Expanded bento supply stock at Japan Centre

Good news for bento fans in Europe and the UK in particular: as reported previously, Japan Centre’s online store has expanded their bento box and accessory lineup from Daiso. Accessories are priced at £1.45 to &1.49, and bento boxes like the popular Lube Sheep Dragonfly model are £2.50 - pretty reasonable I think. While Japan Centre, who are based in London, only ship food items within Europe, they do ship non-food items worldwide, Always figure in the shipping costs and shop around for the best deals! See Where to buy bento items. (*Disclaimer: Japan Centre is an advertiser on Just Bento, but I’m also a very happy repeat customer.)

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I went in London in the end

I went in London in the end of last February with the idea to spend “all” my money in Japan Center (the flight was low price). Well, I was really disappointed! They only had the Happy Balloons bento boxes (orange and blue), no matching chopstick, napkin nor bags. We find only one orange fork (so no blue one for the second box…). Finally, I bought the matching items on the internet and it was even more expensive if I hadn’t bought anything there and bought the whole lot by internet directly. So I’m a bit upset with them…

I'm sorry your February visited was disappointing

The Japan Centre was in a period of transition at the time of your visit. A lot of stock was cleared out at the end of January (the price of most of the Daiso goods was reduced to 1GBP) and new departments were being set up in February - they had only recently expanded into the new building (213) next to the original premises (212). It is worth checking out their online shopping site before making a special journey to the Japan Centre. The website doesn’t always accurately reflect the stock on the shelves, but it is a good guide. On my last 3 visits there’s been no fresh nagaimo, the product I’ve gone there for specifically, I try not to let it get me down.

Apologies from Japan Centre

Dear Emily,

First of all let me apologise for the lack of Daiso products you were interested in purchasing on your special trip to Japan Centre. It must have been very disappointing, especially as you had organised a flight specifically to visit our London store.

Daiso stock arrives every 2 months from Japan and depending on the timing of your visit there may be more or less Daiso stock available to purchase. This all depends on customer demand, however we are working hard to combat this to ensure that stock levels remain as constant as possible.

It is true, as Loretta has replied, that Online food items can be found in store but can sometimes differ. Though all of the items Online can usually be found in store, over the past couple of years since www.japancentre.com began we have slightly diversified our Online products to reflect the demands of the Online shopper. This is where differences may occur, however there is generally more variety available regarding food items in store, with the in store stock changing periodically due to suppliers’ availability and new product lines.

The Online Homeware (Bento) section is almost exclusively for Online purchase only at the moment. In the Online department we have had to develop our own product lines specifically for our customers and so it is in this section where you may not also be able to find the same products in store. At the moment our Lunchbox Bento section is exclusively for Online purchase only and cannot be found in store. We found the in store stock could not keep up with Online demand and so had to look into our own product lines and stock levels. At the moment there are more Bento products available Online than in store, though I am aware that the Homeware manager at Japan Centre, Piccadilly is buying more Bento stock from Daiso for the future.

If yourself, or anyone interested in Online items would like to enquire via enquiry [at] japancentre [dot] com about their availability in store before a visit, the Online staff, or myself, would be more than happy to help you. Also, if you are looking for Bento items which are not available Online, please drop us an e-mail with your suggestions and we will look into ordering them in the future from Daiso.

Apologies again for the disappointment you felt on your visit to Japan Centre. We strive to give you the best service possible in store and Online so please do e-mail us with any queries.

Kind regards,

Hannah Tokumine Online Manager

Similar experience

I had a similar experience - went to buy a bento box at the store, and found they had very little stock. (To be fair, they had some, but they were the really childish Happy Balloon, and the lacquer effect “small bento”, which I didn’t like as it lacked a seal, and the lid didn’t sit very tightly.

Anyway, Hannah Tokumine has satisfactorily explained the situation above, and I will be ordering bento equipment from them online. (The £5 delivery fee is barely more than the return fare on the Underground.)

Issues with obtaining bento equipment aside, I ended up spending £60 during my visit on food and tableware, and am now happily set up for Japanese cooking.

Another good supplier of food for Japanese cooking in London is Hoo Hing. Although they’re primarily Chinese, they do a small Japanese section, and, most importantly, stock a very wide range of oriental fresh produce. (I found Japanese potatoes, burdock root, daikon, lotus root and quite a range of others.) Oh and they do fresh tofu, of course. They could be more accessible to people living in the suburbs (They have five warehouses dotted about.)

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