Shop for these 7 musts at the Daiso to save cash while OCONUS
(Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

When we arrived in Japan, we had next to nothing. Our household goods were somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, and we desperately needed, well, everything. From coloring books and toys to occupy our little one to knives and other cooking tools, we were in dire want. We didn’t want to drop tons of cash, especially since we had these items coming. . . eventually. Even the prices at the PX were slightly more than we wanted to spend.

Enter the Daiso: Japan’s answer to the dollar store has a level of quality and variety that we can only dream of in the US.

Welcome to the most magical shopping experience of your life. If you need it, the local Daiso has it. For those stationed in Asia, or those about to PCS, get ready to transform your life by shopping for these items:

1. Laundry supplies

Everyone has it; no one likes to do it. Plus, all those socks are continually getting lost. Instead of stressing about missing footwear, get yourself a perfectly sized little mesh bag. Bonus: You can choose between Mickey and Minnie patterns! For larger laundry items or to store dirty clothes on vacation, there are a wide range of sizes perfect for everything from bras to sweaters.

The Daiso also has a wide selection of laundry soaps and softeners. Everything is high efficiency, so you’ll need only a spoonful to get maximum results.

2. Office and art items

You can outfit and refresh your entire desk or craft corner with adorable and color-coordinated essentials. Need new pencils? Perfect! Find a sweet set in a variety of colors at your local shop. When you make a mistake, pick up your sushi shaped eraser to fix it.

There are tons of notebooks with every type of paper possible: Blank, lined, and graph paper. Accountants will love filling out the ledgers and artists will love the sketch pads and accouterments. 

3. Storage help

All of my food container lids were lost in my last PCS. Instead of riding the struggle bus, trying to fit mismatched lids to save my leftovers, I went to the Daiso. For ¥100 per piece, I walked away with brand-new containers. Everything nests together, all the lids fit perfectly. It’s amazing!

Military housing has weird storage spaces and closets. There are either too many or too few drawers and shelves. (Or there are wide shelves where you could really use something skinny.) Worst of all, there isn’t a place to stick your towels in the bathroom. There are all sorts of great baskets at the Daiso. My whole linen closet is now neatly organized in collapsible fabric bins. Sheets are sorted into their correct sizes and owners. All the towels are organized into bath, hand, and pool. Everything has a home.

4. Kitchen gizmos

Almost anything you need for kitchen and cooking success can be found at the Daiso. From gyoza presses that can be used to create hand pies or mini calzones to oodles of rice making tools, it’s here. I love the Mickey Mouse rice scoop and the mini mandolin slicer. My dad is a fan of the great cooking chopsticks I sent him for Christmas.

As soon as we landed in Japan, my kitchen scissors broke. Given that we had spent some money on the whole knife set, I was pretty bummed. . . until I walked into the Daiso. I found sturdy kitchen shears for ¥100.

5. Dishes

Do you love a nice ceramic bowl? Craving a Japanese teaset? Do your chopsticks need a place to rest? The Daiso has you covered. From plastic plates for children to very fancy mugs and teapots, you could create a whole tablescape for cheap.

6. Beauty items

All my beauty supplies come from the Daiso right now. From a foot mask that will help you shed dead skin to pretty nail stickers, I can find it here. Face masks and lotions are a frequent care package request from the folks back home. My daughter is slowly working at owning every single color of nail polish available.

7. Branded products

If you or your family are even just a little bit into Disney characters, get to buy all the things. From beauty products to dishes to decor, it’s all here. I just shipped my aunt a pair of Mickey and Minnie garden stakes. All the nieces and nephews get coloring books filled with the princesses, Winnie the Pooh, and Toy Story.

Beyond Mickey and company, savvy shoppers can also score Hello Kitty and other Sanrio products. Before you know it, your whole house will be filled with kawaii cartoons!


By Meg Flanagan