[travelling] How to get the best deal when you buy electronics in Japan?

Japanese household electronics are still popular among many Asian tourists, and to satisfy the enormous oversea demand, many Japanese electronic brands have now introduce dual voltage small appliances, including hair dryers and other cosmetic used electronic goods like facial steamer and cleansing brush.

In my trip to Japan this time, I was hoping there would be more small kitchen appliances that comes in dual voltage but I figure most appliances with heating features often requires larger watts to operate and thus usually don’t come in the dual voltage design.  And to many tourists, kitchen appliances are often too big to pack in their suitcases anyway.

Recently more compact appliances for esthetic purposes have become more popular, and here I bought a dual voltage Panasonic nanoe hair dryer this time.  Don Quijote or Donki have always been my favourite store to visit in Japan, they often offer super good deals with tax return right a way, but this time I found another major competitor that actually offers much better deal and conveniences to tourists!

When you shop for electronics in Japan, there are 3 places you need to make note of:  Don Quijote, Bic Camera and Yodobashi.  The first one is like Walmart while the latter two are like Best Buy.  If you have something specific in mind that you want to buy, definitely go to the website of Bic Camera and Yodobashi to check out the prices first.  Bic Camera wins out of the three for conveniences because it offers English info on their website!

One thing to remind everyone who plans to purchase any electronics in Japan, make sure to select products offer you dual voltage!  Despite Japan uses 100V while it’s only 10V difference to Canada’s 110V, I have had an experience destroying my Japanese appliance when I just plug right into the wall with the only 10 voltage difference!

To make this short, here’s to sum up my electronic hunt in Japan with the experience of the 3 chains above:

Don Quijote-
1. They offer very competitive prices but only carries a limited varieties of electronics.
2. Tourist will have to pay for the full amount with tax included at first and then proceed to tax return counter to process tax refund.

Yodobashi-
1. Carries varieties of electronics online and in store
2. Website only provides Japanese info on each product

Bic Camera-
1. Carries varieties of electronics online and in store
2. Website provides English info of the products
3. Prices and locations are better than Don Quijote and Yodobashi
4. Tourist can purchase at tax free price at the special tax free counter, and by using selected credit cards including UnionPay, Visa would offer extra 5% off.

At the end one of the staff told me if I go to their facebook page I was able to obtain a 7% off coupon there!

So my conclusion is, shop smart and shop around in Japan and definitely pay with credit card for more discounts!  Another tip is, UnionPay is growing BIG in Asian, so if you carry one definitely bring it with you when you visit Japan and Korea, most stores would offer more discount to UnionPay than other credit cards.