Shopping in Japan

One of the major things different between Japanese and American shopping is the overwhelming presence of vending machines and the almost unlimited variety of things they dispense in Japan. You can even buy magazines from vending machines in Japan.

Overall from what I've read Japanese shopping is not terribly different from American. There are some very fancy stores and stores that are not as fancy (expensive). There's a great variety of merchandise available, although often somewhat expensive.

There are also tax-free shops set up for tourists. This includes a lot of items, including semiprecious and precious stones, pearls, furs, portable TV sets, record players, stereo equipment, radios, cameras, tape recorders, movie cameras and projectors, watches, clocks, and other things. There are around 1400 of these shops, 170 of them in Okinawa.

There are some cultural differences. The wrapping of gifts follows some fairly strict procedures and even the giving of gifts is different. For example in the U.S. when we get a gift we tend to tear into it right away. In Japan you receive the gift graciously and then set it aside to open later. Also there is often an obligation to give the person a gift of equal value at some other time.

Wedding and funeral gifts are usually money but even here the wrapping of the money follows cultural guidelines not present in the U.S.

Another difference is that there is a lot of daily shopping for groceries in Japan, unlike the U.S. where we tend to go to some huge grocery store once a week.

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