Updated: Nov 13
If you are a nut for the Dollar Tree like I am, then you know that dollar stores can be a gold mine for cheap toys and things for every day life. Some dollar stores are a flat fee of $1 for everything, and others offer a range of prices not typically exceeding $5 or $10. After shelling out literally close to $12,000 for a family trip to Japan this year, one could certainly worry about the price tag on taking home souvenirs, so I had to be frugal. Luckily, Japan is full of shops called 100 Yen Stores to save the day.
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What Is a 100 Yen Store?
Like the United States' dollar stores, a 100 Yen Store is essentially just that - a place full of all sorts of wares all for the low low price of 100 Yen.
At the time of this writing, 100 Yen = 73 cents (USD). That's LESS than a dollar for all the "unmarked" things in the store.
The Dollar Tree has recently raised their prices from $1 to $1.25, so to find thousands of items in these 100 Yen Shops for less than $1 is mindblowing.
What Is the Difference Between a 100 Yen Shop and The Dollar Store?
The major difference between the 100 yen stores and the dollar stores at home is the quality of the products. Typically at home in the US dollar stores offer shabbier goods. The toys are great but can often be like cracker jack prizes or happy meal toys.
There is nothing particularly "American" about the goods at American dollar stores, either. At the Japanese 100 yen stores you will find very Japanese things from kawaii cutie toys to offbeat man goods and even better, you will find Japanese housewares and food stuffs that you cannot find in the states cheaply.
How Does Pricing Work in a 100 Yen Store?
Simply put, everything in the store is 100 Yen unless specifically marked otherwise in the top right corner of the product.
You may see things that say 200 yen, 300 yen, and the highest I recall seeing was for 550 yen. At less than $5 USD, that's still a steal.
What Are The Top 100 Yen Shop Brands?
What Do 100 Yen Stores Offer?
Buckle up, because the list is crazy! You can literally find anything at these stores, and each one is slightly different than the last.
Souvenirs and Gifts
Stock your goody bags here!
Father's Day Gifts
Mother's Day Gifts
Keep Your Kid Quiet at the Dinner Table Gifts...which leads me to:
Kawaii plush toys
Tiny everything (tiny erasers shaped like food, tiny dolls, etc)
Dry erase and sticker books
Fun writing utensils
Cosmetics and Toiletries
Make up remover
Purses and Bags
Jewelry and Hair Accessories
Food and Drink
Dry goods like ramen
Utensils for kids
Chopstick helpers (makes a great gift for your kid's daycare class!): get them now on amazon
Chopsticks of all varieties
Bento boxes and lunch boxes
Soup bowls (get them now on Amazon)
Pots and pans
Very Japanese Items
Plastic crates with Japanese writing for doll houses
Various sized tatami mats (we use them as a "traditional Japanese bed" for my daughter's smaller plush toys)
Buy something similar now on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3nn3f9y
Sakura everything - from fake leaves to full on table decor for a party
Coverings for arms (common to see women wearing these as protection from the sun)
Camping gear like flint and steel, fire starting fibers, and other totally specific but very useful items!
"Men stuff" like grill grates, BBQ tongs, fire resistant gloves and stainless steel soap are common and very fun to look through for gift ideas.
Things to Consider When Shopping at a 100 Yen Store
If you need a bag, expect to pay a bag fee, which is minimal - around 5 cents.
Items are not bagged for you. You must take your shopping basket or items over to a side table to keep the flow of people moving through the cashier lane.
Stores are often multi-level in Japan, so don't assume the floor level is the only part of the store.
Which 100 Yen Stores Are The Best?
The most popular stores are Daiso and Seria, but similar stores include the '3 coins' store, the aptly named '100 yen shop', Lawson, and 'CanDo' store.
In truth, they are all about the same, although some bloggers suggest that Seria is the fancier among them.
Where Can I Find a 100 Yen Store?
Daiso, Seria and some of the lesser known stores are best found by stumbling upon them. Often situated in the most touristy or populous areas of Japan, these amazing stores can be seen in malls, storefronts, and even tucked away in hidden staircases above grocery stores.
Just google "100 yen shop" or "daiso near me" when you're there to get going in the right direction, but if you want to start somewhere, try the giant Daiso store in Asakusa, located at Japan, 〒111-0032 Tokyo, Taito City, Asakusa, 1 Chome−25−15 ＲＯＸ４階. It's located in a mall with several levels, including a 3 Coins Store in the same mall as well.
100 Yen Shops Outside Japan
You can even find these stores outside of Japan! On our recent cruise ship stop in Busan, South Korea, we were delighted to find a Daiso offering items for 1,000 won (basically the equivalent of $1 or 100 Yen).
According to WikiPedia, "Daiso has 3,620 stores in Japan, and nearly 2,300 stores overseas in Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, and Vietnam."
Naturally, I needed to know where to find one in my state, so here's the list from Daiso itself! Unfortunately, it looks like I need to take a drive to Texas or New York, but once you're Daiso-obsessed like me, you'll see that this is a totally sane and reasonable reason to take a road trip.
Don't fret, though - if you can't make the drive, Daiso has an online store. Check out the Shop Daiso USA Online link here!
100 Yen Shops Are For Lovers
Lovers of inexpensive things at high quality, that is. I flipping loved the 100 Yen shops and jumped with joy upon sighting them every time. Do yourself a favor and keep an eye out for a Daiso, a Seria, or any of the other 100 Yen Stores next time you are in Japan or large Asian cities. The myriad of options to take home is worth buying the extra carry on bag for 200 yen - I did! Happy Travels, shoppers.