How to Save Money Traveling in Japan: Money Saving Secrets and Amazing Souvenirs From Japan
When you're in Japan, you'll want to take advantage of all the great shopping here! So, we asked a Japanese travel expert about easy ways travelers can save money in Japan and got some tips for bargain shopping as well as recommendations for top souvenirs to pick up while here. This article will introduce a way for you to easily save money without having to cut corners by earning points on your regular shopping. You’ll have all the more fun while you save! Be smart and save by using the tips from this article to get discounts while you shop in Japan.
Feb 04 2020 (Sep 09 2020)
*Article written in collaboration with NTT DOCOMO.
Japan Loves Points? Earning Loyalty Points is a National Hobby in Japan
If you’ve traveled much in Japan, you probably already know that there are many different point cards that, for many Japanese people, are indispensable for day-to-day shopping. These point schemes allow you to earn points based on your spending. In other words, it's a cashback system where a certain percentage of your total is returned in the form of points. This is an everyday practice that's so popular, some call it a national hobby in Japan.
This is how it works: just show your point card when doing your ordinary shopping to earn points based on the total spent (typically calculated at 1 point per 100 yen spent). Convenience stores are at the top of the list, but there is a wide range of stores that offer point cards, including restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, hair salons, cinemas, bookstores, florists, and more. This smart system that allows you to save money while you shop has taken root as an everyday part of Japanese people’s lifestyles.
However, for visitors in Japan who can't speak Japanese or aren’t too familiar with Japanese culture, signing up and using a point card can seem like a Herculean task. Also, even if you know that multiple shops have their own point card, it’s not that easy to know which one is the best. So, while we're explaining the smart way to use these point cards, we thought we should introduce d Points and the d Point Card, a point service made especially for international travelers in Japan. With this one card, your shopping experience in Japan will be amazingly economical!
What are d Points and the d Point Card?
Of all the point services in Japan, why do we recommend d Point? Because it’s so convenient! This is an easy way to get a bargain. You can use this card at a truly diverse range of over 42,000 stores and partnerships all over Japan, including Matsumoto Kiyoshi and SATUDORA (drugstores), Tokyu Hands (variety shop), PLAZA (cosmetics store), Life (supermarket), Animate (anime goods store), Family Mart, and a wide selection of hair salons, nail salons, hotels, and more.
You’ll save 1 point per 100 yen spent (in some cases 1 point per 200 yen), and you can use the points to pay with no minimum threshold (1 point = 1 yen).
Whether paying by cash or card, just show your point card at the register to earn points. Even if you just have 1 point, you can redeem it for a discount when purchasing goods or services at any time.
The international tourist-oriented d Point Card is decorated with symbols of Japan, including Mt. Fuji, torii (shrine) gates, castles, the Rainbow Bridge, deer, and geisha. The cute Docomo mascots, the Poinco Brothers, also make an appearance, so even the card itself is a great Japanese souvenir.
d Point Target Countries: Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam
d Point Registration Process
The d Point registration process is extremely simple. Before your trip, all you have to do is use your phone or PC to register online at home.
After arriving in Japan, go to the Docomo World Counter inside the airport, show the person at the counter a screenshot of your d Point membership, and you will receive your d Point Card. Of course, you can also do the registration process at the airport after arriving in Japan, too.
As a gift for registering, you'll get 300 points (equivalent to 300 yen) and an adorable free Docomo Poinco Brothers character item.
After that, you can earn points every time you shop, making this a great way to save money. There’s absolutely no hidden registration fees either, so why not make the most of your long-awaited Japan trip with a d Point Card?
Docomo World Counters
- Narita International Airport Terminal 1 Docomo World Counter Narita 1
- Narita International Airport Terminal 2 Docomo World Counter Narita 2
- Haneda Airport (International Terminal) Docomo World Counter Haneda
- Chubu International Airport (Centrair) Docomo World Counter Chubu
- Kansai International Airport Terminal 1 Docomo World Counter Kansai 1
You can also collect your d Point Card at a few other locations. You can find more details here.
Can d Points Really Save You Money in Japan? International Travelers Put It to the Test!
We’ve talked about how the d Point system offers good value, but it can be difficult to imagine just how much of a bargain it is if you haven’t actually used it! So, we decided to give some tourists a d Point Card to see how much they could save shopping in real Japanese stores. Before they headed out, they consulted tsunagu Japan's roundups of recommended products from Japan to help choose items such as cosmetics, daily essentials, pharmaceuticals, travel items, snacks, and souvenirs. Let's go over what they bought so that we can see how much you can save with a d Point card!
PLAZA: Lifestyle Goods Store Stocked with Tons of Adorable Items!
The trendy lifestyle goods store "PLAZA" is loved by many Japanese people. It has a diverse lineup of practical, on-trend items, including cosmetics, daily necessities, snacks, stationery, apparel, accessories, and toys. This store has garnered a lot of support from international tourists, and is known by both tourists and Japanese people as a holy land for cosmetics. We guarantee that you'll be agonizing over all the different popular cosmetics from Japanese brands as soon as you set foot inside a PLAZA store!
The first item our shoppers chose was a popular secret weapon for time-saving skincare, the Saborino Morning Mask. Just by wearing one of these sheet masks for 60 seconds when you wake up, you can eliminate time-consuming cleansing, moisturizing, and priming for makeup from your morning routine. This is a really useful sheet mask for when you're pressed for time and have a busy morning ahead. The Saborino Night Mask from the same series is also very popular. This is an excellent product that combines five skin care products (toner, lotion, serum, night cream, and sleeping pack) into one, saving you time going through a tedious routine before bed.
Our travelers also bought three super-popular makeup products: long-lasting eye shadow from the brand Excel, which is one of the most popular affordable cosmetic brands in Japan; a sheer lip color gloss that comes in a gorgeous gold package from Opera; and the new and improved moisturizing UZU 38℃/ 99℉ Lipstick. Our shoppers also purchased some cute and practical diaries. These cosmetics and handy stationary items are sure to add a little sparkle to life!
PLAZA Purchase Amount: 11,300 yen / Points Earned: 113 d Points
Tokyu Hands: A Market Full of Ideas and Hints to Improve Your Lifestyle
Tokyu Hands is a department store widely loved by Japanese people and tourists alike. Not only can you use d Points here, they also offer a duty-free service. Tokyu Hands sells creative products that inspire customers to enrich their lives, including daily necessities, cosmetics, stationery, kitchen supplies, DIY goods, and travel goods.
The first thing we will introduce from Tokyu Hands is the LOJEL suitcase. LOJEL is an iconic Japanese luggage brand, and this suitcase was developed to meet the real-world needs of travelers. This brand has an interesting background: it originated in Japan, and was re-imported here after its popularity exploded on the international market.
This particular suitcase is worthy of special mention for its front-opening style. Whether you're packing at home or just need to get into your luggage at the airport, the front-opening pocket lets you access your luggage without having to fold open the whole bag. Its innovative and practical design and amazing storage capacity has attracted plenty of fans. Whether you have a lot to bring with you or just aren't great at packing, this suitcase is easy for everyone to use.
Created by Japanese brand ATEX, the Lourdes cushion is a popular and portable A4 (30cm x 21cm x 16cm) sized body massager that does a great job of working out all your muscle knots and kinks. With over 900,000 pieces sold in total, this massager helps provide some relief for the modern day ailment of stiffness that comes from sitting in the same position all day.
This estaa umbrella comes from Moonbat, an umbrella company that throughout its 100 year history has managed to combine tradition with modern innovation. This folding umbrella can be used either in rainy weather or as a sun shade, and is especially popular with international tourists thanks to its sturdy design and wide color range. The practical and stylish umbrella has fans of all ages and genders.
Stainless steel bottles are very much in style in Japan at the moment. One particularly popular type is the nao sudou Petit Bottle. These pocket-sized bottles have a 190ml capacity (16cm height x 4cm diameter), and come in either classic monotones or a range of cute pastel designs that have earned them a lot of young fans. These high-quality bottles that combine a portable and lightweight build, cutting-edge Japanese technology, and cute designs are perfect as souvenirs or as a little gift for yourself!
Tokyu Hands Purchase Amount: 38,660 yen / Points Earned: 386 d Points
Matsumoto Kiyoshi is the most popular drugstore chain in Japan. Its biggest selling point is the vast range of products and low prices. These stores are well set up for international customers, with Chinese-spreaking staff and duty-free counters available. And best of all, you can earn d Points here.
Matsumoto Kiyoshi not only stocks pharmaceutical and cosmetic brands commonly sold at drugstores, they also offer their own brand of products. matsukiyo brand products have a reputation for their high efficacy and have gained attention from both Japanese people and tourists.
One example is Dipashio EX, which was jointly developed with Okuda Pharmaceutical, a company with a history of 120 years. These small and easy-to-swallow tablets help relieve many symptoms such as toothache, sore throat, headache, menstrual pain, muscle pain, joint pain, stiff shoulders, and back pain. This is a popular and effective product that has earned plenty of repeat buyers. They are ideal to keep on hand while you're traveling, or to take home to keep in your medicine cabinet for a range of aches and pains.
Wakoalis FX Cool are eye drops that soothe eye strain by promoting regeneration with vitamin B6. These drops reduce redness and moisturize the eyes. They're effective for eye strain, conjunctival congestion, prevention of eye diseases, ophthalmitis and blepharitis caused by UV damage, discomfort when wearing hard contact lenses, and itching and blurry eyes.
For colds, we recommend matsukiyo Pelack Multi-Symptom Cold Relief Powder. This powder can provide effective relief from various cold symptoms, including sore throat, cough, phlegm, runny nose, blocked nose, sneezing, fever, chills, headache, and joint and muscle pain. It comes in individual sachets, so it's easy to keep on hand.
Matsumoto Kiyoshi Purchase Amount: 2,524 yen / Points Earned: 25 d Points
Review so far:
Tokyu Hands: 386 d Points
Matsumoto Kiyoshi: 25 d Points
PLAZA: 113 d Points
Total from purchases: 524 d Points
d Point registration bonus: 300 d Points
Docomo roaming user bonus: 200 d Points
＝1,024 d Points
Large Supermarket Chain "Life": Use d Points to Buy Bargain Souvenirs for Friends and Family
Life is a large-scale supermarket chain that developed in the Kanto and Kansai regions of Japan. These bright and clean supermarkets sell fresh foods as well as groceries, bento (packed meals), drinks, snacks, and instant products. Life supermarkets are popular among locals and international visitors alike thanks to their convenience and range of delicious products that make shopping fun.
All Life stores accept credit cards, and there are also self check-out registers in multiple languages at some stores, so there's no need to worry about not being able to communicate with the Japanese clerks. The stores at Central Square Oshiage near Tokyo Sky Tree, Asakusa near the tourist attraction Senso-ji Temple, and Central Square Namba in downtown Osaka have a duty-free service, so you can even take a break from sightseeing to go shopping for some souvenirs here.
Inexpensive and delicious, sweets are the best way to get many souvenirs to share in one pack. Classic souvenirs include Meiji Almond Chocolate, made with almonds coated in smooth milk chocolate, or good-old Kit Kats. The Matcha flavor, made with matcha tea from the famous Uji region, and the double-strength Rich Matcha are two extremely popular Japanese flavors of Kit Kat we're sure you'll want to pick up if you see them in a supermarket here!
Next, some drinks! The Zeitaku Shibori Peach Chuhai contains 31% fruit juice and plenty of peach flavor. It's just the right amount of sweet and tastes just like real fruit juice! The Lemon-do Sour sold by Coca Cola Japan is an alcoholic drink made with shochu cut with lemon soda. Four different flavors are available: lemon, salty lemon, honey lemon, and oni lemon (“oni” refers to an ogre-like creature in Japanese folklore; this is a strong lemon sour). The alcohol content of these drinks ranges from 3% to 9%. These are a very popular type of drink that you should definitely try when you're in Japan!
Our shoppers finished up their shopping at Life with Ryukakusan, which are throat lozenges that are very popular throughout Asia; Chiitara, a perfect beer snack; and hojicha (roasted green tea) and matcha teas.
Life Purchase Amount: 3,388 yen (1,024 yen paid in d Points, 2,364 yen paid in cash)
d Points Earned: 11 (1 point per 200 yen spent at Life)
*The indicated price of each product is accurate at the time of writing.
*Availability of products may differ depending on each store.
Take a d Point Card with You on Your Japan Trip for Infinite Perks!
We hope this test has illustrated to you just what a big difference going shopping with a d Point card makes! The benefits don't stop at earning points at the shopping register, too. We've outlined four more advantages to becoming a d Point member below!
5 Fantastic d Point Member Benefits
- Register online to become a d Point member. When you arrive in Japan and pick up your d Point Card at the Docomo World Counter, you will receive a bonus 300 points (equivalent to 300 yen) just for registering your card.
- If you also use a roaming service via the Docomo network, you will receive an additional bonus 200 points (equivalent to 200 yen).
- Get coupons exclusively for d Point members. Examples: 500 yen off at Lotte Duty Free; 10% tax exemption + 10% off + 300 yen off at Japan’s largest duty-free store LAOX; 15% off JAL ABC, an airport delivery service that connects airports and accommodation facilities; 5% off bookings with VELTRA, a company that conducts over 14,000 sightseeing and activity tours.
- One-day access to Docomo’s free Wi-Fi spot, Docomo Wi-Fi for Visitors (equivalent to about 400 yen).
- Free novelty item featuring the popular Docomo mascots, the Poinco Brothers (either a mobile phone strap, tri-color pen, picnic blanket, or A5 size notebook) *Gift may change without notice
Why not take the advice from this article and use the d Point Card to shop smart during your next trip to Japan?
If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.