Thursday, June 9, 2016

Japan Travel—Get Your Tax Refunds at Department Stores

As a foreigner holding Temporary Visitor visa, you are qualified for some benefits (e.g., discounts and tax refunds) compared to Japan residents.[1]

In this article, we will cover tax refunds when you shop at a department store.

Layout of Department Stores in Japan

The floor plans of Department Stores in Japan look similar:
  • Top floor 
    • Restaurants
  • Basement (デパ地下 / デパちか  / depachika )
    • Food shops
      • In most cases, in the basement of department stores, there is a floor that's full of small kiosks and storefronts where you can buy side dishes, bento, sweets, and more. 
Both floors in a Department Store take care of customers' stomach first.  Then customers will stream through each floor based on two effects:
  • Fountain effect (shown in the diagram above)
    • if customers start visiting food shops first
  • Shower effect
    • if customers start eating at restaurants first

Tax Refunds

As a foreigner visiting Japan, you are eligible for tax refunds on some non-consumable items.  You can get more information below.  This information (downloaded on 06/09/2016) was posted on the web site of Takashimaya Department Store (Kyoto).  This Department Store charges 1.1% handling fee on the price of the product subject to tax exemption.

Important Things to Know:

  1. To get tax refunds, you need to use your passport.  
    • Note that it  is also a legal requirement that you carry your passport with you at all times as a foreign national in Japan.  
    • If you were stopped by a policeman asking for your ID card, don't argue with him/her.  
  2. Tax-free items will be wrapped in a special package, don't unwrap it because you need to present it this way at airport Customs.  
  3. You should apply for a credit card that charges no transaction fee on foreign purchases.[1]


  1. Tips: Traveling in Japan (Travel for a Purpose)
  2. Duty free shopping in Osaka
  3. Takashimaya Department Store (Kyoto Store)
  4. BEGIN Japanology - Department Stores (video)
  5. 7 Recommended Items from JR Kyoto Station’s Isetan Depachika Food Floor
    • At the JR Kyoto Isetan depachika, you can try these 7 shops that offer the tastes of Kyoto and its surroundings

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