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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hokkaido Autumn Road Trip 2016 - Shopping




Tax free shopping

Tourists love shopping in Hokkaido and GST rate is at 8%. But as tourists, we can get a refund and it's very convenient.
During my visit, to qualify for tax refund we need to purchase 5000yen for consumable goods and 5000yen for non consumable goods.
Read this website thoroughly to get an idea of how it works : http://tax-freeshop.jnto.go.jp/eng/index.php

Take note that:
1. The credit card owner must make the claim by him/herself if it's paid by credit card.
2. The package cannot be opened in the country.
3. The tax refund can be done on the same day, at the same location. For eg: If you shopped in Aeon Asahikawa, just head to Aeon's Tax Refund counter and get the refund in cash!
4. Not all consumables qualify for tax refund. Dairy products like cheese do not qualify for refunds.
5. Keep the receipts until you reach the airport. An officer will direct you to put the receipts into a box after going through the boarding gate.



Personal experience:

1. Non consumable goods: 

Clothes: I bought a jacket at Uniqlo and I received Tax refund right at the cashier counter. I wore the jacket throughout my trip and no questions were asked at the airport.
Beauty products: I also bought a qualifying amount of beauty products and received our tax refund at the cashier counter in Sapporo Drug Store. Remember to separate the products you want to use during the trip and only those not going to be used will be packed and sealed into a bag will qualify for tax refund.

2. Consumable goods:
I bought a qualifying amount at Aeon, Make sure the payment at the cashier counter must exceed 5400 yen, (5000 + 400 in GST). I brought the things to the tax refund counter and the goods were checked for qualification.. They took out my cheese candy and told me it cannot qualify.Luckily the remaining stuff was more than 5000 in worth. Everything was wrapped and I got my tax refund in cash after the foodstuff was wrapped.

My tax free consumables being packed by Aeon's staff at Tax Refund Counter


Buying and Bringing Fruits Home.
Hokkaido has nice melons and fruits. It'll be a pity if one wanted to buy but dared not.
So, this website will be of use:     http://j-fruits.com/en/
You refer to the website to check whether fruits are allowed to be brought into your country.
Minkan is 'not' in Malaysia's permissible list yeah.... But Minkan is usually found down south in Japan. If you've managed to sneak some minkan or Japanese citrus back to Malaysia.... Ermmm......shhhhhh.

Personal experience:
I hand carried home a box of grapes, pears, and apples that we picked ourselves in Yoichi.


Don Quijote in Sapporo
On our 6th night, we went shopping at Don Quijote, fondly known as Donki. The place is chaotic with a lot of people, locals and tourists. I bought some food stuff and I regretted going there. The queue to pay was long and we could get the food stuff at other places just as well.


While walking back, I realise that Sapporo Drug Store was still open, Since I couldn't get skincare at Donki due to immense amount of people and I don't like huge crowds, I went in Sapporo Drug Store and it was a total change from Donki. Spacious, well ventilated, well lit, things nicely arranged, overall, a much better shopping experience compared to Donki. Price wise, it is very competitive and really, no point going to Donki. And the staff in Sapporo Drug Store has the time to answer our questions and attend to us.

Tanukikoji in Sapporo
Tanukikoji is a roofed shopping alley that is quite long, few blocks long. I didn't find this place attractive, but there are some good restaurants here, like the Wagyu yakiniku restaurant, and there are a few notable ramen shops here.

There is this shop, not too far from the junction to Daiso, that we walked in and found the price to be very budget friendly. It's a local grocery store and doesn't sell souvenir snacks. We got Calbee potato chips at 55yen (RM2.20) per pack and a large can of alcohol free beer at 78yen(RM3.12). We took 4 bags of chips and a can of non alcoholic beer and paid just 284yen. I felt weird, because I paid so little when I bought two plastic bags of food, LOL. The same chips were sold at a much higher price elsewhere. When I was there, I wished I could cook, because the ingredients sold at this shop was very very 'cost attractive'.

Tanukikoji 2 and the grocery shop that I find to have very fair prices.


The biggest Daiso in Sapporo
It's a Daiso that has 5 floors. There are a lot of products not available in Malaysia and it will be a nice place to buy some snacks and stuff. Worth a peek and the walk there. Prices are a bit cheaper compared to Malaysia as 108yen/item, when converted at this time was RM4.32. Prices for Daiso in Malaysia is RM5.90/item.

Underground Shopping Malls
From Susukino station to Sapporo Station, there is an underground shopping area.There are two shopping centers here, but they aren't distinctively separated.



Sapporo Station Area
There are a few shopping centers around Sapporo Station.

We went to Etsa to visit Uniqlo's largest store in Sapporo because I needed to get a warm jacket and hoping this store will have larger sizes and only superstore Uniqlos will have extra sizes.

Walked around BIC Camera, and looking around at what they have. Can't understand the labels attached to the appliances :)

Then we walked a bit around Stellar Place, walked into Gap and noticed the attractive prices, but didn't stay for long as we wanted to get back to Sapporo Autumn Food Fest.



Aeon
Aeon is a familiar name to Malaysians because there is Aeon in Malaysia. There are a few Aeons in Sapporo, but we went to the one in Asahikawa because we stayed right next to it.

They do have a online tourist coupon, but we have trouble trying to get it printed at the machine, so, duh... it's for 5% discount. So, didn't insist.

They also have Tax refund services here. We didn't walk around the departmental store because of time constraints. We mostly walked around the supermarket because I wanted to buy food and bring back to Malaysia.



Sushi set , this set, if ordered at a sushi restaurant will cost double.

Wagashi 

Besides Aeon, the area right infront of Asahikawa station is a shopping street, with a few shopping centers.

Walk out from Asahikawa JR station and cross the road. 

Duty Free Shopping
Popular Hokkaido food souvenirs are easily available at tourist stops, prices are similar, unless you shop until it's more than 5000yen, and claim 8% GST tax refund, then only it will be cheaper.. But inside Chitose airport, the duty free shop AFTER boarding gate doesn't require any minimum purchase. I forgot to snap a picture of the things available at the duty free shop, but Jaga Pokkuru, Melon KitKat, Royce chocolates and Giant Melon Pocky is available there.

From Boarding gate to Duty Free shopping, it is very near.

*********************************
My Hokkaido Loot

Here are the things I bought and brought back to Malaysia. My things bought from Aeon Asahikawa are still in the 'tax free bag'. See how tight and neat they pack the bag? The other loose stuff are bought from 7-11 or places of interest.


First of all, my kids requested for these Kracie DIY sets. One each. Got them from Donki.


It was almost Halloween, and there's a new range of snacks for that occasion. The mini caplico sticks tasted so good!

And I also bought a lot of candy. Not good to have too much candy in one go. I rationed them and gave them away to staff and friends. Candy is a good gift to be shared around. The ones that I put a red tick are our favourites.

There are two types of Hokkaido Melon chewy candy, I prefer the one made by Morinaga. The taste seems more intense and 'real'. These chewy candy comes in packs of 5, but I managed to get loose packs at a budget corner for 100yen each in Obihiro Esta. So, it's a good bargain!

The clione candy...it's ok, but Drift ice candy,  don't bother. And if you see Coal Candy, oh that is very bad. LOL! Tomato candy sounds fun, but it felt like eating ketchup.



Can't miss out on instant noodles. I bought Hokkaido flavours, namely Miso, Soy sauce and Salt.
There are other local Hokkaido brands, from the famous Ramen restaurants, but I didn't manage to get them due to time contraints.


Japan's Kit Kat comes with many flavours. And Melon is created specially for Hokkaido. Available at Chitose Airport. I'm not sure if it can be bought at other locations, because I didn't see them other than at airport's Duty free in the boarding area.


Royce chocolates..... Royce is born in Hokkaido. So it's a must buy! Must!!
Unfortunately Nama Chocolate is not advisable to be brought along a long journey. The sales assistants told me, I can buy it if my journey is less than 2 hours.


Hokkaido is famous for its kelp. Most of the kelp consumed in Japan is harvested in Hokkaido. Rausu kelp is one of the better ones. I also bought Tororo Kombu, Hidaka kombu, kelp snacks and very affordable roasted seaweed sheets. Rausu and Hidaka kombu were purchased in Washo Market in Kushiro and with my limited Japanese, I asked for dashi kombu, and they recommended me to get this, I also emphasized I wanted Rausu ones. 


Hokkaido produces a lot of scallops. And some of them are turned into these snacks. Both of these were bought in Washo market, Kushiro. The price there is so much better than in Sapporo. We regretted not getting more of both scallop snack and octopus shreds. My man loved the scallops more and I loved the octopus more.


Jaga Pokkuru is a very very famous snack from Hokkaido, the land of potatoes. It is not cheap, and if you are looking for a much cheaper alternative, Calbee's Jaga Pokkuru will be a good choice, going for 20% of the price only.  Because this is so expensive, I only bought 2 boxes of Jaga Pokkuru and 2 boxes of Jaga Pirika.


Pocky Melon is a special product for Hokkaido. You can get it from tourist souvenir shops or at the airport. The two small tubes of chips were bought from 7-11 and they cost half of what I will need to pay in Malaysia. The potato chips at the bottom of the picture is made in Sarabetsu, Tokachi. It is a special product from that area and I find it tasting better than Calbee's chips. I bought 4 packets of it.


Hokkaido is famous for melon, and you can try their ultra sweet melons harvested in summer.
Ribbon's melon jelly comes in bottles and I only saw them in Yubari's road station. It's a liquidy jelly and we drank the jelly with a straw.
As for the melon jelly cups, I didn't get Hori brand , instead I bought this Hitokuchi brand of which was on offer at the airport. Take note that they must be packed in ziplocked bags if you are going to hand carry them.



Definitely not forgetting some famous baumkuchen from Kitakaro. I like the taste of this layered cake. Light, not too sweet and fragrant. Comes in a pack of 5.


As for skincare. Here are two shots of popular products.



And this is what I bought. Lululun Lavender is a special product for Hokkaido. There are a few other variations for Hokkaido, but I only bought Lavender.
Althought Hada Labo is available in Malaysia, but those are made in China. So I bought 2 tubes of cleaner and a bottle of facial milk. I'm a lazy bum when it comes to skincare. These will last me a while before my next trip.


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