Go to shopping: Donki

What do you think of when you hear the name “Don Quixote”? A 17th century comedic masterpiece that ushered in the era of the modern novel? The knight of the rueful countenance, an empathetic old fool questing for his beloved Dulcinea? Windmills? An early 80s nerd-rock duo? Or a cute, blue penguin selling cheap goods?
In Japan “Don Quixote”, or in common parlance “Donki”, is a chain store notable for its cheap goods and claustrophobic shop layouts and has as its mascot the aforementioned blue penguin. The mind boggles. Somewhere in marketing one employee is shaking his head in disbelief that he got away with this.

Obviously places like 100 Yen Shops cannot supply everything and this is where Donki comes in. If you need some cheap electronics, say a washing machine, towel racks, or some clothes, bicycle or tire repair kits, huge bottles of sake or socks Donki has it all. It may not offer the latest and best products but certainly the cheapest stuff. Some shops even have supermarket sections where you can get your food and more importantly alcohol cheaper than most places.

It’s also a good shop to visit if you want to know about the Japanese ability to make the most of the expensive real-estate. Donki shops are usually massively dense mazes of stuff and it’s easy to get lost or loose your bearing and if you’re even slightly claustrophobic it’s best to steer well clear. It’s obvious they’re not going for the rich, ostentatious market; our local Donki is half building, half reinforced permanent tent and spills out onto the street and parking area. The range of goods on display is staggering. Donki and your local recycle shop are probably the best and cheapest way to kit out your unfurnished apartment when you first come to Japan.

Like every chain store in Japan the mascot features heavily and to induct more people into the cult there are even games available from the website, as well as loyalty an gift card offers. Visiting the stores can only be done in short bursts as the constant muzak is an endless loop of the Donki song. Approach with caution!

Location: There are quite a few branches dotted around the country. Check the website for your local Donki; there will probably be one not too far away from wherever the Hell you are.
Website: http://www.donki.com/
Map: Check the shop index here.

4 comments:

  1. must suck to work there... but CHEAP BOOZE!! w00t

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  2. Indeed! When my parents first came over to Japan they traditionally brought along a heroic amount of duty-free alcohol only to find, to their dismay, it was about half the price at Donki's!

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