Crowned as the country with the highest standard of living in the world, it is no surprise that those visiting Japan quickly find out that goods are generally expensive. However, there are some exceptions. Electronics top the list. The latest electronic products (such as computers, cameras and gaming systems) are usually first released in Japan, often at lower prices compared to USA and Europe. In December 2010, I bought a Canon IXY 10S camera for 13,800 Yen (US$166). The same camera (called “Canon IXUS 210” in most countries and “Canon Powershot SD3500 IS” in USA) cost US$229 in USA and even more in Europe.
For a wide selection of electronic products at competitive prices, visit Akihabara area in Tokyo. If you are looking for unique gifts, the chain department store, Tokyu Hands, is not to be missed. You can find everything from unique office supplies to hobby materials to various do-it-yourself kits. I have found the woodworking tools, robotic tools and numerous toys at Tokyu Hands to cost less than in USA. Most importantly, don’t forget to bring your passport along when shopping. If you spend at least 10,001 Yen at a single store, you are waived from paying the 5% GST (Goods and Services Tax) by showing a foreign passport.