Saturday, April 14, 2012

The 300 yen surprise

Today I was walking around Shibuya in Tokyo with Manila Group #4 out of my 39 visitors to Japan from Manila this April. We'd just had the best ramen in Shibuya and we were walking to Tokyu Hands to look for all these gadgets not available in Manila.

This was my nth visit to Tokyu Hands in two weeks as it seems everyone from Manila wants to go shopping here at least several times during their trip. But I'd never walked to Tokyu Hands from the station before; it was only because we'd gone to the ramen house that I walked this specific route today.

And what did I see along the way? A 300 yen shop!

100 YEN VS. 300 YEN

Japan is chock-full of 100 yen shops now and they're extremely popular with foreigners. Almost every Filipino I know who visits Japan wants to go to a 100 yen shop -- and I've seen how even Filipinos from the highest income brackets go in to the 100 yen shop with a blasé attitude but nevertheless come out with a couple of bags of stuff.

Each 100 yen shop is slightly different in terms of merchandising as well so it's not like you can say "I've been to one so it's like I've been to all." There's always something you'll find that you never knew you needed until you found it for only 50 pesos at the 100 yen shop.


But today I stumbled upon a 300 yen shop -- the very first I've seen and been to. Perhaps I'm just not browsing Tokyo's shopping districts too much, which is why I've never seen a 300 yen shop before; but I was very surprised to see this newly-opened shop in Shibuya, and I was sorry I hadn't discovered it sooner as I happen to know a handful of friends who would've so wanted to have come here last week.

What a surprisingly pleasant encounter the 300 yen store was. Maybe because the price point is higher, the goods are of a markedly higher quality than at the 100 yen store. I went through the shelves and I actually found lots of things I wanted to buy and that I wouldn't mind displaying at home.


It's a different feeling from the 100 yen store, where most of the goods really look cheap -- so you're bound to buy more utilitarian stuff at the 100 yen store, like paper clips, cabinet dividers or party favors to use at Christmas or at a kiddie birthday. However, many of the items do look like they cost more than 100 yen.

Meanwhile, the 300 yen store is really something of an upgrade vs the 100 yen store. But happily, it's still within the "bargains of Tokyo" category since, price-wise, 300 yen is still within that psychological price point that allows you to buy stuff at a whim. That's why the store's formal name is "3 Coins," meaning you only need three 100 yen coins to purchase each item.

So today, I bought a scarf hanger, a rolling leg massager, teddy bear toothbrushes and a vanity tray. Did I really need these? I'll let you know in a couple of days...


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