What is the best way to haggle in Tokyo?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Sandra Barron

The short answer is: you don’t. Haggling is not part of daily life in Tokyo. The price on the menu or on the artfully hand-lettered tag is the price you pay.
There is one exception I can think of: flea markets. Flea markets and antique markets are wonderful places to explore on weekends. Many local temples have them on a specific weekend each month. Check local English listings or ask at your hotel. These are a great place to find everything from Japanese toys, cameras and electronics from the 80’s to antique silk, scrolls and ceramics. And more. So much more. Things you never imagined existed and whose purpose you can only guess at are neatly laid out on tarps, and used clothing in pristine condition is hung from rolling racks or the sides of minivans. Sure, there’s plenty of junk, but there are also treasures to be found. And when you find something you like, it never hurts to ask for a little bit of a mark-down. Respect (as always) is key in this  interaction. After the proprietor says the price, smile and say, “Sukoshi makete kuremasen ka?” (“Could you please reduce the price a little?”) They may round the price down or throw in an additional item at the same price, but they won’t play games about it. Don’t walk away expecting them to call after you and halve the price on the spot - usually, the original price will be fairly close to the final price. Whether the price cut you get is small or large (and you just may get a great bargain toward the end of the day), be sure to express your gratitude. Stay calm and friendly, and you just might walk away with a one-of-a-kind souvenir at a price you love.

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