3. Baby stuffs preparation: what,where and when to buy? PARTI: Where to shop for Baby/Children's daily necessities and clothes?

>> Tuesday, 29 December 2009

As you may know, Japan is one of the most expensive cities to live in the world, and coincidentally, everything about the baby here is expensive. I mean really everything - from clothes, toys, milk, baby foods, nappy, etc. One thing I am happy about the babies here is that manufactures never stop searching for new discoveries for the comfort of the parent- one of my favorite is Pampers nappy indicator - A yellow indicator which stretches from the front to the back of the diaper turns green once the undergarment has been soiled. It was 4 years ago so at the present time, there should be more new stuffs.

Anyway, I would like to share some information on shopping infant/childrens daily necessities and clothes. The following are the biggest retailers of infant/childrens goods in Japan.

In Tokyo, you can also find Babies R Us and Akachan-honpo in most of the shopping malls like in Olinas-Kinshicho (Babies R Us), Ario Mall - Kameari or Nishi Arai ( Akachan-Honpo), Funabashi Lala Port, and so on. I find the stores of Nishi-Matsuya to be not so accessible - I think most of them are bit far from the train stations.

Personally, I find Babies R Us a bit expensive but they have wide range of imported products. Nishi-Matsuya clothes are very cheap- you can buy from as low as 380yen and they have wide selection of Cars(Pixar), Anpanman and Disney designed clothes at a very affordable price. It depends on your choice of clothes. As for the baby foods, milk, skin item, etc- I think Akachan honpo is cheap but it is also worthy to check the drugstores near to your place. I find Papaso drugstores’ price, particularly milk and baby foods, to be almost the same as Akachan honpo. Wise thing is to shop when these stores are on sale. Make sure to registered as a member you that they would send you fliers on this months/season’s sale and to gain points too.


Pictures: A Next Next clothes for infants, below is Nishi Matsuya Chain Store.
Online shopping service is available at Babies R Us/Toys are Us and Akachan-honpo. I did use these services to order infant water (for milk), diapers, wipes and other heavy stuffs when my elder son is still a baby and we have no car that time yet.

You can also check Ikea for their product line up for children. They have products from bedroom (beddings/baby cribs/curtains) to toys and kitchen utensils (bibs/mugs/plates/etc). I like their products as they are very colorful which you can seldom find in Japanese stores. Their toys are mostly made from wood - indeed a European style!

You may also want to check
Costco where you can find baby/children clothes, diapers, wipes, milk, English books, toys,etc. Diapers are in bulk and I think only Pampers, Kirkland and Unicharm (Disney designed) are available. Clothes are usually Osh Kosh and Carters signatures and very cheap compared to Osh Kosh boutique in Makuhari Outlet - although design/style are one season older.

As for the baby's clothes, I also recommend the following boutiques:

  • Uniqlo infants/kids - this is where I bought most of the infant clothes I used for my elder one - and still was able to use by my younger one. Mostly made of cotton and I find them durable with a sense of fashion. Very cheap too! Their infant clothes are usually 3pcs in 1 pack.
  • Gap Kids - shop when they are on sale (usuallly after every season). You can find good stuff as low as 500yen!
  • Next Next - a brand from UK and based in Omotesando. I think the price is almost the same as Gap or maybe cheaper but the style is completely different! I prefer girl’s clothes though. Their infant clothes are usually 3pcs in 1 pack and light in colors (gray, white, light pink, light green and light yellow). They also have my favorite color – purple, lavender – related color for girls!
  • Ginza Isamiya - is a store name rather than brand because they sell Rag Mart, FO Kids signatures - same price range as Baby Gap but very durable clothes. When my elder one enrolled to nursery when he was 10months- i bought size 90 shorts as his pants - and 3 years later - he could still use them. They have branch near our place - their main branch is in Ginza (right beside Mitsukoshi).
  • United Colors of Benetton - more expensive than all of the above but their summer clothes and accessories are really lovely! Their Omotensando mega-boutique has wide collection of children's clothes and accessories.
  • Zara kids - Surprisingly they have wide selection for toddlers too. I have never bought here in Japan -as it was in Manila (Zara Rockwell branch) where we shopped, but a friend told me that when Zara Japan goes on sale - clothes could be as low as 500yen too.

I heard
COMME CA ISM
children clothes are also affordable – this is a family of five fox with COMME CA DU MODE FILLE and ARTISAN as its high-end brand, I have never bought clothes from them because they are mostly gray and black in color.

If you want to buy baby clothes of international brand, I recommend that you shop during the winter and summer sale. I always do my shopping at Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi because there are wide variety of children boutiques such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry, JPress, Chloe, Bebe, Miki House, Yumi Katsura, Familiar, Diesel and others.Celine is available at Ginza's branch, Tommy Hillfinger and other European brands could be found in Ebisu branch.

Make sure to grab a 10,000yen "fukubukuro" on Mitsukoshi's new year’s sale (especially Bebe, Castelbajac and Miki House) - You'll be surprised to know that the clothes inside the fukubukuro could be no less than 25,000yen worth of clothes. High-end brands like Ralph Lauren doesn’t have “fukubukuro” but a clearance discount for as low as 50%.

Happy shopping!

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Its Christmas Day and last day to send my "Nengajo" ...

>> Friday, 25 December 2009

December 25th for Christians around the world is the celebration of Christmas Day. But here in Japan, a buddhist country, Dec 25 is known as the last day of sending out "Nengajo" so that post office ould deliver them on Jan 1st. "Nengajo" are postcards sent as a greeting for the coming New Year. The New Year or "oshougatsu" is very important to the Japanese and on this special occasion, they send "Nengajo" to express gratitude, or to keep in touch with thier friends, relatives, office collegues, teachers, et al. Although "Nengajo" can be send from early December, the post office stocks them and delivers them on January 1st.
Even until now, I always look forward on seeing nengajo at our post box in the morning of the new year's day. And as I write this blog, my minds tells me "Time to send your nengajo!".




(A sample of nengajo - front and back from http://item.rakuten.co.jp/maruraku/artbu-nenga-c01-s1/)












Here are some trivia on Nengajo (from All About Japan - except #5):

  1. Nengajo often use the present year's zodiacal animal (eto) as the design. The animal of the year 2010 is the tigar (tora).

  2. Unlike Christmas cards, nengajo shouldn't arrive before New Year's Day.

  3. Nengajo, especially those purchased from Post Office are with lottery numbers or "otoshidama-tsuki nenga hagaki". issued by the Post and Telecommunication Ministry (yuuseishou). On January 15th, the winning numbers are picked and the results are announced the following day on television and in newspapers. The holders of winning numbers receive prizes. The prizes are not money. The first prize in a past lottery was a wide screen TV set, a car navigation system, and a washer/dryer. The second prize was a camera, a radio and a CD player. The third prize was a regional products gift pack, and the fourth prize was a collection of commemorative stamps.

  4. The New Year's card postal system was set up as early as 1899, and otoshidama-tsuki nenga hagaki went on sale in 1949. Today more than 4.1 billion otoshidama-tsuki nenga hagaki are printed every year.

  5. It is still acceptable to send nengajo until Jan 7th if you were not able to make it to deliver on Jan 1st or to send back to someone who sent you nengajo but you didnt send out.

Here's on how to write nengajo (from All About Japan):
Nengajo begin with set greetings. Here are some common expressions.


Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu.明けましておめでとうございます。 Happy New Year.

-Shinnen omedetou gozaimasu.新年おめでとうございます。

-Kinga Shinnen 謹賀新年

-Kyouga Shinnen 恭賀新年

-Gashou -賀正

-Geishun迎春

-Tsutsushinde shinnen no oyorokobi o moushiagemasu.謹んで新年のお喜びを申し上げます。


All expressions basically mean, "Happy New Year". You can choose any of them to begin your card. "Kinga Shinnen (謹賀新年)," "Kyouga Shinnen (恭賀新年)," "Gashou (賀正)," and "Geishun (迎春)" are seasonal words not used in regular conversation. The rest of the three expressions can be used as a greeting. Click here to hear the sound files for New Year's greetings.
After the greeting, add words of thanks, requests for continued favor or wishes for health. Here are some common expressions, though you can add your own words as well.

-Sakunen wa taihen osewa ni nariarigatou gozaimashita.昨年は大変お世話になりありがとうございました。 Thank you for all your kind help during the past year.
-Honnen mo douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.本年もどうぞよろしくお願いします。 I hope for your continued favor this year.
-Minasama no gokenkou o oinori moushiagemasu.皆様のご健康をお祈り申し上げます。 Wishing everyone good health.

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2. Recommended readings/tools regarding Pregnancy

>> Tuesday, 15 December 2009

You can find many free tools and articles on the internet. There are many of them from naming the babies to detailed weekly development of the baby in the mothers womb (some website have 3D pictures of the baby!).

Also, when you get your boshi-techo from the city hall or city health office, you would have received pamphlets on pregnancy too. Although they are written in Japanese, I find them very useful so if you husband or your friend can translate them for you, the better.

You may also get some information from the hospital where you are taking monthly/weekly maternity check up.

You can also avail information on infants stores such as aka-chan honpo - they do provide pamphlets on what are the things needed for a certain period of time in pregnancy - written in Japanese too. Please be careful here though because the pamphlet contains some items that maybe nice to have but not necessarily must to have.  

Otherwise you can check the bookstores on pregnancy books. English books are available at kinukuniya bookstores, or if you can buy online - you can have a short stop at amazon.co.jp

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