Have you purchased something through Duty free? The one you come across in an airplane or airport when you travel.
Actually, I had never done that in my life, until just one month ago, because for me, the less stuff you have, the easier to move around. So compared to the extra burden that you would carry in you journey, the discount rate was not that attractive to me.
But this time, the evolution of Duty free blew my mind, since I saw a lot of stores which adapted Duty free system not in “air XXX” but in my home townーOsaka, Japanーand I could save around 20,000 jPY (around 160 USD) just with Duty Free.
Honestly, I didn’t think I was eligible for Duty Free in Japan, and I assume that I am not the only one. Therefore, I hope this can be of any help not only for foreigners who travel to Japan (maybe other countries, too), but also for Japanese who live abroad and return temporarily.
First of all, I didn’t check other stores, but the fact that my favorite 2 storesーUNIQLO and Yodobashi Camera where I always visit when I return to Japanーoffered this service implies that there can be more stores available for this. As soon as I returned, I visited UNIQLO as always, since its cloths have simple design and good quality. After making a purchase, I saw one sign about Duty Free. Then I went back to the classier to ask about it. Then it turned out that there are 2 conditions for Duty free to be applied: (1) for those including Japanese who stay less than 6 months in the country with a proof of passport and (2) those who buy products for more than 10,000 JPY (in the case of UNIQLO).
As soon as I figured that I passed the first condition, I looked at my receipt, which said 8,000 JPY. Then I asked if I could get discount if I buy something which costs more than 2,000 JPY to meet the second condition, and I was told that as long as you buy on the same day at the same store, it’s ok.
From the moment I left the store on with Duty Free stamp on my passport, I was so excited to try this in another favorite store, Yodobashi Camera where you can get almost anything (from electronic device to business suits). And after pondering for a few hours, I made a decision to buy something I wanted, MacBook (!!), since my windows lasted almost 5 years, and it was time to buy new one.
Thank you, Toshiba 2 (my second Toshiba), and welcome MacBook Air (256GB)!!
Even though it is not the newest model, I am grateful that I can try out new laptop. And in addition to 8% of Duty free, I was told that if I use foreign credit card, I would get another 5% off (Unfortunately my visa debit did not pass through the card reader for some reason, though).
Despite all of my excitement with my new products and discount, however, I started worrying about the custom check at the airport as I looked at the stamp on my passport with Duty free form. The store person told me that I might not be able to open the box, since this is for other country use, which is the nature of Duty free.
But how could I stand not opening new product, especially when I needed to backup all the data from my Toshiba 2 to my new Mac?! So as soon as I got home, I opened up the Mac.
And since I had never bought anything with Duty free, let alone in my home country, I had no idea of where the strict custom check place was (I kept wondering if the check would come before or after checking in suit case or at the same time, etc.).
And the check-in went without problem, and I was told that the check will come after that (but had I put some Duty free goods in my checked suitcase, there would have been no way to check?)
Then finally I was about to pass the custom place, where there were many people. And the employee just told me irritatedly to take the form on my passport on my own and give it to him. What was all my worrisome and nervousness?
Anyway, no wonder I did not know about the many duty free services in Japan, given that this service started to increase less than a year ago. According to Japan National Tourism Organization, the Japan Tourism Agency is working to double the number of tax-free shops by 2020. And it became clear that the regular product like computer (as opposed to consumable) can be opened even in Japan.
In conclusion, I had a luck to be eligible for Tax free although it was pretty scary at first. Overall, this is a good news for temporal visitors, especially when Japanese government is about to increase the Tax rate.
In addition to JR pass about which I wrote in my previous entry, I feel like I am becoming less Japanese as time goes by. Although I can buy something for tax free, I will not lose my Samurai sprit (?). Viva Duty Free!