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My family has been shopping at Sanki since I was in middle school and it was our go-to retail store to find clothes and household items at greatly discounted prices. We view Sanki as a cross between Walmart and Ross. On our recent trip to Japan, our Mom wanted to visit Japan’s largest Sanki in a town called Inzai, which is about a 40-minute drive from Narita airport. We hadn’t been to one in a while and it was so much fun to check out Japan’s discounted clothes and household goods. Here are the top 5 items that caught our attention that are common essentials in Japan.
1. FACE MASKS
Although it’s not so common to wear face masks in the United States, it is very common in Japan. If you’re visiting Japan, it’s guaranteed that you’ll see a local wearing a mask. Especially during spring (hay fever) and winter months. Wearing a mask is as common as wearing sunglasses. I wear a mask quite often when I am in Japan especially if I am riding public transportation. I also wear a mask if I am getting over a cold so I don’t spread my germs to others.
Because masks are so common, you can find a variety of masks to shop for. From character themed kid’s masks to masks for eyeglass wearers and more. You’ll be amazed at the assortment of masks Japan offers. Sanki has an entire section of them and we spent a good amount of time here checking out all the different types of masks.
2. ADORABLE HAND TOWELS
Another very common item that you’ll find in Japan are small hand towels. A lot of people carry a small hand towel with them so that they have something to dry their hands with when they use public bathrooms. A lot of public bathrooms in train stations don’t have a hand dryer or paper towels, so it’s handy to have your own towel. I have a dozen of these hand towels and many of them have cute designs. A lot of them I actually received as gifts since it’s common to pair these little towels with hand lotion as presents.
We are too tall for the clothes here, but they do have a ton of clothes at great prices. Japanese clothing brands tend to be on the expensive side; however, if you aren’t picky about the brands you wear, this is a great place to find dresses, jeans, undergarments, pajamas, and more. When I (Candy) was in middle and high school, I bought a lot of my standard school uniform undershirts, school socks, and indoor school shoes here. If you are looking for clothes for your pets, they have that too!
3. SLIPPERS & SANDALS
It is custom to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home in Japan (as well as many other Asian countries). Therefore, having slippers for both you and guests are pretty standard household items. A lot of times you’ll find separate slippers just for the bathroom as well. Also, having a pair of sandals is handy for those times you will be going in-and-out of the house when doing yard work or when bringing in groceries. We tend to buy slippers here and bring them back to the United States since the quality is great and the prices are very reasonable.
4. JAPANESE SNACKS
If you’re into dry seafood then Sanki is your store. They have every dry seafood you can think of from octopus tail to sardines. We used to eat a ton of dried squid as snacks when we were kids, but not so much these days as they are hard to get in the States. Even if you don’t like dry seafood, we think they make for a fun souvenir.
5. FUTON MATTRESS
Futons in Japan have a different meaning than the futons in the United States. Futons in Japan are actual mattresses that are laid on the floor (most commonly on tatami floors for extra cushion) to sleep on. You can find a variety of sizes from double, semi-double, and single. The signs in the back say “mattress” but we usually just call them “futon”. Our parents have always slept on the tatami floor on a futon and we often do the same when we go home to visit. In Japan, sleeping on a futon is just as common as sleeping on a bed.