17/05/2021

Glasses in Japan: Getting Your Eyewear in a Blink

Whether it is to correct one’s eyesight or an accessory to complete an outfit, there’s no doubt that spectacles are invaluable to our daily lives. Now that you’re here, you may be worried about how to get glasses in Japan. Fret no longer, we’re here to help!


Table of Contents

  1. Why should I get glasses? And in Japan?
  2. Getting Your Eyeglasses
  3. Recommended Stores
  4. Summary

Why should I get glasses? And in Japan?

There are many reasons to get a pair of spectacles or glasses, from using it as a sight correcting tool to accessorizing as a fashion statement. Here are some reasons you should consider getting some eyewear: 

Vision Problems

Of course, the majority of glasses-wearers are people with vision problems such as astigmatism, farsightedness, myopia, and more that require visual aid (spectacles) to be able to see clearly. If you find yourself having problems seeing (whether near, far, or at night), visit an eyewear shop to get a checkup.

Protection

Whether it be from sunlight UV rays or blue light from digital screens, protective glasses can protect your eyes from prolonged exposure to harmful rays, and/or reduce fatigue.

Fashion Accessory

It’s not just clothes, hair and shoes that have trends, glasses have trends too. From rimless to aviators, then to geeky thick frames, and now clear transparent frames. Glasses have ever changing styles, available in various colours and materials (matte?!), it can elevate your entire outfit to a whole new level. 

Comfort

Let’s face it, contact lenses are not for everyone. If your eye prescription is on the strong side, no matter how good or comfortable they are, sometimes they just make your eyes dry or worse, fall right out. Tired red eyes and a headache from contacts is entirely avoidable with a pair of glasses. Just save the daily contact lenses for an extra special day. 

Convenience

The downside of wearing contact lenses is the daily struggle to put them on and take them out. For extended use contact lenses, there’s an additional step of storing those lenses in a special liquid. To save yourself a couple of winks of sleep in the morning (and go to bed earlier at night) just stick to eyeglasses. Simply pick them up and hang them over your ears.

Japan vs Other Countries 

Unlike certain countries that require a doctor’s prescription, Japan makes it easy for customers to purchase glasses. Health insurance is not required so many tourists like to buy sunglasses or glasses when visiting Japan. The unique designs, low prices, and fast service allows you to have a quick browse in any optical shop, pick one out, and carry on your merry way. All it takes is a few minutes for non-prescription glasses.

Nonetheless, if you feel like you need a checkup, you are welcome to get a free checkup at the optical shop. Although if you are experiencing more serious eye problems, a proper examination by an eye specialist is recommended.

Getting Your Eyeglasses

There are no restrictions on foreigners or tourists to purchase glasses (or get an eye checkup) in Japan. Other than the pesky problem of a possible language-barrier, getting a pair of glasses in Japan is as easy as ABC. 

Visit the Optician

  1. Visit an optician (eyeglass boutique) of your choice. 

  2. Pick out a pair of frames that suits you. You may ask an attendant for recommendation or assistance.  

  3. If you already have an existing prescription or are wearing prescription glasses, simply pass it to an attendant with your frame of choice. The attendant will measure your prescription glasses or use your prescription to prepare the new lens. It is also possible to reuse your existing prescription lenses, the attendant will cut and trim the lens to fit the new pair of frames.

  4. If you do not have a prescription or wish to update your prescription, proceed with an eye test. Japan does not use the Snellen chart (alphabet eye test); instead a Hiragana chart or more commonly, the “C” chart is used, so don’t worry if you can’t read Hiragana.

    How to use the “C” chart?

    1. Tell the optician which direction the C is facing. For example, it is facing up when it looks like a U, and facing right when it looks like a C.
    2. For diagonal facing C’s (although rare), just combine up-right, up-left, down-left, down-right. 
    3. For your reference, Up (Ue 上), Down (Shita 下), Left (Hidari 左), Right (Migi 右). If you forget how to say directions in Japanese, just point. 

  5. For a regular within the norm pair of spectacles (no special requirements such as above average powerful prescriptions or particular coatings), most opticians can have them ready within 30 minutes to an hour. The attendant will help you adjust the fitting and you can go on your merry way

Only in Japan: Glasses Edition

Collaborations

Stores like JINS, Zoff, and Megane Ichiba frequently collaborate with anime, fashion brands, games, character companies, etc. to make unique interesting spectacles. For example, at the time of writing this article, Zoff has an ongoing collaboration with Disney, Fate Grand Order, Snoopy, Marvel, Star Wars, and more. Whereas JINS is doing collaborations with Sailor Moon, Boku no Hero Academia, and Japanese fashion brands. Quick mention for Megane Ichiba with collaborations including Ace of Diamond, Bungou Stray Dogs, MonHun, and Yowamushi Pedal. [These may change in the future.]

Animegane

Five minutes away from Akihabara Station is Animegane, a spectacles shop dedicated to making anime-inspired and game inspired glasses. If you are an anime or Japanese games fan, this shop is a must-go. Game-inspired glasses include Azurlane, Granblue Fantasy, Fate Grand order, and more. Anime-inspired glasses include Attack on Titan, Evangelion, Kimetsu no Yaiba, Toaru Kagaku, and more.

High Grade Lenses

Hoya, a Japanese manufacturer of high-grade spectacle lenses exported worldwide is based in Japan. In foreign countries, you may have to pay an additional heavy sum to special order Hoya lenses from Japan but here in the motherland of Hoya, shops like JINS have the lens included in its already low price. Japan also boasts the world’s thinnest lens at 1.76 index for high prescriptions with Tokai Optical. Truly an innovative country when it comes to eyewear!

Contact Lenses

Even if you have a glasses prescription, you will need to do another eye checkup to purchase contact lens instores. This is because Japan has stricter rules when it comes to contact lenses. You can however bypass this rule when purchasing online. 

Recommended Stores

Prescription Glasses

These are the recommended, highly-sought vision boutiques where you could purchase the eyeglass that is best for you.

JINS

JINS is one of the biggest eyewear shops in Japan, available in almost every city. It offers a collection of eyewear from prescription, sunglasses, reading glasses, and more. I personally love JINS Switch, where sunglass frames can be magnetically attached to regular prescription glasses.

With prices as low as 5,000 yen and unique and innovative designs, JINS is a great affordable place! For an even more hassle free experience, purchase online and have it delivered right to your room! Free returns if they don’t fit! Also look out for promotions on special lenses.

Zoff

Zoff, the biggest competitor to JINS, has over 15 years of experience in the industry. What sets them apart from JINS is their sales method of using price brackets of 5,500 yen, 7,700 yen, and onwards. With over 1,200 frames, Zoff has a large choice of options to offer their customers. Their best seller is  “Zoff Smart’’, a lightweight yet sturdy plastic frame. 

Megane Ichiba

Megane Ichiba is a tax-free glasses provider where its manufacturing factory is located in Sabae City of Fukui Prefecture. For over one hundred years in the industry, they have serviced customers with the traditional craftsmanship of eyeglasses.

Established in 1980, Megane Ichiba has over 900 stores in Japan as well as overseas presence in Taiwan where it has opened 14 stores. A strong competitor against Zoff and JINS, Megane Ichiba also sells accessories like special design glasses cases and cleaning cloths. Interestingly, they also sell hearing aids and offer hearing tests at select outlets - Shinjuku Main Store, Shibuya outlet, Ikebukuro Main Store amongst others.

Due to the high-quality of glasses in accordance with management standards, a pair of lenses has an amount ranging from 12,000 through 32,000 yen.

ALOOK

Founded by MEGANETOP, the same owners of Megane Ichiba, ALOOK has a similar sales method to Zoff in the form of price brackets starting from 5,500 yen (tax included). ALOOK’s glasses are all made in Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture that produces 90% of eyeglasses around Japan, testifying to the quality and make of their spectacles.

Kamuro

For a higher price range of eyewear, Kamuro has its main store nestled in Ginza. Using material such as acetate and titanium, Kamuro offers never before seen designs in vibrant colours and interesting shapes (Like octagon?! That’s a stop sign). Their designs emphasize the shaping of glasses arms into beautiful patterns such as waves, decorative ornaments, and colour gradients. Some can even be customized in accordance to your taste.

Sunglasses

Looking for sunglasses? While some of the above shops also often carry sunglasses, here are some of the trendiest shops. 

DITA

Established in America by founders Jeff Solorio and John Juniper in America,  DITA’s eyewear are all handmade in Japan. Handcrafted by professional craftsmen with at least 50 years of experience, a single pair of DITA’s glasses is said to take up to 8 months to complete and involves more than 80 production steps. That’s a lot of dedication! Since its establishment, DITA has risen to the forefront of sunglass fashion and has been featured in fashion media. 

Solakzade

Established 2005 by the Okamoto brothers, Solakzade specializes in vintage frames. Though the business began in Osaka, they have since moved to Harajuku. In 2013, the Okamoto brothers started a new project making original “secret” designs at their Harajuku boutique. Their business has now expanded to include jewelry pieces.

Summary

Wearing eyeglasses does not have to be a chore, it can be a stress-free fun shopping experience too! If these are not to your liking, there are plenty of other shops available to explore! So what are you waiting for, it’s time to get fancy with face accessories! 

You don't have to worry alone anymore A Q&A community about Japan

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