Seven SMS students are participating in a student exchange program with Eiwa School in Shizouka, Japan. Below, some of the students share observations and reflections about shopping in Japan.
The moment I walked into a Japanese mall for the first time it took my breath away. I stood in the doorway for over a minute with my mouth hanging open and an overwhelmed look on my face. Sounds were coming at me from every direction. People were calling for me to buy stuff, music was playing and hundreds of high-heeled shoes click-clacked on the shiny tile floor. Everywhere I looked there were mannequins waving at me, inviting me to come into their stores. I felt like I was in a music video and I should break into song and dance while I was on the escalator. It was such a surreal experience. To size things up, take all the malls in Victoria, put them together, then multiply them by 10 and you have one Japanese mall. Then, add all the colours of the rainbow and splatter them in every direction. It is hard to do anything but stare when you walk into a mall here in Japan.
5 Steps to Becoming a Responsible Shopper in Japan:
Step 1: Plan ahead by deciding what it is that you want to buy. (Ex. Shoes)
Step 2: Find out what is considered to be an ‘average’ price for this type of item. (Ex. Shoes can range between 2000¥ and 15000¥)
Step 3: Consult your budget to ensure that after buying this item you still have enough money to cover daily necessities. (Ex. Can I buy these awesome shoes and still afford daily okashi?)
Step 4: Make sure to bring lots of money in bills. They take considerably less time to count out than coins. (Ex. If the shoes cost 3000¥, pay with one 5000¥ bill or 3 1000¥ bills, not 30 100¥ coins)
Step 5. Go shopping and (try to) stick to your budget by fighting constant temptation to splurge on every other unique Japanese item you spot. (Ex. “Oooh Hello Kitty purse!! Sparkly! No – shoes shoes shoes…”)
Everything is so cheap! I spent just over 6000¥ on a dress, shoes, and accessories! This is definitely an amazing deal, but considering I only had 15000¥ to start with, it is an important reminder that I have to be careful about budgeting what I have left. A useful self-discovery that I have made while here in Japan is that I’m an impulse shopper. On top of all of the cultural lessons I have learned, this revelation is one that will probably help me to be more responsible with my money in the future.