Whenever I mention visiting Japan, the first thing that everyone says is always ooh, but isn’t it expensive? Right here & now, I’d like to bust that myth out of the water! Okay, the exchange rate isn’t what it once was (Y218 to £1… those were the days!), but if you know where to go then the fabulous world of Tokyo fashion & dining is by no mean off-limits.
(image from our telephoto gallery)
My main advice would be to do your homework – check sites like 109’s webshop to see if there are any sales running, or if you’re lucky there might even be fukubukuro (lucky packs); you can pick up a whole outfit of last-seasons stock for a fraction of the original retail price – be warned though, these go fast!
Why not consider going vintage? With branches across the city, Closet Child is great for second hand lolita and punk fashions, and the newly opened male-centric store in Shinjuku is well worth a visit for all aspiring gyaru-o! If you’re in the market for jewelery, then Book Off in Shibuya should be on your list. Take a gander at the magazines, manga and games on the upper floors, and head down to the basement to rummage through their clothes and cases full of pre-owned branded jewelery – everyone from Vivienne Westwood to Great Frog to Chrome Hearts.
If all this bargain shopping has worked up an appetite, stop off in Mr. Donut – with over a thousand cafes in Japan, you’re never far from a well-priced pastry, a good people-watching view and free coffee refills – our tip is to bagsy a seat before you order, it can get quite busy at peak times! If you’re in the market for a more substantial meal and have a fair understanding of the Japanese language, then pick up a copy of Hot Pepper: a free magazine that as well as coupons for hair extensions & manicures, also has restaurant offers too – I love it and always make sure have a copy stashed in my bag!
Arguably, it is the myth of Japan being an expensive country to visit that is inhibiting the growth of tourism from other countries. It is undoubtedly not as cheap as the rest of Asia, but for a predominantly middle-class country you can still live very well on a limited budget, and I hope this article has inspired the recessionista in all of us!
We’ll be going in to more depth on this subject at a later date, so keep your eyes open for more myth-busting!