Did you know you can get the tax back on the diapers you buy in Japan - and then some? It is one of the perks you can enjoy as a foreign visitor.
The stores that will give you tax back have a special red sticker in the windows. Usually you have to spend over a certain amount, which can vary from 30 USD to 300 USD. You will have to fill in a special form that declares you will not resell the goods you have bought, and that you are not living in Japan and are not buying for someone living in Japan. And you will have to show your passport, so be sure to bring it.
Make sure to get all the tax back
When you shop you either get the tax free price right away, or the store will give you the tax back. If you shop in a mall you can package all the items together. In that case, you need to seal them in the same bag as other items. Normally, only consumable items need to be sealed in special bags.
Be careful to only shop in stores that actually give you the full 8% back. Some will not give you all the tax back.
Additional social discount
Some stores will give you an additional discount if you show your passport. Others, like Matsumoto Kiyoshi (at least some stores) give you an extra 5% on top of the 8 % tax back if you sign up for their social media channel. And I just got an offer for a 7% off cupon from BIC Camera when I rented a car.
Other stores have a similar offer. This means you can buy a package of diapers for 1100 yen instead of 1500 yen. Even more if they have a discount offer. And it may be even more if they have a special offer. Check before you shop.
An extra tip is to buy gift cards in a ticket store and pay with them. Gift cards is a very common gift in Japan but sometimes people want to cash in on the full amount rather than buy piecemeal. So they sell the gift cards. Sometimes companies also ask employees to buy gift cards before the end of the fiscal year to increase turnover, and give the employees a discount, and they will sell them instead of using them.
You buy the gift cards in the ticket shops that also sell concert tickets, train tickets and other tickets of all types. The ticket stores buy the gift cards at maybe 10% off face value and sell them at 95% of face value. So if you buy gift cards and pay with them you get a 5% additional discount.
The 5% additional discount
Just check in advance that the store takes the kind of gift card you want to pay with. An additional 5% takes an additional 50 yen off your packet of diapers, which may not soung much but if you buy something else than diapers which takes less space in your suitcase than diapers, you can get 50 dollars off your 1100 dollar purchase.
If you have a credit card that gives you an additional discount or cash back, check if you can use it to pay for the gift cards. That will give you an additional discount an in addition of course the airline points you are no doubt collecting for your next Japan trip.
The department stores take most kinds of gift cards. And they have desks with English speakers to help you.
Did you enjoy this post? It is one in a series of posts about shopping in Japan. I already covered buying baby supplies in Japan, how to shop for diapers in Tokyo, and what to but to prepare for the Japanese winter.
I am Wisterian Watertree, recently moved from Bangkok to Tokyo, with a brief visit to Honolulu on the way. I write about travel, especially with our three beautiful kids (two girls and one boy, soon turning six - yes. they are triplets). Travel is education and fun rolled into one, and if you are like me, that is something you want to give to your kids. If you want more tips and want to find out when I will publish something, get it from my email list. If you want to be personal, drop me a note on email@example.com, or if you want general tips, follow me on Twitter @wisterianw.