What to Buy in Japan: Extensive Shopping Guide for Makeup & More

So admittedly it’s been several months since our vacation in Tokyo & Osaka, but I’ve only decided to write this post today. Most people know Japan has amazing makeup & skin care finds but what exactly and where to find them?

First off, the best areas for shopping in Osaka and Tokyo are Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi (Osaka) and Takeshita Street (Harajuku, Tokyo) and Ginza (Tokyo). Dotonbori is the least expensive among them, but you can usually spot great deals for makeup & skin care everywhere. Here are my top recommendations of what to shop in Japan, and where to buy them.

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler

Everyone who’s anyone in makeup knows the Shu Uemura eyelash curler is one of the best eyelash curlers in the industry. This trusty tool fits most eye shapes and lasts for years. It retails for around $30 or more outside of Japan but in Japan this costs only ¥1400 ($12.5) before tax. If you’re lucky, you can spot it on sale in some stores for as low as ¥1200! Get it at most convenience stores like Family Mart, Lawson, 7-11, Tomod’s, or specialty tax-free stores like Laox, Donki (Don Quijote), BIC Camera, or any store that sells makeup. Even in Japan it is often sold out, but it’s still widely available. You will probably need at least 2 in your lifetime, so if you can afford to, get at least 2!

Heroinemake Mascara

Like the Shu Uemura eyelash curler, this deserves a special mention as well. Heroinemake mascaras have cult followings in Asia and around the world. They come in two main variants: Long & curl, or Volume & curl. Then each variant also comes in either waterproof or super waterproof. This retails for ¥1000 in Japan but can cost around $16 abroad. Get it in most convenience stores, but I found the best deals in Donki.

Japanese “drugstore” makeup & skin care brands: Shiseido, Kanebo, Kate Tokyo, Canmake, Heroinemake, Shu Uemura, Hadalabo, Lululun, Kose, DHC, Cure, Uno, etc.

Japanese “drugstore” makeup & skin care brands are brands you can usually find in their roadside stalls or convenience stores. What’s amazing is these brands can retail for twice their retail price abroad but in Japan, they are literally everywhere for half the price. I found the best deals in Donki, but I found more brands in LAOX in Ginza.

Japanese brushes: Suqqu, Hakuhodo, Chikuhodo, Koyudo, Bisyodo, Mizuho, etc.

Out of these brands, Suqqu is the most expensive but is the most widely available. Suqqu arguably has the best, best, brushes in the industry but they cost a fortune even in Japan, but more so outside of it. For a list of their stores in Japan, click here. Hakuhodo also has some of the absolute best makeup brushes in the world and you can check out their list of stores here. Likewise, some brushes cost a fortune even in Japan, but they have more affordable options as well and are of course priced the best in Japan. The more affordable brush lines but are still arguably among the best in the world are Chikuhodo, Koyudo, Bisyodo, and Mizuho, among others, but these are all Kumanofude. You can get them in Hiroshima Brand Shop Tau in Ginza, at the 2nd floor, in the Kumanofude Select Store. Here, you can get top quality Japanese artisanal brushes for as low as ¥1200. You can also visit Kumano itself in Hiroshima to get the best prices & selection of Kumanofude.


The best place we found for sneaker shopping was a stall along Takeshita Street in Harajuku. They had shoe boxes piled outside by the roadside and they were all brand new, clean and in mint condition. They cost around a third cheaper than the retail prices in the Philippines but if you’re from the US, I think nothing beats the prices from TJ Maxx or similar so skip shoe-shopping if youre from the US or have a US trip soon. For non-American brand shoes, GU is a great option. They have great quality shoes for less than ¥2000. There are GU branches in both Dotonbori and Ginza.

Wigs, fake nails, cosplay stuff

You can get most of these in Donki, but other convenience stores in Dotonbori also have them. You can also probably get the kookiest ones in Takeshita Street in Harajuku.

DAISO favorites

Lastly, I cannot forget to mention to load up on Daiso favorites. Daiso merchandise cost ¥100-¥400 in Japan, around a third or more cheaper than Philippine and US SRP. Some of my Daiso recommendations are their makeup sponge cleaner, eyebrow pencils (the ones in pink and purple packaging), clear brow gel, laundry mesh bags (random i know), organizers, and mobile phone cases. There’s a large Daiso in both Dotonbori and Ginza.

Pro tip:

Whenever you are buying from a tax-free store, make sure to buy at least ¥5000 worth of merchandise before tax to get them tax-free! Otherwise you will have to pay the tax.

Another thing I should mention is what not to buy in Japan, or at least what kind of items are priced higher than usual or are not worth the luggage space. For makeup, American “drugstore” makeup brands like L’oreal and Maybelline cost almost twice as much than in the Philippines so DO NOT buy them in Japan if you want to save money. For non-makeup items, brand new electronic devices and major photography accessories usually retail for the same, if not higher because of the exchange rate, compared to prices in the Philippines. Authentic character/anime merchandise are also more expensive in Japan, but I think this is because of exclusivity and their authenticity. So even if they’re more expensive, the right thing to do would be to purchase the authentic stuff in Akihabara (Tokyo), or in the character section at Donki, or at the Akihabara store inside Narita airport. Character/anime merchandise can be found for way cheaper online or even in Korea, but now knowing how much they’re priced for in Japan, they’re probably counterfeit. For other products like shoes and accessories, they usually retail for the same but you can spot good deals for half the price in some places. Also quite surprisingly, Uniqlo is priced just the same in Japan as in the Philippines. So unless you find something on sale, or a style you truly want, I suggest save the luggage space for something more, well, unique.

If you want to see my own shopping haul in Japan, watch the video below:

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