Tsuruha Drug in Osaka's Shinsaibashi is a pharmacy that has recently exploded with popularity amongst foreign travelers and shoppers. Many visitors exit the store with no less than two or three large bags. What could they be buying in such huge quantities?
We visited Tsuruha Drug Shinsaibashisuji ourselves to find out the reason for the shop's popularity with so many tourists.
What Kind of Place is Tsuruha Drug Shinsaibashisuji (2-chome Branch)?
Tsuruha Drug Shinsaibashisuji is located on the first floor of a building along Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street and is about a 5-minute walk from Osaka Metro Shinsaibashi Station. The entrance faces out to the shopping street, making it easy for customers to wander in and browse around. Because of the location of Shinsaibashi, about 90% of customers are foreigners. Many are Asian tourists, particularly from China and Taiwan.
Many people like to go shopping after a day of sightseeing, so evenings and nights are particularly crowded. There are tons of drug stores in the surrounding Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi areas, and a total of nine Tsuruha Drug stores, however, this location is the largest Tsuruha Drug in western Japan.
They have a wide selection of medicines and cosmetics, food items such as sweets, daily necessities, and baby items.
The spacious and bright interior makes it easy for tourists to shop. There are two-tiered shopping carts for those who plan to buy a lot, or don't want to carry heavy items. Inside the shop were many customers using these two-tiered carts, many buying products in huge amounts and filling both baskets to the brim.
Because the use of shopping carts requires a certain amount of space in a location, there are usually only a few places in small towns that use them. But thanks to the ample space at this location, shopping carts are easily and readily available.
What Did You Buy At Tsuruha?
We meet a young Chinese woman in her twenties eagerly perusing items near the entrance with her parents.
"We came to buy these," she says, showing us her items. "Is that your favorite product?" We ask, and she explains: "Well, it's not sold in China. You can find it on Taobao, but it's expensive." Taobao is China's largest e-commerce site. Many Japanese products are sold there, however they are usually a bit expensive.
She admits, "I don't know much about Tsuruha Drug stores, but it's so big, I want to walk around and see what else they have. I like that it's so big and bright."
Next we meet a 50-year-old Chinese man shopping with his wife. "We came here to buy our favorite cosmetics and hair dye," he said. How did they find out about Tsuruha Drug? "I heard about this place from a friend. I heard it's a famous shop."
A 30-year-old man from Taiwan stops by while walking around. "I come to Tsuruha Drug all the time. I get coupons from an app. I like places that sell a lot of different items." He points out one of his favorite things about the store.
"Some items are cheaper here than in other stores. It's also easy to find what I'm looking for because it's well organized." It seems Tsuruha Drug coupons even appear in overseas apps, and is a well-known store in Taiwan.
Tables and chairs are set up in the back of the store as a little rest area. There we meet a Chinese woman in her thirties taking a break with her large luggage.
"I came here to buy cosmetics. I just so happened to see them while walking by and decided to stop in. But everything is so well-organized, it's easy to find what I want."
When we asked if she buys Japanese cosmetics often, her mother who was shopping with her piped up, "They're great for my skin!"
Shiseido Cosmetics are very popular in China. In a survey conducted about Japanese and Korean cosmetic brands used in mainland China in 2018, Shiseido Cosmetics ranked number one, at 90%! One of their especially popular items is ELIXIR.
Tsuruha Drug sells the largest number of these products of any drugstore in Osaka. It is said that one reason for the shop's popularity with Chinese tourists is because of the availability of so many of their favorite items.
Some other popular products are collagen care products and deep-cleaning pore cleansers. It seems that cleansers are some of the best-selling popular items, and are often purchased in bulk.
This is one of the most popular makeup removers. It is a quality item made with a mild formula that can easily remove even waterproof makeup.
Megurizumu is a hot-selling brand that offers a seasonal line of products. This item gained viral popularity in China about six years ago by word of mouth, said to relieve eye strain from using smartphones and computers. They are also individually wrapped, another reason for their popularity.
It seems there are other Japanese eye care products, including eye drops, that are popular in China, as well. And while they may have similar items of their own on the market, many people still want something made in Japan.
Health foods and supplements are also hot sellers. Many women come to purchase diet foods and DHC supplements. A lot of these products are often introduced on Xiaohongshu (RED), the Chinese version of Instagram, which encourages tons of users to come here to buy them.
China has a different public health insurance system from Japan. In order to avoid high medical expenses, high-quality Japanese health foods and supplements have become quite popular.
Tsuruha Drug Original Items
There are some products only available through Tsuruha Drug. The private brand "M's One" is popular for its good quality and reasonable price.
Tsuruha Drug places a strong focus on product development, as well as original brand hair care products.
La ViLLA ViTA is a haircare brand jointly developed between a beauty salon and the cosmetic specialists at Tsuruha Drug.
"We develop our items after listening to the voices of our users. There are many people who come to the store specifically looking for these items," said Mr. Takemura of Tsuruha Drug.
Discount Services at the Duty-Free Register!
This store offers tax-exempt shopping. There are five duty-free cash registers. In addition to credit cards, they also support overseas smartphone payment apps such as Union Pay (Ginren Card), Alipay, and WeChatPay.
In addition to a 10% tax exemption, there is also a campaign that offers 7%, 5%, and 3% discounts depending on how much you shop (until December 31, 2020). At most, you could earn huge savings up to 17% off! They do many limited-time campaigns, so be sure to check the app or store for details.
Tsuruha Drug Shinsaibashisuji 2-chome Branch also employs many Chinese-speaking staff. It's easy to see why this Japanese pharmacy, with its bright, spacious interior and well-organized arrangements, is such a popular shopping area for foreign tourists.
Tsuruha Drug Shinsaibashi-suji 2-chometenツルハドラッグ心斎橋筋2丁目店
- Address 2-2-19 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, 〒542-0085
- Phone Number 06-6214-0268
Regular Holidays: None
Text by: Shigemi Futaki
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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