Shopping in Shinjuku
There are several shopping malls in Shinjuku and all the major Japanese high street brands have shops here too.
1. Takashimaya Department Store
Our hotel is opposite Takashimaya Department Store. As usual, producing a foreign passport here will entitle you to a Hello Kitty card which is a 5% discount card but there is exclusion with some of the designer stands including Hermes and Bao Bao.
Foreigners can also claim tax refund. However, pls note that Takashimaya can be quite sticky in this aspect. The name on your credit card used to pay for your purchase must match exactly that of your passport. Otherwise you may run the risk of your claims being rejected. I notice that it is less sticky at some other stores. Also you do not get the full 8% tax refund here. Takashimaya charges a 1.1% service fee. (Note that some department stores do not charge any service charge, eg Keio). The standard rule is that tax refund needs to be claimed on the same day of purchase and refund is in cash only. To be eligible for tax refund, you need to spend a minimum of ¥5000 (exc tax).
I went to check out the Bao Bao boutique even though I was not planning to buy anything. It was mid morning when I went and they still had lots of bags on display. The craze of some years back when you need to queue up before the store opens to get your much awaited back seems a thing of the past. But the price difference between the price I have to pay in Japan compared to in Singapore seems to have narrowed. This could also be the reason why there is less of a rush now. Otherwise, maybe I was just lucky that day. Since the 5% Taka Tourist discount does not apply to Bao Bao, it is probably better to buy Bao Bao at the standalone boutique as members get a 5% rebate usable for the next purchase. It is easy to apply for a members card if like me, you are a regular Issey Miyake shopper.
There is a Me by Issey Miyake counter at Takashimaya, and I bought a blouse and a skirt. I was able to get a 5% discount with the Taka tourist discount card here. There is no Pleats Please counter at Takashimaya. So on this trip I satisfied my Pleats Please by Issey Miyake shopping at their Omotesando shop when we went there for dinner one of the evenings.
Didn’t buy much stuff here except a Rilakuma soft toy for DD, Pokémon Nanoblocks for my kids who are collectors and my Cle de Peau cosmetics. They have more Pokémon nanoblock choices in Japan and they are cheaper than Singapore. I checked out Hermes but the price was similar to the Singapore boutique. So I did not get anything.
On our last day, we did drop by to buy Japanese peaches and Kyoho grapes to bring home. They packed the fruits in a box for us and added lots of stuffings to prevent bruises. Our fruits arrived home in great shape! Yay!
2. Keio Department Store
At Keio, there was no across the board foreigner discount card or coupon like in Takashimaya. But Union Pay card members get a 5% discount coupon in store and some dining coupons. We used the dining coupon for free coffee and beer when we lunched at Saboten. On this trip, we found that there were lots of places that were offering discount only for Union Pay card members. Such is the power of the Chinese dollar. As I travel regularly to China, I have a Union Pay card too and so I also benefited. My friend was lamenting her misfortune for not having a Union Pay card.
There is also difference in tax refunds at different department stores. Unlike Takashimaya which charges a 1.1% service charge and so you do not get the full 8% refund, Keio does not charge any service charge. So you get your full 8% back at Keio. This can be significant for big item purchases. I noticed significantly more tourists here especially those who hail for China, compared to at Takashimaya. With the 5% Union Pay discount coupon, it is overall cheaper to shop at Keio than at Takashimaya. If you do not have a Union Pay card, then buying at Takashimaya will be cheaper even with the 1.1% service charge if you use the tourist discount card.
As mentioned in my earlier posts, I’m not one who like to browse around shops and hope to find things to buy. I normally have an objective and target before I visit particular places. If I wonder aimlessly I normally end up buying nothing. One of my favourite snacks from Japan is Goiter de Roi from Gateau Rusk. Gateau Rusk only has counters at selected department stores in Tokyo. One of which is Keio. So this is the main reason why I went to Keio.
Gouter de Roi is made from French baguette by a confectionery in Gumma prefecture. The crunchy sugar-coated pieces of toasted bread is quite a simple snack and is nothing new. But it is very popular among Japanese and is frequently used as gifts during festive seasons. There is always a queue (mainly locals and not foreigners) at its counters, and on this occasion it was no exception. Having been introduced to it by my Japanese staff, I now love it too! It goes very well with coffee. They happen to have a festive Halloween packaging at the time I went and so I bought 6 packs! This festive packaging is cheaper than its standard metal box package.
I bought some “cigar” cookes from Yoku Moku too. Yoku Moku is available at most departments but since I was at Keio, I just bought mine here.
Since there was time, I browsed the department store and for once came across a white gold Akoya pearl necklace that I liked from Tasaki, a well known jeweler in Japan who also has its own pearl research facilities. The necklace also comes with a certificate of authenticity. I had a 5% discount here for my necklace using my Union Pay discount coupon. I almost did not get to complete the purchase as Keio seems to only accept credit cards using the magnetic strip while my cards normally operate on the smart chip only when overseas for security purposes. In the end, only my Union Pay card worked. This is the first time it has happened to me when shopping in Japan. I was able to claim the full 8% tax free refund here.
There is a Muji Store in Shinjuku too. I like the clean cut look of Muji but they are so expensive in Singapore. I could not find the pajamas that I like here as they were changing seasons and those on sale were for more for late autumn/winter and not suitable for Singapore. But I did buy bedsheets for my boys. They were about 30% cheaper than Singapore and since we had lots of luggage space and we decided to get them.
I also bought the white chocolate coated strawberry snacks for DD. They are her favourite but as not also available in the store in Singapore. Before I could take photos of them, DD finished the 6 packs that I bought. ?
We could get tax refund here.
The Uniqlo store at Shinjuku is liked to the BIC store. Since DH wanted to check out the new Nikon D850 camera, we went to BIC and thus Uniqlo too. I bought some ladies legging ankle jeans for DD as they are on sale and were really cheap at JPY950 per piece. We could get tax refund too.
There were lots of winter wear options but since we did not need any, I did not check them out seriously.5. BIC
BIC is where we normally go to to get our local SIM card previously. But nowadays with Singtel’s roaming data plan of SGD20 for 1GB data for 30 days, we no longer bother to get the local SIM.
But we still went to BIC because DH was interested in the new Nikon D850 camera what was only launched in recently. The price in Japan is some SGD500 cheaper than Singapore. But unfortunately it is sold out at BIC. We subsequently checked out a few other camera shops including Yodobashi Camera, and all were out of stock. ?
But we did get some Nintendo Switch accessories for the kids. The carrying case here is JPY2,000 (SGD24) compared to Singapore’s SGD42. The extra controller cost JPY6,630 (SGD80) vs about SGD100 in Singapore. We also had tax refund here.
Next up: Eating in Shinjuku (I) – Breakfast, Coffee & Dessert