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Trend alert: 100-yen stores (think 99-cent stores) are hot in Japan

June 29, 2010 |  2:18 pm

100 yen shops

Much like Angelenos, the Japanese are known for their love of shopping. But lately, they've become quite frugal. On Sunday, The Times' Travel section explored the trend of 100-yen stores in Japan. And no, we're not talking off-brand shampoos and old candy. Freelancer Andrew Bender writes:

A single 100-yen coin (plus an additional 5 yen for tax, totaling about $1.15) buys you more than just plastic tchotchkes. At 100-yen shops you'll find ingenious, well-designed goods you probably didn't know you needed. Sixty dollars can outfit a kitchen (with teacups, rice bowls, chopsticks and strainers, sponges shaped like kittens, and graters for daikon and wasabi), laundry room (with hampers and hangers) and office (with pens, paper and boxes to hold them), with funds leftover to spoil the kids (toys, elegantly patterned origami paper and erasers shaped like mini-milk cartons or tiny bowls of ramen).

A couple years ago, former Times staff Julie Makinen wrote about grocery shopping at 99 Cents Only Stores, but what do you think about broadening that scope? Do you shop at 99 Cents Only Stores and the like here? What's the best thing you've discovered?

-- Whitney Friedlander

Photo: Treasures like these fruit-shaped sponges await at Japan's equivalent of the dollar store. Credit: Andrew Bender / For The Times