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Souvenir shopping Kyoto, Japan. Why Japanese customer service is the world’s best.

Souvenir shopping Kyoto, Japan. Why Japanese customer service is the world’s best.

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Walk into the accessories section of any Japanese store and you will be floored by the trays of carefully arranged, high-quality hair pins, barrettes and costume jewelry, all sparkling enticingly like the little gems that they are.

accessories hair pin barette jewelry shop Kyoto

These accessories are not only sparkly, but are also extremely well made.

Are Japanese women hoarding these little treasures?  They must be, as I’ve never seen them on our shores.  I took my time ogling the pretties, and wondered why I felt so…relaxed.

Then I realized that unlike in certain New York City department stores, no attendant came over to harrass me under the guise of “helping” before I’d even had a chance to look around.  Instead, I was left to freely browse at my leisure, and even pick up items without fear of them being snatched away by an overly eager attendant.

Shopping Kyoto Japan, hir pinYet despite this refreshingly unobtrusive approach, the moment I touched a hair pin I had a question about, some sixth sense was triggered and the shop attendant instantly materialized.  Through a series of pantomime gestures, the attendant patiently explained the purpose of the pin.

shopping japanese hair pins kyoto souvenir

Despite watching this you tube video multiple times, this hopeless foreigner still has not mastered the art of the Japanese hair pin. But it still looks pretty sitting on my vanity.

Then, with a flurry of meticulous twists and loops, she whipped my hair up in this adorable style.  Was this simply the Japanese way, taking pity on me, a hopeless foreigner, unable to master the fine art of Japanese hair design?

Nope, Japanese women all around me received similar treatment, this was just an example of everyday Japanese customer service.  In other shops I watched attendants affix flowers to buns and set necklaces on clavicles with equal care.

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 Have you found fantastic customer service in your travels?  Tell us in the comments below!

Japansese Souvenir Shopping Kyoto Details:
Hairpin, about $8 US.
Find similar hair pins in the accessories section of any Japanese department store or accessories boutique.  Many of these products are made in Japan.

Looking for more posts about Souvenir Shopping in Japan?  You may want to read these next:
Kyoto, Japan. Don’t slip on this Imperial era shopping street or you’ll be dead in 2 to 3 years.
Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan. The road to spiritual enlightenment is paved with shops.
Guide to Souvenir shopping for made in Japan kimonos and yukatas: what to buy
Kyoto, Arashiyama, Japan. The trifecta of scenery, sights and shopping.
Souvenir shopping Kyoto, Japan. Tourist Tat Alert Cute edition.
Souvenir shopping Kyoto, Japan. Furoshiki, some assembly required.
Souvenir shopping Kyoto, Japan. Yes, gift please.
Kyoto, Japan. Shopping Fail: Philosopher’s Path

Photo credits:
#1 Tripping Blonde, used with permission
#2  Souvenir Finder

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Wednesday 11th of February 2015

This reminded me of the Hello Kitty shop located, not in Japan, but in Hollywood, in the same complex as the facility where the Oscars are held. I used to work across the street, and my parking was provided in that building, so I walked past this shop daily.

The first time I went in, I ended up purchasing just a handful of little things; nothing fancy, items like purse-sized tissue packs, soap leaves, lip gloss, etc.

After paying for my purchases, I wasn't just handed a bag. The clerk carefully and prettily wrapped each item, individually, in colorful tissue paper, and taped each closed with a charming sticker. These were all then neatly arranged into the bottom of an equally pretty shopping bag, the top of which was precisely folded at the top, and sealed with another sticker. A ribbon tied into a bow was affixed to the handles of this bag and then, finally, it was given to me. The clerk that assisted me not only paid time and attention to this task, but seemed to enjoy doing it. It was quite a refreshing difference! (And I suppose, it's an extremely tactful method of controlling theft, since it would be obvious if someone walked out having pocketed unwrapped goods!)

Kristin Francis

Wednesday 11th of February 2015

Thanks so much for your comment! That is really interesting-- so it sounds like the tradition is followed here, that's awesome. I almost want to buy something at Hello Kitty just to see how they'll wrap it!


Sunday 6th of October 2013

I am so glad that you enjoyed the Japanese customer service! They are very helpful, aren't they? And you look pretty with the pin (^-^) I live in London, UK and find the customer service is ok. The worst one I've experienced repeatedly was the French one. They are the horriblest...(=_=;)


Sunday 6th of October 2013

Thanks so much for commenting! I am actually in London right now-- I've spent the last two days shopping and photographing my favs-- headed home tomorrow. I'll have to check with you for your recommendations for my next trip!


Sunday 6th of October 2013

yes, the Japanese have exemplary customer service. never experienced the same in any other country.


Thursday 10th of October 2013

It was so wonderful, wasn't it? Thanks so much for commenting!