You just arrived in Japan and have already managed to find your new Japanese home and now look to furnish it. Or you already live in Japan and need new home appliances. You are in the right place. Here is a quick guide to shopping for home electronics or Kaden in Japanese(家電). To learn the basics of furniture shopping in Japan, go here.
Take it with you or buy it in Japan?
If you are moving from overseas, and your stay in Japan is to be long, you might have to think about what to do with your old home appliances.
It should not be a problem to convince the customs that the home appliances you are sending over are for your own use and therefore tax-exempt.
But depending on your moving situation, the delivery costs could cost you more than buying everything new in Japan.
You should also make sure your furniture will fit your new home in Japan. And that the electronics work with the Japanese voltage system.
If you are on a tight budget, you might want to look into buying the electronics used. The thing with Japanese made appliances is that they are well-engineered. And even after years of use, they are usually still in a good enough condition.
To get things used, look at goodbye sales and giveaways. Another option is recycling shops. Even though not free, many do affordable electronics. For the best recycle shop option, search the local advertisements. The closer to your new home, the better. Being on a tighter budget usually means you also want to save on delivery costs. And secondhand shops generally don’t do free deliveries.
Getting the best deal
If you decide to buy new, there are several things you can do to shave off from the grand total. If the timing is right and everything goes well, you can save up to twenty or even thirty per cent.
It is best to buy everything at once. The quality of Japanese home electronics is somewhat high, and it can be overwhelming to find the right thing from the many seemingly great options.
The solution to this is to get assistance. Use a shopping concierge to help you pick and combine the appliances that fit your home and furniture.
The Japanese sales staff in the big electronics stores are knowledgeable and helpful. If you let them know what your budget is and that you are hoping to get a deal as good as possible, there is a good chance that the staff will jump through hoops to assist you.
The sales staff will likely mention this but look to make a point card or use a credit card to get points/cashback. Buying everything at once means that you are spending a relatively large sum. And that will likely get you some form of loyalty points or something similar.
Go on a rainy day. Most electronic shops have daily sales targets, and there are fewer customers on rainy days. To meet the daily sales targets, most stores do rain discounts.
Buy the previous model. The electronics market in Japan is constantly evolving. Improving home technology is an ongoing struggle. And because of that, there are new and improved models out every year. To make space for new inventory, the older models get priced down. The price difference between ‘the best’ and something that is ‘really good’ can make up for the difference in quality.
Where to buy the big three
There are many options. But considering the availability of stock and the benefits of point cards, discounts and all the other extras that leading chain stores tend to have, these are the usual three most Japanese go for their electronics shopping.
Yodobashi Camera is Japan’s second-largest online electronics retailer. Their stores are close to transport centres, like the Shinjuku store in Tokyo. Even if you choose to buy the electronics from somewhere else, the flagship store in Akihabara is worth a visit- if just for the experience.
Bic Camera is the main rival of Yodobashi Camera. Their approach is much the same except, they go for numbers rather than size. The stores are not as big as Yodobashi Cameras, but there are nearly twice as many and often close to Yodobashi stores.
For some reason, Yamada Denki has the image of being a little posher than the other two, but also more expensive. In reality, the prices and atmosphere are much the same. The difference is that Yamada Denki does not seem to bother securing prime locations as Yodobashi and Bic do. The stores are a little trickier to get to but often carry a wide-ranging stock of larger home electronics like fridges and washing machines.
Relocating and everything that comes with it is not the easiest of things. But with enough planning and perhaps a little local help, you’ll find some joy in it. And Just like the house hunting or buying furniture- getting the electronics for your new Japanese home will become a worthwhile experience.