100 Yen Stores: The Most Fun Consumers Can Have!

It’s fun to visit another country and find little cultural differences, or learn that there may be a different way to do or say things than what you’ve always known. I take it another step, and admittedly get a little “judgy.” Here’s my running tally on “Who does it better–Okinawa or the U.S.?”

                                                       Oki       U.S.

McDonald’s                                     1             0 (In Oki, it’s fresher & “how it should be”)

desserts                                            0             1 (We don’t get obese eating veggies.)

overall safety                                   1             0

vending machines                          1             0 (check out my “I’ll Drink to That!” post)

beautifying streets                         1             0 (flowers, flowers everywhere)

street names & city planning       0             1 (Oki directions rely on landmarks)

traffic turn signal clarity               0             1

overall customer service                1             0 (not counting Hawaii)

spas & pedicures                             1             0 (nail tech=painter w/tiny canvases)

distinguishing “sausage”

from “hot dog” on the menu      -1             1

 

I’m sure I’ll describe many of these items in more detail later, but I must pause for a second to explain the last one, which really gets my goat (yes I actually said that, now what?!). Just because you ordered the sausage pasta at an “Italian” restaurant (I’m glaring at YOU, Marco Polo!), does NOT mean it’s going to be spiced Italian sausage.

hot dog pasta

So, so wrong.

I love hot dogs, probably more than the average person, but this dish gets Strike 1 for not even using all beef hot dogs,  Strike 2 for being in pasta, and Strike 3 for misleading me with the name “sausage pasta” instead of “hot dog pasta” on the menu. This is what I’d call a bachelor meal: something you throw together when you don’t feel like cooking  a real dinner.

If you say so.

New and improved from our original cardboard flavor.

Despite this hot dog debacle, Okinawa wins in lots of side-by-side comparisons, and that includes the “dollar store” department. If Dollar Tree and Walmart spawned a litter of babies, and those babies grew up and ate a bunch of Japanese psychedelic shrooms, that would pretty much describe what the Daiso stores in Japan look like.

This is just down the street. Don't be "jel."

Don’t be jealous, but this is just down the street.

They’re commonly called “100 yen stores” (100 yen currently amounts to a bit more than a U.S. dollar). They actually charge 105 yen for their items (or more for nicer items), but nobody’s going to start calling them “105 yen stores.”

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Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

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Inflation. We won’t bother to change the signs, though. If you’re an insider, you just know.

Like Walmart, it seems you can find just about everything in these stores. Unlike many Walmarts, they’re not open 24 hours–more like 10 to 9. You’ll find items at the 100 Yen Store you didn’t know existed, and things you didn’t realize you needed until you saw them. I’ve learned to shop mostly solo at the 100 Yen Stores, because I take way too long looking at everything.

They have lots of kitchen items:

Smiley forks. Happy to pierce that food for you.

Smiley forks. We are happy to pierce that food for you.

 

Pretty pink Okinawan cherry blossom dishes. I want.

Pretty pink Okinawan cherry blossom dishes. Kawaii!

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Cupcake dishes?! I can hardly contain the squealing–they’re SOOO cute!

Toys and fun things for the kiddos:

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Did I say fun? I meant frustrating to no end.

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Cute cartoon chopsticks

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Glow sticks and even glow stick hoop earrings. Just in case you get invited to a rave this weekend.

Gardening supplies:

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Elephank you very much.

Tools:

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Spanner. That’s British for wrench, ya goof.

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Files for sanding wood, or sneaking into your imprisoned family member’s cake.

Last minute formal attire:

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Neckties. It’s like secondhand store shopping, first hand.

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If you get a run or forget your Nixon mask on the way to rob a bank, there are panty stockings and patterned fishnets ready for purchase.

Interesting smoking accessories:

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A cigarette–pipe? Hmm. . .

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Portable ashtrays (aren’t they all portable?) that look discreetly like change purses. For when your host doesn’t provide you with one and you’re too classy to ash on the ground.

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“Let’s carry good manners with ashtray.” I second that motion. I don’t find your smoke offensive, just the ashes. Don’t even think about ashing wherever, pretty-as-you-please, missy!

 Adorable stationary and envelopes that make you lament how email and social media have replaced the art of letter writing.

100 yen aisle

And that you don’t have anyone to write and pass notes to, let alone fold them up with “Pull Here—>” tabs and “For your eyes only” warnings.

Office supplies:

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A wall of binders. Alas, no Trapper Keepers, though.

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A cup can also be a “pen stand,” but this cute pen stand cannot also be a cup!

An astounding variety of erasers:

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Food shaped “funny erasers.” Now if only they smelled like food, too. These are more collectible–I just can’t bring myself to erase with them.

"Gatherable-type" (?) erasers in sizes King, Mom, and Baby--that no family member should be with the wrong sized eraser!

“Gatherable-type” (?) erasers in sizes King, Mom, and Baby–that no family member should be with the wrong sized eraser!

Orange and cola smelling erasers. The cola erasers smell just like gummie cola bottles, and I want to eat them!

Orange and cola smelling erasers. The cola erasers smell just like gummie cola bottles, and I want to eat them!

 

Craft supplies:

Kokeshi ruler and bookmark? This is EXACTLY what I came here for! I swear it was on my shopping list. . .

Kokeshi ruler and bookmark? This is EXACTLY what I was looking for! I swear it was on my shopping list. . .

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Doughnut buttons. I MUST think of a craft that requires doughnut buttons!

Yummy and/or “interesting” snacks:

Round crackers and wasabi flavored peanuts. Why not?

Cracker balls and wasabi flavored peanuts and crackers. Why not?

Squid jerky?

Squid jerky. I just love the taste of dried tentacles in the morning.

Dried fishies. Umm, yum?

Dried fishies, with heads and eyeballs. Reminds me of my childhood (no, really–we called them dilis and ate them with rice and soy sauce).

A metric ton of cleaning supplies:

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I promise I’ll clean more if I can have this kawaii microfiber sponge!

. . . or this black cat cleaning cloth!

Or this black cat “hand mop”!

 

Mr. Clean's Magic Erasers got nuthin' on these fellas!

Those Magic Erasers got nuthin’ on these fellas!

 

And strange (or strangely-named) gadgets and gizmos a’plenty, that would make even The Little Mermaid’s head spin:

 

Yes, a shampoo hat.

Yes, a shampoo hat. When “No More Tears” Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo is unavailable. Also can be used as a visor at the beach. If you don’t care how dorktastic you look, that is.

Hello Kitty face masks. Just 'cuz you're sick, doesn't mean you can't be stylish.

Hello Kitty face masks. Just ‘cuz you’re sick, doesn’t mean you can’t cough into something stylish.

Face ball roller. Please tell me I'm not the only one who looks at this and giggles like an immature, gutter-minded teenager?

Face ball roller. Please tell me I’m not the only one who looks at this and giggles like an immature, gutter-minded teenager?

Hand muscle developer. That's exactly what I call it, too. Now hand me my purple leg warmers and over-one-shoulder sweatshirt, and I'm on my way to an 80's music fitness montage.

Hand muscle developer. That’s exactly what I call it, too. Now hand me my purple leg warmers and over-one-shoulder sweatshirt–I’m on my way to a fitness montage in an 80’s movie.

 

 

"Take care pads." Because pee pee pads might sound a little too inappropriate? Gotta love the pictures!

“Care sheets.” Because pee pee pads might sound a little too explicit? I have to say, the illustrations of elderly people in bed and on a bedpan are oh-so-helpful in explaining what “care sheets” really are!

 

 

Cooling bandana. Get that authentic Japanese schoolgirl look while staying cool! "Eco" = good for the environment. Because I know you were going to use some wasteful ice and paper towels, weren't you, tree killer?!  Nevermind that you're going to throw away all that smiling plastic packaging as soon as you remove your cooling bandana!

Cooling bandana. Get that authentic Japanese schoolgirl look while staying cool! “Eco” = good for the environment. Because I know you were going to use some wasteful ice and paper towels, weren’t you, tree killer?! Nevermind that you’re going to throw away all that smiling plastic packaging as soon as you remove your cooling bandana!

 

Demon masks. Not just for Halloween, but also for Setsubun. Wear it and you may have soybeans thrown at you!

A demon mask. Not just for Halloween, but also for Setsubun. Wear it and you may have soybeans thrown at you!

There’s just too much fun and funky stuff to include in one post! Another installation of “100 Yen Stores: The Most Fun Consumers Can Have!” will materialize, by and by. Until then, happy mindless shopping/bizarre product hunting!

What would you most like to try or buy from the items pictured here?

What are some of the strange things you’ve found for sale in your travels?