Frugal Files, Life, Reviews, 日本

Frugal in Japan: Nitori and Muji

2016-2-14 started and finished 2016-2-19.

Nitori & MUJI

Since I’m on a “frugal living in Japan” kick, I decided to share with you a discovery of mine. Actually, calling it my discovery is a lie. These stores were recommended to me by coworkers after they’d heard about me snoozing on a wooden floor and stacking plates in the corner of my kitchen due to the lack of storage space.

Enter NITORI (in Japanese) and MUJI.

Like IKEA, these places are ideal for finding storage supplies and other household goods, like futon covers, rugs, and baking pans but are actually located in slightly more convenient locations.  I mean, okay, I don’t mind riding an hour and a half in a train to see IKEA in Tachikawa, but when I can be in Ikebukuro within 30 minutes, IKEA feels as far as New Jersey.

MUJI has locations everywhere.  Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Nerima-ku… Nitori, not so much.  There is a smaller branch in Ikebukuro inside Sunshine City’s ALPA section.  The bigger, better option is in Odaiba—which is still closer than IKEA to me anyway.

So, MUJI first.  I found this place in Shinjuku during my trip in 2010 but never realized it was MUJI until 5 years later.  Sad, I know.  MUJI has some phenomenal finds.  Other objects have a price tag that will indeed increase your heart rate.  But, don’t let that dissuade you from giving this store a look-see.  Futon sets and kitchen appliances are amongst the more reasonable.  There are also customizable clothing and stationary in many stores which might be fun if you’re traveling with children.  The other thing I like about MUJI is the groceries.  While I’m not a big one for buying sweets and the like, I do love their organic teas.  Again, you’re paying for the MUJI name too, so don’t expect a Walmart-esque price.  Still, you might get lucky with a sale or two.

I wish I could give Nitori a high-five.  This store saved my poor spine from another night on the floor without making me sacrifice my unborn children.  This place is a cheaper, more solid version of IKEA.  What do I mean by solid?  I mean they are on top of their game.  In store or online, Nitori has great customer service (if you understand extreme keigo).  For example, I had ordered a ton of stuff—a shiki futon, a low folding table, a floor seat, a rug, and a futon pad—and set the delivery time for 6-9 o’ clock in the evening.  However, the delivery company doesn’t actually operate at that time, so Nitori sends me an email.  I followed the directions on the email and sent customer service a question, asking if I could change the time to the morning instead of whatever time my delivery had been relegated to.  The response was ridiculously swift.  10 minutes and BAM, everything had been swapped.

Prior to the date of delivery, another email was sent regarding who was going to be bring what and when.  I truly appreciate the thoroughness.  Plus, 70,000 yen spent for free shipping is really easy to do.  Yet, everything that I ordered just breached 100,000 yen (about 90 USD), which is unfathomable in America.  I mean, c’mon, a spacing saving futon for 20 bucks in America doesn’t even exist.

The other reason I call Nitori solid is because of the quality.  You might think the low price means poorly made goods, but your assumption would be incorrect.  I went cheap on everything yet do not regret it.  The low folding table isn’t rickety and transitions from collapsed to standing without difficulty.  The floor chair has a lever that is responsive, and the chair doesn’t have issues with moving.  My shiki futon is heaven (although that might just be because I’ve been sleeping on the floor for about a week now).

At the store in Ikebukuro I bought a memory foam pillow for under 2000 yen, and it is by far the most supportive pillow I’ve ever had.  Compared to the pillow I left in my old bedroom from Target that sold for about 30 bucks, this one supports me perfectly.

When all is said and done, I’m 120% satisfied with Nitori.  I will forever be a loyal customer.

Le gasp, I just realized I don’t have a picture header for The Frugal Files.  Next time!

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