With its cute penguin mascot and unmistakable theme song, Don Quijote, or Donki (ドンキ) for short, is a store that you’ll be sure to come across while you’re in Japan. But what actually is it and why should you go there?

What is Donki and where did it come from?

In short, Donki is a discount variety goods chain where you can buy almost everything from food and groceries to clothing, souvenirs and cosmetics. The stores tend to be fairly large and multi-storey and there are mega-Donki stores that are several floors high and sell a mind-boggling array of products.

The first Donki store opened in Tokyo in 1980 as Just Co Ltd. The first Don Quijote-branded store opened in Tokyo in 1989 and there are now more than 160 Donki stores all over Japan, as well as several overseas branches as well.

What you can buy from Donki

Food and drinks

One of the first sections you’ll come across upon entering a Donki store is the food and drinks section. Some stores have fresh products like vegetables and meat, while others don’t. The range of food includes snacks, sweets, instant ramen, ingredients and sauces.

There is usually also a selection of Japan-only products like various special edition Kit Kat packs and other confectionery and snacks that you’ll only find in Japan. Drinks include soft drinks and alcohol, with some stores selling higher-end liquors and spirits.

Souvenirs

Donki is a great place to buy souvenirs from Japan to take back to your friends and family. Many of the snacks and chocolates are only found in Japan and sometimes you can only find them at Donki stores. You will also often find things like Japan-themed keychains, fans and chopsticks which make great presents too. There are also seasonal products, for example during spring you can find lots of cherry blossom-themed items.

Cosmetics and beauty

You can buy makeup products, skincare, shampoo, body wash, soap and other beauty products at Donki. It’s especially good for face masks, which make great gifts for friends and family back home too.

Household essentials

This includes cleaning items, laundry detergent, kitchen products, drying racks, laundry poles, clothes hangers, kitchenware and other items you might need for your house.

Medicine and supplements

Got a headache? You can find painkillers and over-the-counter drugs for many ailments at some Donki stores. You can also buy vitamins and other supplements.

Apparel and costumes

You can buy everyday basics like T-Shirts and pants, as well as shoes, socks and onesies. Some stores also sell cosplay items.

Donki is one of the first places people visit to look for Halloween costumes too. Not all stores stock them, but the larger stores like the Donki in Shibuya or Akihabara have a large selection of Halloween costumes for adults and children in the lead-up to the big day.

Other things you can buy from Donki stores include:

  • Small appliances
  • Toys (children and adult)
  • Used branded items
  • Souvenirs
  • Stationery

As well as a wide range of products, many Donki stores are open 24 hours, they have multilingual staff and they have tax-free counters for tourists. It really is your one-stop-shop for your shopping needs in Japan.

Read more articles on our blog to learn more about life in Japan.

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