As of 1 October 2014, tourists in Japan can get a tax refund for cosmetics, skin care, food and beverage (e.g. sake) purchases in department stores and other shops offering tax-free shopping. This is big news for tourists who come to Japan to buy high-end Japanese cosmetics brands such as Shiseido, Cle de Peau, Lunasol, Suqqu, Cosme Decorte, Three, etc.
Tourists spend thousands of dollars on cosmetics and skin care in Japan because these items are often more expensive in their home countries and the selection in Japan is simply better.
In Japanese department stores, you have to spend at least 10,000 yen in one day for all your purchases to qualify for the tax refund. Some stores such as Isetan charge a 1 percent “handling” fee; other stores like Odakyu don’t charge any fee at all. Matsuya in Ginza requires you to spend at least 50,000 yen in cosmetics (in addition to 50,000 yen in other items) to get the refund for the cosmetics items. At Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku, they give you a 5 percent off all purchases card and you just take that card with you on that one day to any of the cash registers in the Tokyu Hands store.
Unlike getting a tax refund in Europe, in Japan, you get it right in the store on the day that you shop. No need to join long queues at the airport customs (a truly awful experience in France and Italy).
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