Foreign visitors spend an average of $493 (46,436 yen) for shopping during their visits to Japan, much higher than for food $317 (29,864 yen) and amusement activities $129 (12,136 yen).
But what do they buy when on their shopping sprees? According to the Japan Tourism Agency, which conducted a survey of foreign visitors, more than half of them (58.2%) spent an average of $90 (8,506 yen) on confectioneries that are sold at souvenir shops, department stores, and shopping centers. Japan, known for its omiyage (gifts to friends, family, and acquaintances) culture, offers an overwhelming number of shopping opportunities wherever you go. Among the overseas visitors with the highest ratios for purchasing confectionaries were: Thailand (88.1%, average amount, $177 / 16,624 yen), China (74.0%, $123 / 11,537 yen), and Taiwan (72.9%, $91 / 8,577 yen).
The category including other food items, along with alcohol and tobacco, is the second-most popular, purchased by some 51.4% of all visitors, at an average amount of $115 / 10,863 yen. In this category, the leaders were: Russia (58.1%, $233 / 21,983 yen), China (54.8%, $149 / 14,049 yen), and Australia (54.4%, $173 / 16,262 yen).
Cosmetics, along with medicine and daily toiletries together, were the third most frequently bought items at a 38.5% rate, averaging 20,270 yen. Visitors from China headed the field (68.4%, $366 / 34,521 yen), followed by those from Taiwan (62.8%, $174 / 16,406 yen) and Thailand (42.3%, $167 / 15,921 yen).
Western clothing, bags, and shoes were next, averaging 32,126 yen, at a rate of 29.8% led by visitors from Hong Kong (56.5%), Taiwan (39.7%), and Thailand (38.8%).
Folk crafts along with Japanese clothing were most popular among long-haul travelers.
When it came to Japanese clothing (kimono) and folk crafts, travelers bought at a rate of 15.5%, said the findings. Leading the way were those from France (35.3%), the U.S. (26.9%), and Canada (28.7%) – all long-haul destinations, indicating their interests tend to lean toward the cultural aspects of Japan.
Some 9.3% of visitors purchased electronic goods such as cameras, video cameras, and watches, averaging a spending level of 50,976 yen, despite Japan being known for producing such goods. One reason could be such items are easily available abroad at lower prices. The countries with the highest ratios in this category were: China (30.4%), India (15.7%), and Russia (15.4%).
Also, electronic items such as personal computers and audio equipment were bought by 9.4%, with the average purchase reaching $349 (32,925 yen). At the top in this category were China (25.6%), Russia (16.0%), and India (11.2%).
Fueled by the Japanese manga comics and Anime boom overseas, purchases in the category, including DVDs, were at a rate of 9.1%, with the average spending level at 10,066 yen. Visitors from France were at the top with a 20.6% rate. They were followed by those from Hong Kong (14.7%) and Australia (10.7%).
Meanwhile, since 2005, the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) each year holds the Charming Japanese Souvenir Contest as a way to promote and foster, as well as discover, attractive Japanese souvenirs in terms of design and quality through the eyes of overseas visitors.
This year the contest had 636 entries sent in, with the winner being an “unryu washi rampu” or Japanese paper lantern selected by a panel of judges from 15 countries and regions as well as experts from Japan including sightseeing and distribution companies.
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