May 5, 2016

Deciphering Discounts in Japan

For those of us who like to save a little money (who doesn’t?), knowing the secrets of the discount stickers in Japanese supermarkets (any store, actually) can be a useful skill. One of the super fun things about living in another country is trying bizarre foods you might never see in your home country. (Even more fun when they don’t cost a lot and taste awesome.) 

Discount Stickers

Any time of day, it’s possible to see the magical discount stickers, although they are most commonly seen starting a few hours before closing time. If you pay attention to when the stores you shop at start to discount the items, you can be like the thrifty Japanese people who get their dinner bento for less on a regular basis.

You can see people stalking the supermarket employees who are checking food with stickers ready to discount. It’s entertaining, but you might become one of those people once you learn to read the stickers.

‘Discount’ is waribiki (割引) in Japanese. The stickers will usually have a number (1-4 are most common) plus the kanji, “割引” (sometimes only one of the two…) to show a percentage off. 1割引 is 10% off, 2割引 is 20% off, etc.


2割引 candy. This one shows that the discount is taken at the register (レジ), so you have to do the math yourself.

Deciphering Discounts in Japan photo

(160 yen plus tax is prolly not worth it.) 

Sometimes you will actually see 20% instead of 2割引, for example. Here is a 50% off (引) 198円 eggy tofu, which shows the sale price, 99円 +税 (plus tax).

Deciphering Discounts in Japan photo

The best is when you can find those 50% off and hangaku (半額) stickers. This is also half off. It’s possible to see more than 50% off, but not common.

Some half off salmon, not the best quality, but not bad.

Deciphering Discounts in Japan photo

Be sure to check dates and freshness of any discounted items you buy. I would recommend only buying discounted foods you will eat right away.

A rare 70% off clothing sign (grandma style warning).

Deciphering Discounts in Japan photo

In conclusion, have fun with your new skill and feel a little more confident with how much you will pay for those discounted items you’re curious to try.



What if whales don't communicate with whale calls & they're just farting?