Keep Calm and Continue Shopping! 5 Things You Should Know Before Shopping in Japan

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Keep Calm and Continue Shopping! 5 Things You Should Know Before Shopping in Japan

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Have you ever gone shopping in Japan before? It is often said that customer service is excellent and Conbini (convenience stores) are just about everywhere in Japan, however, some of the shopping customs can be strange and even kind of shocking to those visiting for the first time.

These situations may depend on what kind of shop it is, so I note the type of shop at the end of the lead sentence.

1. Don’t be startled by shop staff calling out “Irasshaimase” [Anywhere]

“Irrashaimase” means “Welcome to the store!”, and you can hear it at any store or restaurant, from Conbini to high-class boutiques. In places like large department stores, shop staff may even bow (they are trained to bow a certain way as well) when they say “Irasshaimase”! 


At ramen shops, izakaya, or rather noisy places, the “Irasshaimase” tends to be louder and more repeated as people working there are mostly masculine guys with knives in their hands and standing over hot stoves (sooo hot!) and they think making noise gives off a vigorous impression. Some staff say”irasshaimase” so often that it becomes broken and sounds like  “Rasshaiaseeee” or “Asshaiyaseeeee”.

Thus, the way of saying “Irasshaimase” is different depending on the shop. They’re welcoming you by saying the phrase but you don’t need to be afraid of it or feel awkward by not knowing how to react. They don’t feel sad or angry not getting reaction to the visitors, so just ignore it, or just smile back will be good enough! Do not say “Irasshaimashita” in response because that sounds arrogant and you might secretly get bad service.

2. Shop staff will walk you to the entrance of the shop when you buy something [Clothes/Fashion shops]

When you buy clothes, shoes, accessories…fashion items at the store, shop staff will say “I’ll walk you to the entrance of the shop”(Iriguchi made Ookuri shimasu). The only reaction you can take is to say “Thank you”, otherwise shop staff will feel awkward. They do this to protect you from ninjas who might steal your purchase before you leave the store. Not really, but why not imagine something cool?


This custom is to be said to have begun in the Edo period and still happens everywhere, so Japanese people don’t think that it’s “a useless custom and should be abolished!”.


Arigatou Gozaimashita~~~!

This is similar to the custom where gas station attendants will guide your car onto the road and keep waving to you until the car becomes invisible. In Japanese business, there is a traditional phrase “The customer is king”. These customs might be a result of that. Even if you may feel uncomfortable, let them make you feel royal for once!


3. Condoms will be wrapped opaque bag separately from other stuff [Anywhere]

…To Apply

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Been working in girls’ fashion magazines for a long time and am now the chief editor of Tokyo Girls’ Update. I have more expertise in Japanese teen fashion than anyone else (probably)! I’m a huge fan of the Revolutionary Girl Utena and Bakemonogatari animes.

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