By thomas | September 4, 2007
Here’s a tip that was sitting right in front of my face for months before I figured it out: buy refills.
Most cleaning products in Japan are sold in two styles: normal and refill. Not surprisingly, the refill is usually cheaper. A normal bottle of Joy dish soap, pictured at far left costs me 148 yen. The refill bottle has almost twice as much soap but only costs 248 yen. Not huge savings, but every little bit helps. I get an even better deal on my Bath Magiclean. A normal bottle sells for 312 yen. The refill, which contains almost the same amount of cleaner, costs 148 yen. That’s less than half price!
With the plethora of single-purpose cleaners that exist here in Japan, it can cost a pretty penny to keep your house clean. Buying refills can easily save you a few 1000 yen bills a year. Refill packages also tend to be smaller, so they take up less space in your trash/recycle bin.
The word to look for is tsumekaeyou (つめかえ用, [つめかえよう]), literally “for refill”. Most stores stock the refills right next to the normal bottles, but this isn’t always the case. If you can’t find it after a quick search, find an employee and they should be able to bring you right to it. Talking to store employees is a fun way to practice your Japanese too.
Note: As the name suggests, you will have to have an empty bottle at home to pour the contents of the refill into. If it’s your first trip to the store, buy a normal bottle.
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