abuckingham via Flickr

Japan is consistently ranked as having the most expensive cities in the world, and “affordable Japan” may seem like an oxymoron.  With the strong Japanese Yen currency, it can be quite costly.  One of the strategies to save money is to live like a Japanese instead of living like an American in Japan.

Another way is to shop at the 100 Yen (~$1.00) stores; the different companies include the 100 Yen Store, Daiso, and Seria.  These stores are as different from the American dollar stores as can be.  The variety and quality of the products are amazing (for the price)!  They carry everything from food, home improvement, arts & crafts, cleaning supplies, beauty supplies, pet supplies, office supplies, etc.  Whereas in America, the quality of the products can be questionable, the ones in Japan sometimes make one wonder how they “can” only sell for 100 Yen.

While many of the products are made in China, you can be lucky and find some made in Japan.  Even if the products are made in China though, quality control does a great job in making sure all the products are not shoddy/flimsy.

These stores are great fun, and you can easily browse for quite some time.  Don’t miss out!


Walmart on Steroids October 4, 2011

Filed under: Shopping — GaijinMD @ 10:49 PM
Don_Quijote_Akihabara_Shop Tokyo Japan

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever imagined what Walmart would be like if it were on steroids?  Well, Japan has answered that question with Don Quijote, or Don Ki.  While this store may not occupy as much square footage as Walmart, it carries a wide array of stuff, ranging from food (no produce or meat though), Halloween (and “other”) costumes, picnic supplies, souvenirs, designer purses, cleaning supplies, CD/DVD’s, electronics, etc.

All of the consumer goods are jam-packed into at least a 5-story building.  Being in the same vein as other Japanese marketing strategies, the place immediately overwhelms the shopper with bright, flashing lights and lots of noise.

It’s definitely a unique place that can be fun to roam and discover the various array of Japanese products.  Don’t miss it while you’re here!


Costco September 27, 2011

Filed under: Daily Life,Shopping — GaijinMD @ 10:47 PM
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Several weeks ago, some friends and I decided to make a trek out to Costco (and surprisingly yes, there are several branches in Japan).  Unfortunately, the 21 mile journey that would normally take half an hour, per GoogleMaps, took us 2 hours (each way) because of construction on the highway.

Speaking of highways, it also brings up the fact that in Japan, it seems like most of the highways are toll roads, and the toll was quite expensive.  The 10-15 miles that I was on the highway (each way) cost about $10 USD!

Anyways, after finally arriving, I happily stocked up on my Tide laundry detergent (oh, how I have missed thee); I just don’t think the Japanese brands that I’ve used are getting my clothes clean enough.  I’ve also been on the hunt for a Downy ball since arrival to Japan, but alas, no ball at Costco.

Faux Swiffer

Then, I was able to snag a faux Swiffer WetJet with a huge container of PineSol.  I’ve also not been able to find a similar product at typical Japanese stores.

I was also made very happy by my Nutella find, in addition to some caramel popcorn.

All in all, the Japanese Costco seemed to have the same type of items sold in the US.  They may not carry all of the same brands, but for each type of product (i.e. laundry detergent, cleaning solution, foods, etc), they usually had 1-2 US brands (and of course their Costco Kirkland brand) and several Japanese brands also.  They did have an optical and photo development departments.  I’m still not sure if they had an official pharmacy.

What I did find lacking was their Health and Beauty section.  It did not contain as many products or variety compared to the US (although one may argue that there are too many in the US to begin with).  They just had some shampoos and soaps and lotions.

Overall, it was a good trip, and I’m very happy to have gotten the above items.  Given the time to get there, however, it might be awhile until I make another trek.


Modern Torture Device? September 18, 2011

Filed under: Shopping — GaijinMD @ 10:51 PM

So, what think you about this Hannibal-esque object that I found at the store today?  (Can you even breathe with this thing on?)