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Secrets of Shopping in Japan: When is the Best Time to Shop? Full Guide to Seasonal Sales in Japan!

Secrets of Shopping in Japan: When is the Best Time to Shop? Full Guide to Seasonal Sales in Japan!

Date published: 25 December 2018
Last updated: 18 January 2019

People who want to visit and enjoy shopping in Japan often hear this one particular sentence from friends and acquaintances: “But Japan is really expensive!”

There’s truth to this sentence though, as particularly touristic areas in Japan – with Tokyo being the most famous example – often do have somewhat inflated prices. That doesn’t mean that there’s no shopping bargain to be made if you know when to strike!

So, when is the best time to go shopping in Japan? Let’s take a look at all the secrets behind a successful Japanese shopping tour!

When are Sales in Japan? Breakdown of Seasonal Sales

When are Sales in Japan? Breakdown of Seasonal Sales

The biggest sales in Japan are the winter and summer sales. Clothing colors and materials change according to the season, and in order to clear their inventory, shops will release products at discounts ahead of the next season. The sales duration are long and the closer it gets to the end the bigger the discount you can find! If you can find the right item at the right time, you will be sure to get a great deal!

The main annual schedule for sales in Japan (based on 2018) is as follows:

・April to Mid-May: Spring Sales
・Late-June to Mid-August: Summer Sales
・Early November: Japan Series, W11
・Late-November to Mid-December: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas Coffre
・Late December to January: Autumn and Winter Sales
・Faburuary: Chocolate

We will cover each sale below.

Spring Sales in Japan: Aim for Golden Week

Spring Sales in Japan: Aim for Golden Week

Spring products such as apparel have a short sale duration. Items start being displayed from early February and by mid-March the lineup is full. By April stores will start bringing in summer goods and many stores will change their lineup to summer goods by the end of Golden Week (GW). Generally spring sales starts in April when summer clothes start to appear and end sales by Golden Week. Before and after the holiday there is a clearance sale which has a greater possibility to purchase items that are largely discounted.

The best timing get pastel colored spring items for spring, is before Golden Week in early April to May.

Summer Sales in Japan: From Late June to Mid-August!

Summer Sales in Japan: From Late June to Mid-August!

The peak for summer sales in Japan is from late June to mid-July.
The sales period will be different depending on the shop style, however most department stores and fashion shops conduct their sales during this time. Outlets will start their sales from late July to early August. Sales are typically held around the 15th of August and they aim to attract as many customers during the Obon holiday season in Japan.

Since the sales end date vary, make sure to check each store’s information beforehand. In the case where the sale duration is long, the closer it gets to the end date, the discount rates increases. However there is a higher chance that popular items will become sold out, so determining the correct timing becomes important.

Also generally the summer bonus is given out around mid-June in Japan, so expensive home appliances go on sale in July.

Example of 2018 summer sale near Tokyo

November Sales in Japan: Filled with Many Sales Originally from Abroad!

In recent years there have been many new sales that occur weekly from November to early December.

Ii Kaimono no Hi (A Good Day to Shop)
Sale Period: One week before and after November 11th
Where: Online shops, convenience stores and others

Ii Kaimono no Hi is held on November 11th every year. It is a large scale sale that is held at stores and online shops by 5 main companies. The companies are, search engine and shopping site operator Yahoo!, Japan’s major communication company Softbank, music and book rental shop TSUTAYA, major convenience store Family Mart, and T Point Japan, which operates a point service when purchasing from the companies above.

The sale originally started in 2009 by Taobao (Tmall) in China and was called “W11 (double eleven)” since it was held on November 11th. In 2018 the gross sales in China was 314.3 billion yuan (about 5,343.1 billion yen), and the market is continuing to grow and expand. Aiming to get a piece of the market, e-commerce has crossed borders and spread to the world.

In Japan they have started running sales since 2015 and during the 2018 November 5th (Mon) to November 11th (Sun) period, 94 companies and 192 brands joined in.

Black Friday Sales in Japan
Sale Period: 4th Friday of November
Where: Shopping malls, super markets, online shops and others

Black Friday is a major sale that is conducted once a year after Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It is a major event where many shops such as department stores, supermarkets, home appliance stores and others offer huge discounts before Christmas. It has a festive feel like Japan’s New Year’s sale.

In Japan major shopping mall company Aeon Mall conducted Black Friday in 2016. Now Ito-Yokado, APiTA, and other shopping mall chains along with online shops such as major EC site Rakuten has started holding Black Friday. This is quickly becoming a standard massive sale right before the holiday season.

Only at shopping mall sales are there major discounts that put home appliances below 50% and great discount for personal goods.

Amazon Cyber Monday in Japan
Sale Period: December 7th to 11th (generally 4th Thursday of November to next Monday)
Where: Amazon Online Shop

Cyber Monday is a sale conducted on online shops after Black Friday. Cyber Monday offers more discount to goods that were left over from Black Friday and offers a chance for people who missed Black Friday to get what they were looking for.

Cyber Monday is still not a standard sale in Japan, however Amazaon.co.jp conducts a large scale campaign and over 2,000 items go on sale. According to the results of the past two years, Amazon.co.jp Cyber Monday is held from December 7th to the 11th. Compared with being held immediately after Black Friday, there is a tendency to start late two weeks later.

For people visiting Japan during this period, it is possible to have Amazon deliver the goods to your hotel. It depends on the inventory, but items purchased on Amazon will be delivered within 3 days. For a detailed delivery date, check with the website.

Professional Baseball Japan Series Championship Sale
Sale Period: 3 days after the winning team is decided (early November)
Where: Where winning team’s sponsor products are sold

In Japan, where baseball is a major sport along with soccer, a unique sale is held: the Professional Baseball Japan Series Championship Sale. This sale is conducted by the winning team’s sponsor and is not guaranteed to be held every year, however it has become a seasonal event that is an additional bonus to the winning team’s fans. Depending on the winning team’s sponsor’s business, the region where the sale is held and products will vary.

Japan’s Exciting Christmas Sales: Great for Coffret and Accessories

Japan’s Exciting Christmas Sales: Great for Coffret and Accessories

In December there are many events such as Christmas parties, end of the year party with your friends or co-workers, and New Year’s Eve. In Japan the winter bonus is issued during this period, and department stores and shops are filled with customers looking for gifts for themselves, coworkers, friends and family. Also home appliance stores have big sales on major household appliances and electronics.

During this period you will see many advertisements for Christmas sales and year-end sales, however the really big discounts start after the New Year for winter items.

For the period right before Christmas, we recommend the “Christmas Coffret” – bundles of cosmetics and accessories. During the Christmas Coffret, cosmetic companies offer limited Christmas sales, these items are in a set and offered at a great discount. The set includes limited pouches and colors. Woman all over Japan look forward to this and popular brands will be sold out on that day through reservations. Also before Christmas is a great time to look for accessories, since there is a full lineup and limited designs.

Woman’s beauty magazines “Maquia,” “Biteki,” and “Voce” have a special for Christmas Coffret in their December issue, if you are not sure what to get at the department store, you could purchase one of these magazines at a convenience store and check which items to get first. If you have a particular brand you like or a certain item, you could check their official site and see if the item you want is part of the coffret or not.

First Sales of the Year to Winter Sales in Japan: Don’t Miss Out on the “Fukubukuro!”

First Sales of the Year to Winter Sales in Japan: Don’t Miss Out on the “Fukubukuro!”

Winter sales peak from early to late January! Many department stores, fashion buildings and clothing stores conducted their first sale of the year around January 2nd and continue their winter sale until late January. Also note that many shops are closed on January 1st.

The main feature of the first sales of the year is the “Fukubukuro!” The Fukubukuro (lucky bag) contains items that are several times the selling price of the bag. The contents of the bag is a mystery, but they include various items such as apparel, cosmetics, food, stationery, jewelry, and home appliances. There is a risk that there are items that may not be to your liking or the size might not fit, however the excitement and discount is worth it.

Generally after New Year’s holidays, the winter sale goes in full swing and discounts become better weekly throughout January. Expensive items such as coats become cheaper during this time so it might be a good idea to visit during this period. There are cases where some shopping malls in the outskirts conduct sales until early February. If you missed the winter sale in January, you could head out to outlet malls and regional shops to check their sales.

Aim for Japan’s Niche Sales in February and March!

Aim for Japan’s Niche Sales in February and March!

After the onslaught of winter sales, February and March will calm—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any sales!

February and March is perfect for chocolate and sweets after Valentine’s Day and White Day. In Japan on February 14th Valentine’s Day, women give men chocolate gifts and on March 14th White Day men return gifts to women. After the chocolate festive by chocolate manufactures is over, rare overseas brand chocolate and new chocolate by famous patissier go on sale while they are within the shelf life. For chocolate lovers, February’s Valentine’s season with a huge chocolate brand lineup is worth a look even before the sale kicks off.

March is a great time for account settlement home appliance sales. In Japan many corporations see the end of their fiscal year at the end of March, and many home appliance stores hold sales to finish up their year. There is a possibility to get that item you wanted at a great price.

Where to Shop: Main Shopping Areas in Tokyo

For main shopping areas in Tokyo, we will cover the 3 most popular districts: Shinjuku, ShibuyaHarajuku – Omotesando, and Ginza.

Shinjuku’s Shopping Spots

Shinjuku’s Shopping Spots

In Shinjuku there are not only large high end department stores like Isetan and Takashimaya, but there are casual fashion buildings such as Mylord and Lumine. Also it is a contested area for large home appliance stores, Shinjuku Station East Exit and West Exit have Yamada Denki, Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera operating year round. Shinjuku offers a wide range of goods such as high end brands, casual brands, apparel, sundries, and home appliances.

  • 新宿伊勢丹
    Shinjuku Isetan
    • Address 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station a minute walk from Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Shinjuku-sanchome Station
    • Phone Number 03-3352-1111

    https://www.isetan.mistore.jp/shinjuku.html

  • Takashimaya Dept. Shinjuku Store
    • Address 5-24-2, Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 151-8580
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shinjuku Station (JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Chuo Main Line / JR Saikyo Line / Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / Toei Shinjuku Line / Toei Oedo Line / Keio Line / Keio New Line / Odakyu Odawara Line)
      2 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 03-5361-1111
  • Odakyu Shinjuku MYLORD
    Events
    • Address 1-1-3, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0023
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shinjuku Station (JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Chuo Main Line / JR Saikyo Line / Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / Toei Shinjuku Line / Toei Oedo Line / Keio Line / Keio New Line / Odakyu Odawara Line)
      1 minute on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3346-5611

Shopping Spots in Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando

Shopping Spots in Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando

Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando are popular shopping area for young people. It is where new trends starts and have many business facilities like Shibuya 109, Shibuya Hikarie, Laforet Harajuku, Omotesando Hills and others. There are direct shop for Japanese Brands such as Acne Studios, Undercover, Issey Miyake and Beams. Also taking a look at the stores behind the main street is fun.

  • SHIBUYA109
    • Address 2-29-1, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0043
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shibuya Station (JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Saikyo Line / Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line / Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line / Tokyu Toyoko Line / Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line / Keio Inokashira Line)
      0 minute on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3477-5111
  • Omotesando Hills
    • Address 4-12-10, Jinguumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Omotesando Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line / Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line)
      2 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3497-0310

Shopping Spots in Ginza

Shopping Spots in Ginza

If you are looking for luxury goods or brand items, Ginza is the place to go. Centered on Ginza Namikidori there are many luxurious world brand stores such as Chanel and Prada, there are also department stores such as Ginza Mitsukoshi, Matsuya Ginza and Hankyu Men’s Tokyo. Ginza where many brands have their flagship store is a fascinating place where you can see a full lineup of brands. There are casual shops like Uniqlo and GU, and near Yurakucho Station there are large complex stores like Muji x Loft and Bic Camera.

  • Mitsukoshi Ginza
    • Address 4-6-16, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-8212
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Ginza Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)
      1 minute on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3562-1111
  • Matsuya Ginza
    • Address 3-6-1, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-8130
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Ginza Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)
      1 minute on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3567-1211
  • Uniqlo - Ginza
    • Address ginzakomatsu east hall 1.2 floor, 6-9-5, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Ginza Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)
      4 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 03-6252-5181

Final Tips for Master Shoppers in Japan

If you are looking to buy items on sale in Japan, July and the New Year’s Holidays is a good time to visit. If you plan on visiting over the New Year’s there are department stores and fashion buildings that close early on December 31st and are closed on January 1st. Also there are cases where you can’t return or exchange items on sale. Since it can get very crowded some stores have limits on how many items you can try on, so make sure to select carefully when you make your purchase. We hope you have a wonderful shopping experience during sales in Japan!

Photo credit (top image): BT Image / Shutterstock.com

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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