Buying (electronic) products in Japan – 5 things you should consider.

Japan is the land of electronics, period. When visiting Japan you might want to make some purchases of electronics yourself. There are plenty of reasons why you might consider doing this. Some products are cheaper,  some products are released earlier. Whatever your reason is to buy consumer electronics in Japan we advise you to keep the following things in mind.

  1. The voltage in Japan is different than in most countries. In Japan the voltage on the outlets is 100V, which is lower than that of North America (120V) or Central Europe (230V). While some products like tablets, phones and laptops can handle all these different voltages some other products might not. I once brought a television set from Japan only to see smoke and loud bangs before realizing I should have checked if the TV would be able to handle the local voltage. Please always check the specifications of the product you are about to purchase to make sure if it can be used safely on with local power grid! If this is not the case we recommend you buy a power converter to convert your local current to a current suitable for your Japanese electronics!
  2. Most plugs in Japan are of plug type A, which is the same kind of plug as used in North America. (Some devices have grounded plugs which are of type B, but most devices come standard with type A plugs.) If you are not from North America you probably need to buy a converter plug. Personally I have used some converter plugs from Daiso for over a few years now, and I never had any problem with them. (They might be a little more loose fitting than more expensive plugs.) If you are not able to go to Daiso you might also consider buying a converter plug online.
  3. For some more expensive (>10.000 yen) products it is possible to avoid paying the 8% consumer tax. There are some requirements to use this option. a) You need to be a using a tourist visa. b) You need to purchase products at a shop that actually offers the tax free shopping option. For more details we recommend you to check online about the most up-to-date rules and regulations.
  4. Once you bring products purchased in Japan back to your home country you might be required to pay tax. Every country has a different tax free import allowance, but you easily go above this amount if you buy something like a camera or tablet. Please make sure to check the rules and regulations for your own country before bringing back any products from Japan!
  5. While Japan is the home of consumer electronics, not all products are necessarily cheaper in Japan! I recommend you to always check the price of the products you are about to buy, just to make sure if it is actually cheaper than in your own country. In your calculation do not forget to consider possible taxes in your own country. If you want to find the cheapest place in Japan to buy your products we recommend the site kakabu.com , which can be used to compare the prices of a wide range of products.