I have always been a fan of Tokyo fashion sense. As I mentioned previously, everyone here is impeccably dressed, regardless of age, and everyone has their own personal style. From Lolita to Goth to Rockabilly to office wear, Tokyo has it all. If you want something, it is going to be in Tokyo. And if it is not, then it probably does not even exist.
Since arriving in Tokyo (almost a month now! Amazing!), I have done quite a fair share of shopping here. Not just for fashion, however that is where I seem to hit my shopping stride as of late. Whether it is in Harajuku or at the 100 yen store, I’m willing to go anywhere with an open mind. Depending on the district, Tokyo shopping can be quite expensive but there always seems to be a sale going on somewhere, from my experience. However, there does seem to be a bit of a learning curve when it comes to shopping here in Tokyo. There are differences from American stores, which even I was really surprised to experience! It takes some observation of other shoppers to fully grasp some of the nuances. Trust me. I have embarrassed myself here enough.
One of the biggest differences from American shopping, which I have even experienced in the 7/11, is how the workers greet you and how you should act towards them. When you enter the store, you will immediately hear, “Irasshaimase”, which means ’Welcome’. Usually in America, it is quite often that we will reply with a greeting, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here in Japan. Most people simply ignore the shop workers, and one of my friends told me that it is actually considered strange or even sometimes rude to start mini-conversations with the employees! Personally, it is in my nature to say ‘hello’ when someone greets me, so it has been a bit strange to bite my tongue sometimes. But, when in Tokyo, do as the Tokyo-ites do.
Some of the smaller differences in retail stores that I have seen include actually setting the money you are paying with in a small dish, as opposed to the employees hand. Now, I am not sure why this is, but it must be convenient for the worker to continue ringing up items and bagging them instead of having to stop to accept bills. Speaking of bags, Tokyo shopping bags are usually sealed with stickers or tape to assure the safety of your items. Occasionally, clothes in the store are not actually the items that you purchase. Them are simply for display. Meanwhile, that shirt you want is in the back room, wrapped in plastic to prevent damage.
It seems much more practical this way, doesn’t it? For me, some things have taken some getting used to, especially not greeting workers, as I forget that I should not hand them my money while I am fumbling around with it. But that’s enough shopping talk for now, my wallet is screaming for a break! Until next time!