It is a widely held belief that living in Japan is very expensive and I was a little intimidated by that when told I was headed to Japan the first time. I claim to be cheap but my husband is kind and says that I am frugal. Merriam Webster defines cheap as obtaining something at a low price or at minimum expense and frugal as characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources. I like to economize our funds by getting things at low prices so I guess we are both right!
What I found was the cost of living wasn’t as crazy as I had expected (but then I expected the worst and was coming from Hawaii and Vancouver, Canada which are both expensive in their own rights) I still was a bit shocked to see 3,000 yen mangoes as Thomas at Nihon Hacks describes in his post on how to find 300 yen steaks in Japan. I wish he had been blogging 10 years ago!
Anyway, after I began to feel comfortable with daily life and had the basics down I wanted to expand beyond the trips to the local grocery store and back. While walking around I noticed that one store in particular seemed very popular so I went in. Well, it turned out to be a 100 Yen store (there were actually two in our neighborhood but one was better than the other).
What is a 100 Yen store? It is a store where anything in it costs you 100 Yen (about $.92)! What can you get there? Pretty much everything. I would buy my household cleaning supplies, re-usable plastic containers, kitchen gadgets and stationery there on a regular basis. Check out the product selection at Japan-Guide and Daiso (90,000 different products). It was my idea of bliss and anytime I had a craving to go shopping that was the first place that I went being the cheap, I mean frugal, gal that I am.
You might think that the quality of good was poor but that was not the case. I am still using a can opener, 10+ years later, that was purchase at a 100 Yen store in Japan! I can’t wait to go back – I might even go there before the grocery store if I pass it first!