Hundred yen stores are, as you can probably guess, stores where everything costs 100 yen. Daiso (=ザ・ダイソー) is one such store. Although Daiso is a Japanese brand, there are various locations worldwide, including in Malaysia, Korea, Singapore and other Asian countries, as well as 29 stores in the USA, and others in every continent except Europe.
There are many 100 yen store brands in Japan other than Daiso. Other very popular ones include Seriea (=セリア) and Can’do (=キャンドゥ), as well as Lawson 100 (=ローソン 100) which is the convenience store version, with a heavier focus on food items. Daiso, however is the most popular, and has the highest number of stores within Japan.
WHAT IS A 100 YEN STORE
As mentioned above, a 100 yen store is simply a store where all items cost a single 100 yen coin (plus 8% tax). Nowadays there are certain items which will cost a little more (usually 200 to 500), but a large majority costs 100 yen.
Exchange rates are in constant fluctuation, but one easy way to estimate how much your Yen is in US Dollars is to consider 100 yen to be equal to 1 dollar. So whatever amount you have, just divide by a 100 and you’ll roughly have the value in US Dollars.
Now that you know that 100 yen is only 1$, you’re probably wondering if something so cheap can be any good. To put it simply, it is. As a general rule, price is a good way to determine quality. The more something costs, the better its quality is supposed to be; the cheaper it is, the worse its quality is supposed to be. This generally holds true. Daiso and other 100 yen stores however turn this rule upside down. They have products which despite the price tag, are definitely worth more than that if quality is taken into consideration.
WHY SHOP IN 100 YEN SHOP?
For myself, and I think for most others who live in Japan, the 100 yen store is the first stop for pretty much anything they might need. Need something for your kitchen? 100 yen store! Need something for your bathroom? 100 yen store! Need something to repair/customize your bike? 100 yen store! This applies to just about anything. The quantity and variety of items in 100 yen stores is truly mind-boggling.
When visiting Japan, if you’re anything like me, you’re likely to forget something at home. This may be an accessory for your phone or laptop, a notebook, etc. Before you go anywhere else, pull out your phone and look for the closest 100 yen store to you. It will likely be no more than a few hundred meters away. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it there for a much cheaper price than anywhere else. Note that 100 yen store is a term used exclusively by foreigners and the Japanese likely have no clue what that means. If you’re speaking to a local, while looking for directions, for example, as for the 100均 (pronounced: hyakin)
In addition, 100 yen stores have products with some of the very famous Japanese characters such as Hello Kitty, as well as Disney and other Japanese anime themed items, Yokai Watch for example being extremely popular.
As mentioned earlier, Daiso is the most popular 100 yen store brand in Japan. This is likely simply because it is the most common. There are 2,680 stores spread around the entire Japanese archipelago, meaning luckily for you, there’s more than enough to be certain there’s one near you. Furthermore, Daiso has an online store which delivers overseas.
Daiso stores are generally fairly small, around the size of a couple convenience stores back to back. The good news, however is that some are larger than others. We went to Daiso in Kinshicho in the Sumida ward. It’s the biggest Daiso in Tokyo and has a ton of goods.
THE DAISO ARCAKIT KINSHICHO
he Daiso Arcakit Kinshicho (=ザ・ダイソーアルカキット錦糸町) occupies the entire 7th floor of the Arcakit Kinshicho mall. Thanks to that massive space, it contains hundreds upon hundreds of products. If you need more than a few items and do not want to spend too much on them, or if shopping for Halloween or Christmas decorations, it should be the number one destination on your list. In addition there are loads of more traditional Japanese things. Products like potteries, Japanese style plates and cutlery, sake sets, dolls, etc.
We strolled around the Daiso Arcakit and roamed through the floor and looked through the products. It’s overwhelming how much there is. A lot of the items are just normal, everyday things. However, some of them are extremely inventive, quirky, and something, useless. But that’s where the fun is. If you’re visiting Japan and looking to take back something a little less tradition, Daiso is your best bet. We’ve bought and tried some of the popular products from Daiso and will be discussing them after the jump.
10:00 – 20:30. Open Everyday.
Kinshicho Station (Chuo-Sobu Line, Hanzomon Line, JR Shiosai Line, JR Sobu Line)
POPULAR DAISO PRODUCTS
As I’ve mentioned earlier there are thousands of products in the Daiso Arcakit. We’ve Picked a couple them and tested them. I give my opinion on whether they are useful or not.
APPLE CUTTER: リンゴカッター
Cooking is one of my favorite things to do. As such, I’m quite proud of my knife skills. I had seen similar devices online in ads and Youtube videos. Each time I quickly pointed out it was useless and I could do the same thing with my knife. After seeing the apple cutter at work, however, I had to admit I was wrong. The apple cutter cores and cuts the apple with one stroke and just a little bit of strength. This makes it much quicker than anyone with a knife who’s just looking to snack on an apple.
Is it useful? Yes, as much as I hate to say it.
ROLLING LINT REMOVER: くるくる毛玉取り
This little device is revolutionary. If I added up the amount of time I’ve spent in my life using adhesive lint rollers on my clothes, it would add up to maybe a quarter. Ok, that’s a bit exaggerated. Still, it would add up to a lot. This little gem is an electric lint remover. It cuts and aspirates the lint from your close and stores them in a little container. Once it’s full, just empty it, and go back to aspirating. It saves a lot on adhesive lint removers, which in turn saves on the money used to buy them.
Is it useful? Yes
BOIL OVER PREVENTER (MILK WATCHER): コトコトくん
The principle is very simple, a layer of vapor stays collects under the milk watcher until it reaches a maximum capacity. Once that maximum capacity is reached, the vapor is released, preventing the liquid to boil over. This can be used for instance when boiling pasta, or milk for instance.
Is it useful? Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend staying away from your stove while boiling certain things. Just stay close and stir your pasta once in a while. Or alternatively, you can place a wooden spoon on top of your pot. It does the same thing.
STAINLESS STEEL SOAP: ステンレスソープ
This small, metallic soap shaped thing is supposed to rid your hands of certain smells after cooking. I’ve been told it’s especially useful after cooking with fish. I didn’t have any fish on hand, so I poured a bunch of garlic paste onto my hands. I then proceeded on rubbing them nicely together to spread the stench evenly. Following that foul procedure, I went on to the sink to wash my hands with the steel soap, followed by regular soap. In truth, I still smelled the garlic, somewhat masked by the smell of metal on my hands. I maybe should’ve tried with fish.
Is it useful? No. Wash your hands with regular soap. And who cares if they smell a bit of fish?
ONE TOUCH WIPE LID: ウェットシートのフタ
You know when you buy a pack of wet wipes and they get dry because you can’t close the adhesive lid? Well this is a remedy to that. You stick the One Touch Wipe Lid to the opening of the wet wipe pack, and you have yourself a new, more reliable cover.
Is it useful? Somewhat. I would personally vouch for just taking care of the original adhesive lid.
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH COASTER (¥150): 珪藻土コースター
Diatomaceous earth is essentially made from fossilized diatoms and is a very porous material often used for filtration. As a result, these coasters have an otherworldly capacity for absorbing water from you glass. Any water spilled on it quickly vanishes.
Is it useful? Not especially, to be honest. But it’s a ¥150 coaster which does magic. So, yes.
SILICON SPONGE HOLDER: シリコーンスポンジホルダー
Nothing revolutionary here. It’s a silicon sponge holder. Nonetheless it’s very handy. It can hook onto things in your sink and has holes in the bottom to allow the remaining liquid to drip into the sink.
Is it useful? Yes. It’s a lot better than letting your sponge just lay there without anywhere for the water to escape.
DASHI TAMAGO MICROWAVE MAKER: だし巻きたまご
Dashi tamago is a rolled pan-fried omelet flavored with dashi, a Japanese cooking stock which is the base of many dishes. Making dashi tamago required a bit of technique to get the rolling right. This device is intended to make it simpler. You simply need to beat an egg, put it in the mold and microwave it a couple minutes until it’s just set. Then to finish you place the lid back in, pressing to shape the egg, and voila!
Is it useful? No. To begin with, if you don’t know how to microwave an omelet properly you end up with a dry, misshaped lump which can hardly be called an omelet. Finally, it’s so much easier to just learn to do it the old fashion way. It’s also a lot tastier.
This device essentially allows you to reseal packs and adds a cap type seal which allows you to pour with more precision like a bottle. This is very useful for flour, sugar, and other similar packs. In addition, the cap also functions as a measurement cup.
Is it useful: Yes. No complaints.
The Easysealer is another of the most popular Daiso items. It’s an impulse heat sealer. It uses heat to bind open packages. This works very well things such as chip bags, and plastic bags. It requires two AA batteries as an energy source, and is really simple to use. Just slide the device along the opening you’d like to seal and it works its magic. Don’t leave it too long though, or it will overheat and instead destroy the package.
Is it useful? Yes. If you manage to get as much air out as possible, you can mimic the effects of a vacuum sealer.
OTHER 100 SHOP STORES: SERIA
As mentioned above, Daiso is not the only 100 shop brand out there. You have Seria, which is probably the second biggest one in japan. Seria is often said to be a classier, fancier 100 yen store. In my experience, it is somewhat true. I prefer Seria when I’m looking to buy prettier things, or certain items for my kitchen where looks matter more. In addition, I found that Seria seems to have more options when to comes to DIY things. So if you’re into that, make sure to give it a look.
You normally should not have to worry about whether to choose Daiso or Seria when you’re in Japan. Just lookup 100 yen store on google maps, and go to the one that’s closest to you. They are generally the same.
WHY YOU MUST CHECK OUT DAISO AND OTHER 100 YEN STORES
Japan is notorious for being a very expensive country, especially to visit. This is in some ways true. However, having been here for a number of years, I find it is cheaper in various ways than most believe. Japan provides you with various opportunities to do awesome things, or buy great things, very interesting or weird things, for very little money. Hundred yen stores are one such opportunity. They contain most things you can think of, and multitudes of things you had no idea existed. If you’re visiting Japan, I’d recommend stopping by one especially for souvenirs. You’ll find much more memorable and interesting things, for a much better price.
100 YEN SHOP IS ALSO WHERE YOU MEET JAPANESE CULTURE
After writing this post about 100 yen shops, I got a lovely message from a fellow Otashift member who had also been to the Daiso Arcakit with me:
“Marcel, I hate how negative you are about the 100 yen items. Lovely. haha.
I would just like to add one more thing. For those coming to Japan, I really recommend going to 100 yen shops, not only to buy things, but to meet Japanese culture. It may sound weird, but many of the items are very Japanese.
As Marcel meanly noted, some of the items are useless. Sometimes, yes, it is true. It’s just that we Japanese yearn to live life as lazily as possible (this may be the secret behind why we live so long). As such, items at the 100 yen store we saw earlier such as the “One Touch Wipe Lid” means a lot to us even though it’s not “useful”
Imagine your baby drops a deuce right after you’ve changed his/her diaper and it makes you feel unfortunate and miserable. Once you reach the storage box for his diapers and catch a glimpse of the cute Kikirara (name of a character) on them, it immediately cheers you up.
Ok, it might be an exaggeration, but nonetheless, being surrounded by such cute items, trust me, the little things make a big difference.
As everyone knows, Japan produces a lot of anime goods. It’s for the same reason. It makes our lives happier.
100 yen shops are places you can easily experience a part of Japanese culture. So make sure you go to one. Hope you’ll love it!”