From the talking trucks to singing train stations Japan is very different to Australia including your shopping experience. Good service is very important in Japan and shop staff work very hard just to offer the service which is expected of them. Furthermore, there are some different rules of etiquette required of a customer when they enter a store. Here are some points I've noticed after spending 5 months in Japan.
Be sure to let me know about your experience shopping overseas in the comments section!
1. Umbrellas in the rack
During the rainy season an umbrella rack will be placed at the door of the shop. It's expected that customers place their umbrellas in there. Bringing them into the store may wet the floor, making it dangerous for other customers or simply damage the merchandise. Angelic Pretty has an umbrella stand outside for customer umbrellas and inside for their umbrellas - just be careful not to mix up the two or forget your umbrella when you leave.
2. Bags don't belong on the floor
In Australia I didn't worry about putting my bag on the floor when I went to cafe or restaurant. In Japan, cafes, restaurants and some shops offer baskets or tables to put your bags on. Victorian Maiden have a coat rack and a chaise lounge to put your belongings on and shop staff will kindly take your coat and bag when you enter the store.
3. I'll see you to the door
If you purchase something at a store the staff will often carry your shopping to the door for you! If available they will also get you a new version of the item from the back of the store, wrap it up all nicely in a bag and perhaps include a sticker or postcard form the store. It's a way to thank you for your patronage and ensure that each customer feels attended to individually.
4. Kawaiiiiiiiiiii <3
Shop staff will compliment you if you try something on - without fail. I'm still not used of it myself but it's all a part of serving the customer individually and encouraging further patronage. The most popular comments I've heard are kawaii - "cute", suteki - "incredible/amazing" and o-niai desu - "it suits you". Shop staff are also forth coming when you're browsing the blouses: yoroshikereba, hirogete mite kudasai - "you can unfold it to see what its looks like if you wish" and when you're drooling over dresses: yoroshikereba, kagami de awasete mite kudasai - "you can hold it up in the mirror to see what it's like if you wish". They will also help tie up bonnets and do up your shoes if you try them on.
5. No shoes in the house
Or rather in the change rooms. Change rooms will often be carpeted and you will need to take your shoes off before you enter. There are also stores which have make up covers that you're encouraged to wear over your head and some places won't let you try anything on unless you're wearing a camisole.
I've always thought that shopping in Japan was like that feeling you get in your dream where you're in your school... but it's not actually your school. The setting seems to be the same but the feelings and things you experience are completely different. I take my hat off to the shop staff who work so hard to make everyone's shopping experience so special.
Let me know about your shopping experiences in foreign countries in the comments. What happened? How did it make you feel?
Until next time...
Until next time...