I was talking with the beautiful Emi and Lea and we joked about all the stupid ways we’ve eaten cheap in Japan in order to afford all the clothes we wanted. One of the frequent comments I hear often is Tokyo is very expensive, and somewhat that’s true but I don’t think it has to be. I sometimes think about how much I would spend for my apartment in the states  along with eating the way I do (lots of veggies, very few carbs). It would be astronomical and impossible (Tokyo tears down old buildings unlike my 100 year old place).

This isn’t a post on eating healthy (although some things are) if you want to eat healthy I still like the post I made about eating healthy in Japan. This post is more about going beyond the tips I see everywhere else. I see the same tips everywhere, and they’re good tips, but I think we can do better! I’m going to talk about getting the most out of your money, even at the cheap places. It’s also about sample meals to get you started on how to eat cheap and stay cheap.

Some tips are for people with a stove but even without airbnb some hotels now have stoves or at least a microwave, so I am trying not to limit it to just long term residents.


Eat plates of sushi on a budget? Sure thing!

Don’t travel to eat if you can’t bike or walk it or aren’t there already

Traveling on public transit in Japan adds up. Paying 1,000 yen ($10) to eat somewhere you’ve just thrown away $10. Even a trip like Shibuya to Shinjuku will still set you back 380 yen round trip. And Shibuya has tons of eating options.

Eat local, like hella local. If you can’t walk to it, it’s not worth it. Just start making a list of where food is near your hotel/airbnb/apartment and then main areas you’ll be in. Use this guide or google “cheap akihabara food” or anything like that. Some websites to note: time out tokyo’s cheap eats tsunagu cheap eats tokyo

Preparation is how people save money

Linked to the other tip above.

Gurunavi the website for restaurants in Japan is now in English. Start making a google map of where you’ll be of places you want to eat. Or just a list in Notes you can put on your phone. If you’re planning on visiting some area check their restaurants, you can find prices on Gurunavi without overpaying past your budget.

Also preparation is making yourself snacks for the day ahead. Instead of buying some stall food, you can eat a 79 yen banana you carried. More money for souvenirs. Or carrying your bottle of water so you don’t have to spend 120 yen on just water. These little costs add up, especially when a 400 yen meal = 3 waters bought.

Grocery stores – The cheap staples

When I read people’s how to save money on food in Japan posts it’s always saying go after 8:00pm and they mark down items. And it’s a great tip, but it’s not enough. Mark downs are fine, but let’s talk cheap staples.

But before I get to that. NOT ALL GROCERY STORES ARE THE SAME.  Chances are if you’re shopping under a department store you’re paying more and more = too much. Seiyu is the cheapest chain but that only matters if one is close to you. Other than that just stay away from department store grocery stores. They’re fancy, but they cost more.


Eggs I bought in Japan along with some tiny pack bacon for a little protein and fat.

Eggs – are incredibly cheap and wonderfully delicious in Japan. They do use a different chicken than the US and their yolks are much darker and gorgeous. Yes I called an egg gorgeous, I love eggs!


Spinach, Carrots, Cabbage – Usually the cheapest vegetables no matter the season. I eat carrots as breakfast or snacks in Japan. 54 yen for a single carrot. That’s some cheap food with vitamins. Man I try to get away with saying just healthy things, but we need our veggies! A simple cheap breakfast is a piece of toast and scrambled eggs with spinach.

Bananas and in season Mikan- Often in season and often the cheapest fruit. Full of vitamins and fructose for energy. Mikan season can make oranges very cheap and I can eat a bag a day, but definitely be choosy about the season because the prices can really get expensive.

Frozen meals – Frozen meals are found within grocery stores along with frozen veggies. While they are not necessarily cheap if you’re the type of person who keeps saying they’ll cook at home but rarely does, they’re so much cheaper than always throwing out food. Or ordering that pizza when you’re tired or hungover. Always keep one frozen meal in your place if you’re staying longer than a week. What if you wake up sick? Heading sick to shop is horrible!

Tofu and Konjac – Tofu is cheap, plentiful and filling. Just find a sauce you like and nibble. Although my staple meal in language school was: scrambled tofu, one egg, spinach, and a pork/beef mix with spices. Filling, cheap and always available. Konjac is a great cheap food made from yams. It’s low carb, filling and can be shoved in soups, stir frys or anything you feel like fixing.

Late sale meats – Don’t pay full price for meats you rich kid of instagram! Discounted meat or stay veggie because meat is quite pricey in JP. Or gyudon (below)


A spinach bakery bread plus some cheap meat along with shishito and onion.

Stop buying expensive drinks – There’s so many fun drinks on the market. Healthy ones, horrible ones everything. But it can really add up and not good filling calories. Always buy cartons of drinks. You can pour them into bottles if you’re out and about that day. But a paper carton the size of 3 drinks is usually cheaper than one bottled drink. I buy carton coffee, juice, and tea in Japan. Even in konbini they’re usually 140 yen.

Caffeine = Sun Tea or Coffee – If you bring tea bags from home or just buy in bulk in Japan you can just make sun tea (leaving a tea bag in water out for a while, preferably in the sun but it works overnight in the fridge too). Tea bags are always cheaper than buying lots of tea. Cold coffee which Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have been advertising so much is just coffee left to steep. You can buy coffee “tea bags” and do the sun tea way. All cheaper options than Starbucks or even canned coffee. If you aren’t into this, then cartons are always cheaper than individual bottles.

Convenience stores – You’re usually paying too much


Oden the exception. That puffball is actually an egg.

Everything including that soda you want is usually 10 yen cheaper in a grocery store. Convenience doesn’t mean cheap. The rare exception is oden season (fall to spring) or snack needs. Oden is a soup made with a ton of things, but it’s incredibly cheap and filling (rocketnews on Oden). The other good reason to be in a convenience store is quick fried chicken, corn dogs (American dogs) and weiners on a stick. No not healthy, but quick and cheap.

I also make an exception for 7-11’s “salad chicken” it’s herbed and precooked. It’s really easy to use a chicken breast for two meals without clean-up. I tended to make chicken sandwiches with the herbed chicken, an egg and some spinach.

Gyudon restaurants are heaven for the poor

Gyudon chains and beef bowl restaurants that are great and battle it out for being the best, most and cheapest. The three big chains are Sukiya, Yoshinoya, and Matsuya.


And these do get mentioned in eating cheap in Japan, but what about hacking the Gyudon?

Hack one: Order the largest gyudon and split it between two people (take out) or save the rest for tomorrow for yourself. Gyudon does keep decently. A regular size set at Matsuya is 580 yen, you can get the big size for 890 yen. Split between two meals or people you just spent 445 a meal or just $4.20.


Hack two: Add on! Topping sets are usually cheaper than set – by – set toppings so get a topping set. Most include an egg (good for you). You may find

Hack three: Their seasonal special is often cheaper. Ultra onion? Yup it’s usually cheaper than just ordering more onion toppings.


I got gyudon to go the night before and I am using their side kimchi the next day for lettuce wraps (bacon + kimchi in lettuce).

Gyudon is incredibly cheap. Not the best thing for you, but $5.00 meals are possible thanks to gyudon!

Tenya – Tempura on the cheap!

Tempura places in Japan can be really fancy ordeals. It’s not just a side order you find in a sushi restaurant. Instead a lot of Michelin starred restaurants in Japan are tempura places with pricey menus. However, Tenya (site) is a fabulous cheap chain in Japan.

Again you can use the big size takeaway hack to eat for two on the cheap. Their sets are their big value meals. I prefer their 上天丼 (link) with shrimp and lotus root. One meal is 670 yen or $6.50. Again a super cheap meal. They have a one coin bowl priced for 500 yen, but the extra 170 is worth it for the extra shrimp.

Tendon Soba Udon is another tempura cheap chain.

Sushi can be done on the cheap!

Before I lived in Japan I never thought sushi would be a way to eat cheap in Japan, but it is! Discount sushi at grocery stores after 8 p.m. is definitely some place to get your easy cheap sushi fix on. However there are a lot of conveyor belt sushi (kaiten sushi) chains that thrive on being cheap.

Kaisen Misakiko (海鮮三崎港) is my favorite cheap sushi chain in Tokyo. I eat in their Koenji restaurant a lot.  You can eat a good meal for 800 yen and their hot green tea is included. They have a lot of locations around Tokyo in some great areas like Nakano, Koenji, Shimokitazawa and Shinjuku (some of my favorite places in Tokyo). English menu screens so not much interaction required.


Family Restaurants

It’s such a odd topic, but family restaurants are so random to Japan. Saizeriya, Dennys, Johnathon, Gusto, Royal Host, Bamiyan, Bikkuri Donki to name a few. Rocketnews survey puts Ootoya at the top and I’ve written how much I like it. Saizeriya which does basic Italian-like food and Bikkuri Donki which does hamburg are my favorite cheaper side ones.

Family restaurant tips:

Get the sets. More filling and more food for a less. If you’re really broke head for the Saizeriya Doria. It’s 368 yen with an egg. Enough to get you through a meal without hurting your bank.

Don’t be swayed by the drink bar. It’s just money not being spent on food.

If you need vegetables get them here. Family restaurants lately have main course salads that are actually filled with things like avocado and tomatoes and other healthy goodness that is hard to find on the cheap. Saizeriya has a 599 main course salad. Also they have a few decent vegetable options in the side menus for 199. Main salad and a veggie side for 800 yen? Yes please. For my low carb people even a big size antipasto meat plate and side of spinach is 900 yen.

Near Shibuya 109? Try Black Brown!

Not exactly a family restaurant but I couldn’t figure where to put it. Black Brown (google) is an incredibly cheap pasta place located just behind Shibuya 109. Just after electronics store Labi in the basement of the next building. When I lived in Shibuya I ate here once a week because it was cheap and so close to shopping. Their pasta is good as well as their sandwiches. They have a ramen-style press button ordering system and then cook the surprisingly decent food in front of you. Pasta or a sandwich can be 500 yen. You can also bring a pitcher of water to your table and hydrate. Seriously it’s cheap and good.

Bakery Meals

If you don’t want to cook and are okay with bread life, Japanese bakeries are amazing and do little sandwiches or weiners with bread or bunches of items that run around 300-500 yen. If you add some spinach at home or make a salad you aren’t doing too bad for yourself. (see photo above)


On sale baked goods. 88 yen plus brewed coffee. You can start your day for 150 yen only!

Don’t drink, and definitely don’t drink outside your place, and definitely predrink

Alcohol is expensive and it makes (me) make expensive choices. Best way to avoid all that tomfoolery is just don’t drink. But Japan is a drinking culture, so be cheap. Buy drinks at your grocery store (konbini more expensive) and drink  at home before. Or at least pre drink and save some of the alcohol cost. One drinking night can ruin all your cheap saving during the day.


Three drinks in for 500 yen or three drinks out for 3,000 yen?

How much should I be spending on food a day?

Personally I like average my food spending at 3,000 yen a day. That’s including eating out somewhere fun with my friends. I spend 300-400 yen on breakfast (toast, spinach, egg, coffee). Lunch could be ramen or kaiten-sushi, since I hunt for cheap places maybe 800 yen. Which leaves me with 1,800 yen to eat with friends.

I can go over that, but it’s a pretty standard point to think eating for 3,000 yen or $30 a day and you’ll eat some good food! Now I do like to drink with my friends so I will spend more on days with that, but if you’re smart 3,000 yen is a good point. Lowest maybe 1,500-2,000 yen but it does become tricky if you’re not eating at specific places. I’ve done some examples of super cheap below to get you started if you’re in a spending crunch.


Three examples of eat cheap in Japan days 1,570-1,800 yen ($15-$18 dollars):

Here are some examples using the places I listed to get you started on how to eat for cheap especially as a tourist.


Bakery bread and coffee – 400 yen

Tenya – 670 yen

Black Brown – 500 yen

Total – 1,570


Egg and Toast – 300 yen

Sushi – 800 yen

Saizeriya – 700 yen

Total – 1,800


Coffee and Banana – 300 yen

Gyudon – 450 if split or 600 alone for smaller

Grocery store past 8am ready made food – 700 yen

Total: 1,450 or 1,600 yen


Three meals a day. Not skimping on food and boom, you’re fed for cheap! Mostly I didn’t list cooking at home. Again if you eat at home it’s usually always cheaper so eating breakfast at home and heading home for dinner is your cheapest tourist option. Or if you’re a late riser, I suggest eating lunch right before you leave and only eating dinner out. You can get closer to 1,500 daily if you eat two meals at home.


What’s your discount hack to eat cheap in Japan or favorite cheap meal in Japan?

I’ve had tons of topics to post lately but I keep coming back to Ank Rouge. Some fall trends I want to talk about, summer tips, Disney Tokyo survival guide, more vintage, some skincare reviews, some make-up reviews. But I keep going to back to want to talk about Ank Rouge, since this blog started as a trend blog and it’s still my interest.

Ank Rouge basics:

since: 2010.
number of stores: 10
head: Rie Matsuoka
style: Sweet girly now Larme Street
insta: https://www.instagram.com/ankrouge_official/
webstore: http://ailand-store.jp/

Some Ank Rouge History and Okarie distancing

Ank Rouge started in 2010 by Popteen model Rie Matsuoka, aka Okarie (松岡里枝 croozblog, insta) . She has helping with the design and look of the brand under the title “Creative Director” and in the beginning Ank was Okarie and Okarie wore Ank. She may have been the Creative Director but she was also the image model aka the face of Ank Rouge.

Since 2015 there’s been quite a distancing of Okarie’s tastes and Ank Rouge and now Ank Rouge is a different animal. Okarie is now very Seiso/Otona Kawaii and prefers magazines such as Bijin Hakka and Sweet. Ank Rouge is now very street Larme. I’m going to show the new collection first, some old images and also some thoughts on the new Ank Rouge look.

Ank Rouge new style “Innocent Black” for Fall 2016

For the Fall Ank Rouge now has two new image models: Vivi main model Emma Jasmine(瑛茉ジャスミン insta) and Larme model Nana Katou (加藤ナナ insta)

Their theme for this collection is Innocent Black. The main concept for the collection is girly and monotone looks. It’s not just sweet but coquetteish feeling. A street and girly mix giving a casual and playful atmosphere. Using black at least twice is the center of this look. <- their words translated

ank7ank1 ank2 ank3 ank4 ank5 ank6 ank8 ank9

I wish they showed off the clothes better but when they’re making such a dramatic change I guess lighting was needed to carry this new Ank Rouge.

In the past I’ve always seen Ank Rouge as a more tailored Liz Lisa or sometimes just a Liz Lisa knock off. :sweatbubble: Now it seems they’ve gone full Larme and if anything gotten edgey and appear very inspired by One*Spo.

Ank Rouge of Old

If you’re not familiar with old Ank Rouge here you go:

Ank from 2012:

Ank from 2014(?):


Ank from 2015:


It’s obvious they were slow moving from Liz Lisa to Seiso and Larme, but this Street is a brand new thing for Ank.

Fall Collection Innocent Black worn by Shop Staff

You know this blog. The photoset of a collection is well and good but how are everyday girls wearing this? Specifically for this the Ank shop staff.

ank-shopstaff-look ankrouge-shopstaff-look6 ankrouge-shopstaff-look5 ankrouge-shopstaff-look4ank-shopstaff-look2


Well Ank Rouge has really stuck to the Street Larme profile with its shop staff. Some are still trying to bring the old Ank Rouge in combination, but it’s mostly Street Larme.

Trends to note for Fall 2016

Ank has shown off several trends to talk about for 2016. These are mostly Larme trends with a few trends heading into all fashion. All Fashion trends marked with a heart

  • Slip Dresses ♥
  • Chokers especially Ribbon chokers ♥
  • Collar details
  • Sukajans done different ways ♥
  • Robe-tie jackets ♥
  • Velvet ♥
  • Lace dresses ♥
  • “Dad” caps
  • Baby pink x black x white

Final Notes


Although Ank Rouge has been talking up all these Street Larme looks. This set-up is their current Fall top seller. A more traditional Ank look.


Ank is part of a larger clothing group the Ailand group featuring Cecil McBee and Be Radiance. None really known for their prints, but I feel this print done in skirt and onepiece style is really worth noting. It reminds me of classic Jesus Diamanate and MA*RS prints but of a better quality than current MA*RS. My old style readers should pay notice to this cute print  :hearts3:

Is this change bad? Good? It’s for the chirruns!

I’ve been talking about the differences, but I don’t think this is necessarily a bad change in Ank Rouge. Lately there’s so much grown up fashion dominating Shibuya 109 brands. The Onee-gyaru and basics boom has taken over so many brands. It feels like there’s quite a pressure to grow up. I’m glad there’s a bit more youthful style in Ank Rouge. However I can’t see this winning over longtime Ank fans so I guess we’ll see how next season looks?

 Long time no blog? Yup

Everytime I post here lately I feel like I have to apologize for being slow. Blame Disney, Olympics and Pokemon Go this time. Really though it’s my aging computer and the problems that causes. If only I didn’t have to use my laptop to blog, but editing photos is necessary. Next year though! New computer! Hopefully I can afford it! Currently though I have some trips to take and trips are fun new computers are just new computers  :regret:

In the meantime I’m currently doing a 10 day Japanese and Korean face mask review on Snapchat. :happydance: If you want to see some shaky camerawork, me looking dumb in masks, and my derp voice you’ve got it (yay?). If not you can wait for the full monty to go on the blog later.


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One of the things I really enjoy doing when I visit for a long time in Japan is actually seeing trends in play on the streets and I got to see traveling how the Japanese Summer Fashion Trends this season played out. I blogged all about Spring trends for Larme, Otona Kawaii and Onee-Gyaru. But those trends are what brands wanted to sell. Right now what are young ladies in Japan actually buying AND wearing?

Since I pride this blog on real clothes and everyday fashion this is the most universal-doll post in a while.

I actually started writing this post right when I got back from Japan, but I am gudetama level lazy. I’m happy this got voted top in the polls on twitter. Although eventually probably all of them will come out on the Doll. If you’ve got a question or comment, I’m always twitter reachable!


Here are four shop staff from Shibuya 109 to show some of the trends I’m talking in this post: Esperanza, Duras, One*Spo and Cecil McBee

Bandana Print


This cute trend is really taking off. Saint Laurent did a long bandana print stole for Spring and I think it’s fueled the creative juices of a lot of brands. I saw tons of ladies at Tokyo Disney Sea twin with friends by wearing a cute cotton cut-sew and paired bandanas around their neck. It was very camper-cute. It’s also such a cheap way to be on trend for the season.

Moussy did a giant bandana print top-dress to push the trend further. And there’s also bandana-print scrunchies and other fun mixes.


To show how popular it is I picked just one brand: Envy M. Here it is done four ways. As a novelty battery charger, on the bottom of a t-shirt dress, in the flouncy off shoulder style like in the Larme Spring trend post, and worn off a bag

Trend range: Booming! It’s an everyday girl style.

Probability it’ll head into Fall: Duras paired sweaters with bandana neckerchiefs for their Fall exhibition so this is a yes. But I really think more paisley prints will reign in Fall.

Side trend: Scarves

Not as big as bandana print but scarves in all prints are popping up. Duras of course did hair scarves. Lip Service is selling them in pretty prints. Redy Azel were giving scarves away as a novelty. The shop staff at Redy Azel worked theirs in different ways like scarves as bracelets.


Redy Azel showing off ways to wear their scarf novelty.

Trend range: Small but accessory trends are sometimes as important as clothing trends.

Probability it’ll head into Fall: This is something I feel is going to go into Fall and bring more color and prints than we’ve seen in previous Falls.


Left Rienda and Right Esperanza (a shoe store) but she’s in every trend right now denim as a dress, white cardigan, white fedora

White Summer Fedora

It was raining one day and my hair was not having it. I decided that was the day I was going to buy a hat. If you know me, you know I love hats. So I walked into Shibuya 109 and browsed most every store for a hat which by the way at Headstarr the hat shop in Shibuya 109 has Trump for President hats… and Hillary hats… American politics you just can’t escape it.

Again and again I saw the white loose weave fedora being displayed. From Murua to Spiral Girl to Sly to Lip Service. It’s definitely the winner of the hat of Japanese summer fashion trends. Like Goldilocks they all felt a little off, but I finally settled on one from Lip Service. Since then I’ve wore it every chance I could. I will probably wear it to death this summer. The open weave really keeps the head cool and I am all about that sun protection.

Trend range: EVERYWHERE especially in gyaru and otona kawaii brands

Probability it’ll head into Fall: 0! Total summer trend, but enjoy and shade while you can.


Murua and Duras showing the silhouette of the season

Spaghetti Strap Flared Bustier and Flared Bottoms sets

The flared bustier is huge right now I’d say it’s the biggest Japanese summer fashion trend.I talked about this in the Larme Spring trend post. From Rienda to Lowry’s Farm. It’s for every kei. I bought three. It’s a really body friendly look except for those with hips since showing the waist is key. Hides the tummy pouch and many are even kind to busty girls (take it from a busty girl). They look stellar when paired with wide pants. They’re cute with boyfriend jeans. They pretty much look good with all pants and shorts styles for this season. Printed flared bustiers paired with wide-leg pants sets are sprouting everywhere. They’re in denim, resort florals, plain knit, white lace. All the trend patterns you can find a set-up.

The other mirror trend is a maxi or mini dress done in a flared bustier style. This silhouette is truly the shape of the season. And look how perfect it looks on vacation or at the beach. It’s so current and summer.

Trend range: As stated, so many. Flared bustier is the life.

Probability it’ll head into Fall: Murua has done them, but I’m not sure how sure a warm weather resort look goes well into Fall.



Rienda, MA*RS, One Way just get on a cardigan with any look

Super thin knit knee-length cardigans

These are so huge right now. They’ve shown up on mannequins in front of every store from Resexxxy to Sly. I went into Cecil McBee and a pushy shop staff tried to make me choose between the four styles they had. FOUR!

I love this trend so much. First it helps with UV. Skin protection is key. Secondly they go long enough and around enough to hide everywhere cellulite shows. Back in 2012 I was trendwatching high-low skirts aka the mullet skirt and mentioned how they’re kind to hiding cellulite. Long cardigans do the same thing, without that mullet feel.

Cardigans in summer? Yes because they are super thin material.

Trend range: ALL. I think in every style you will see a bustier paired with a super thin knee-length cardigan.

Probability it’ll head into Fall: Nope. Chunky 3-d knits are the theme for Winter.



Other trends of note: Arm details on white tops (flared, lace), Denim as everything: dresses and tops and skirts and hair accessories, Border lettering, straight leg “mom” pants



Phew I’m finally done with this post! My photoshop keeps crapping out so I keep having to restart and fix. Because of this I may work on some less photoshop needy posts for a while. But since second in the twitter poll was summer in Japan tips, it’s my next post.  :stepup:


Which is your favorite trend of the season?


I’m planning on revamping my instagram soon, but only for blog stuff. Please stay tuned. I’ll have some sneak peaks of photos of posts and some make-up and skincare stuff on it too :)


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There is a lot of vintage luxury goods in Japan and to understand why you must look at the history and meteoric rise of the Japanese luxury market. I’ve written about the rise of luxury brands in Japan in my Japanese fashion history terms post, but here’s a little more of their history. If you like history, luxury brands, quirky fashion info settle in because it’s so much text. This is a Japanese Fashion University  and Vintage Luxury Brand in Japan series combining!

Luxury Brands in Japan through the Decades


Post War Japan – The Rise of the Middle Class and the desire for Western Luxury

There have always been wealthy people in Japan, but Post War Japan created a more middle class which turned to luxury goods. While luxury items such as real estate and cars were not especially practical or accessible in Japan, especially in Tokyo. Middle class looked to Western luxury like jewelry, clothing, handbags and furs as a way to display their new wealth.

“Unfortunately, there was little to be had in Japan; distribution was extremely limited. To satisfy the surge in demand, entrepreneurial Japanese merchants traveled to Europe, bought items at full retail price, shipped them back to Japan, and sold them for more than three or four times more in shops around Tokyo, creating what is known as a parallel market.  The parallel market cofounded luxury executives back in Europe: their flagship stores were getting cleaned out stock, and they had no control over how their product was being sold overseas.” (Deluxe)

Side note: Chanel and other brands try to track and ban third-party resellers like this even today.




1970s Luxury Brands in Japan – Trying to meet Demand in a Harsh Trade Environment

In the 1970s only a few overseas luxury brands has broken into the Japanese market. Even though the Japanese were very into luxury brand goods before they ever hit the Japanese shores. In 1976 Louis Vuitton in Paris had to put a limit on the amount of goods sold to a Japanese tourist because they couldn’t handle the stock.

Only a few luxury brands were actually in Japan at the time. Gucci, Hermes and Loewe were currently selling to the Japanese public. This was because to operate a large corporation like a luxury house you had to team up with a Japanese company to do business in Japan. This is a part of trade regulations in Japan. Slowly in the 1970s there was small deregulations (all over the globe there was vast deregulations going on) but despite that Japan was conservative and only allowed foreign businesses to own 50% of a company. This makes setting up in Japan not cost effective to luxury brands. Also Gucci and Hermes can put their name on the item, but they must pair up with a speciality or department store, using their manufacturing base. This was common also in US and Europe.




Edible luxury. Birkin Chocolates at the Hermes Cafe in Ginza

1980s Luxury Brands in Japan – The Biggest Consumer of Luxury in the World

The 1980s were filled with a boom in the luxury market known as manufacture of luxury brands through licensing. During this time brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci made everything from candles to handkerchiefs.

Side note: Some of these manufacturing for licensing contracts still exist like many brand sunglasses such as Chanel, Gucci and Prada. Or luxury brand perfumes is also another example. In Japan under handkerchiefs and hand towels you can buy Yves Saint Laurent and Vivienne Westwood goods not found in anywhere else because of this licensed manufacturing contract.


Side note: Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Chanel never agreed to these contracts in their clothing or jewelry making their vintage items more valuable.


The thunder crack boom of luxury spending in Japan was so big that after opening in 1978 Louis Vuitton sold more in Japan than it did with its two stores in France. There were 6 stores in Japan compared to the two in France. That number grew to 44 in 2012.

Fun fact: The first Chanel and Louis Vuitton individual stores came to Japan first before the United States (both had previously used contracts with big department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman). If you see a tag sewn into a Chanel blouse that says Saks Fifth Avenue it’s because of this department store contract.

Louis Vuitton opened in Japan in 1978 and Chanel in 1980. It was actually only due to Japanese vacationing in Hawaii did the first Chanel store opened in the United States in 1984. Louis Vuitton aggressively pushed into Japan in the 1980s.

The economic bubble burst around mid 90s during and a little after the bubble meant 1985-99 was really a true boom in luxury brands in Japan. A supernova of a boom that made Japan the biggest consumer of luxury goods from late 1980s to 2009.

Louis Vuitton built their first Ginza store in 1981 with the hopes of making a luxury street like the Fifth Avenue in the US, Saint Honore in Paris or Monte Napoleon in Milan. By the end of the 1980s twenty stand-alone brand stores opened in Ginza.


louisvuitton-osakaFlagship stores like Cartier and Louis Vuitton in Osaka

1990s Luxury Brands in Japan – Bubble Burst but still Strong

Even after the bubble burst in the 1990s some people still had money and brand allegiance had been built. The only growing purchasers were so called “Parasitic Singles” in Japan. These were working age (25-34) men and women who still lived with their parents and spent all their disposable money on luxury and travel.

“The major companies — Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, and Christian Dior — managed to secure dramatic growth during the mid-1990s, at a time when total import sales were falling.” (luxury society)

Louis Vuitton from one boutique in the 1990s was clearing 100 million USD in sales, while Chanel in another was doing 60 million. Louis Vuitton from 1978 to the end of the 90s had grown 50% in sales. (Deluxe)

At the end of the 1990s there was a stat thrown around that if you distributed all the Louis Vuitton in Japan to all the women that one in four women would own a Louis Vuitton good. Or another staggering statistic that 30 million Japanese own a Louis Vuitton good. This is despite the prices in Japan being 30-40% higher than in Europe due to import fees and currency exchange rates. (Cult of the Luxury Brand)





Luxury Brands 2000s onwards – Slowing but still a Goliath

Despite the problems of the 1990s, Tokyo’s luxury area Ginza saw its first “mega flagship store” of 11 floors with Hermes in 2001. The 2000s were the age of “mega flagship stores” being built in Ginza. Chanel and Louis Vuitton followed in Hermes’ footsteps.

Flagship was they key in 2000 and just fifteen years ago Omotesando was changed from a family neighborhood near the Meji shrine into a stylish hub of stand-alone luxury stores. Louis Vuitton opened in 2002, Prada in 2003, Dior in 2004 and finally the stylish Omotesando Hills luxury mall in 2006. All of these Omotensando developments were being planned in the 1990s, it was thanks to the Parasite Singles and bubble leftovers that Omotensando came into fruition.

Even now Omotesando is considered the place were younger luxury men and women shop, while Ginza is for the older clientele. Even though both were only built twenty years apart.

The youth luxury has also brought contemporary brands into the surrounding neighborhood of Aoyama with stand alone stores. Acne Studios, Alexander Wang and Jil Sander.

Side note: These luxury stand-alone stores have been sited as a reason department stores are going bankrupt recently. Department stores that have brand shops inside them charge rent for the space, but also take a percentage of the profits of the sales. Luxury brands sell big ticket items so this is big money. Being inside a department store makes brand shops not have to pay for costs such as construction, land, or upkeep but in the long run its not cost effective to pay rent AND a percentage when you can build your own and keep all of that money.

In the late 2000s there were finally signs of slowing of luxury. Some brands are projected to see 15 to 30 percent drops in their Japanese revenue base for fiscal 2008 (luxury society). But even then before Japan dropped to number two behind China, Japan accounted for 40% of luxury goods sold worldwide. (Cult of The Luxury Brand)

Even now Japan is the second largest luxury market. China has risen to number one. Asia’s love for luxury makes it no coincidence that Chanel has shown three times in the last four years in Asia for the Métiers dArt  shows.

Japan’s current strength on number two has a lot to do with Chinese regulations and taxation on their goods so Chinese travel to Japan to make purchases with the cheap travel deals and weak Japanese yen. But it also has a lot to do with the history of Japanese luxury. Your mother had a Louis Vuitton bag, you may want one too. Or it’s in the psyche now that overseas luxury is quality.

In only 30 years overseas luxury brands have really changed the Japanese spending habits.




Just as stocked as a flagship, a vintage store in Osaka selling Chanel

Currently Japan’s perfect vintage storm

Because of the huge booms of 1980 and 1990s of buying in Japan there is so much vintage luxury brand in Japan now. With the slowing in the local economy many Japanese are still looking at branded goods but on the cheaper resale market. Chinese tourism has also been a factor. All big vintage stores in Japan have at least one Chinese speaker on staff. The luxury vintage brand demand in Japan is so much that buyers for the vintage stores are visiting Paris auctions and resale shops and bringing goods into Japan as well. Which is why the Vintage Brand in Japan series is going on.



Shout outs and references

I linked to a few things I sourced but this article is very sourced by the book “Louis Vuitton Japan: The building of Luxury” which is out of print but I have in hardcover. The book is also sourced in most every article or book I found about luxury goods in Japan and for a good reason. It’s a bit dry, but very interesting. I also read but didn’t directly quote The Economist’s section of the Asian Luxury Market forecast in 2013.

Although I didn’t use it as a source it’s a perfect time to shout out one of my favorite fashion news blogs: Business of Fashion. If you’re interested in the fashion industry, especially high fashion it’s a wonderful resource.


Vintage Brand in Japan and Beyond

:bow: Intro to the Series

:bow: Where to Buy Vintage Brand online Worldwide (Japan concentrate)

:bow: Reasons I’m a Vintage Fan

:bow: A History of Luxury Brands in Japan (THIS ONE)

:bow:  Japan’s First Wave of Resellers

:bow: Japan’s Second Wave of Resellers store talks and reviews (multipost)

:bow: Popular Vintage Brands and key pieces from each brand (multipost)

:bow: Navigating on-line and in personal buying of Vintage Brand and learning market price (multipost)

:bow:  related eating at the Chanel restaurant Beige in Ginza Chanel

:bow:  possible… My full vintage Chanel collection

:bow:  possible… Chanel vintage jewelry and clothing authentication guide



Wow two months without a post? :heartbreak: I didn’t really expect to post while I was in Japan for a month. I usually forget sleeping then too. Then I got home and had a bunch of stuff to do and man’s parents visited and I actually made our place look nice instead of living in a great loft and my crap just piled inside. I really hate decorating. I think there’s a reason we lived on a mattress without a bedframe (which we now again have #adult) and used the money to travel instead. Balance. I also tried to do more ATL things. Almost a year in and it still feels ATLien (sorry for the wordplay Outkast). And I got back to daily working out, hahaha why. I shitpost a lot on snapchat, feel free to follow (metoomitsu) :smiley:


follow the Doll on bloglovin | Universal-Doll facebook | Mitsu on twitter “miss_mitsu” | metoomitsu on instagram | metoomitsu on snapchat | metoomitsu tumblr – join/add/follow? :bow: