Why Tourists Might Want To Consider Getting An Eye Exam While Visiting Japan

The secret's out: Due to its weakening yen, Japan is becoming a budget-friendly destination. In fact, visiting Japan can be cheaper than Thailand and other famously affordable travel spots. And besides saving on hotels and meals, you can snag a superb deal on eye exams when traveling around the Land of the Rising Sun.

Visit an eyeglass shop in Japan, and you'll usually find that an eye exam is completely free when you purchase glasses. This keeps the price of getting new specs low compared to many other countries. TikToker and Tokyo resident @whatthepato posted a video showing the process at glasses retailer Jins. In the clip, the content creator says all you have to do is head to the store, try on the many pairs set out on display, and select the frames that best suit your style.


Come get glasses with us in Tokyo Japan 🗼🤓 Its amazing how efficient they are with everything and how they make it so easy for anybody to just stop by the store and purchase a pair or two! #japan #tokyo #jins #japanese #glasses #wheninjapan #ebisu

♬ 休日のひとり勉強会 – Reo

Then, tell a staff member which glasses you'd like to purchase and be guided to an eye exam machine. The machine, along with the staff member, will determine what prescription you need for your lenses. Return later to retrieve your custom-made glasses — in the clip, @whatthepato and her friend were able to pick them up from a locker using a QR code. The total for two glasses with lenses and their protective cases: just ¥11,840, or around $80, depending on the exchange rate.

Where to get an eye exam in Japan

For the most streamlined experience, consider visiting one of Japan's eyeglasses chain stores, such as Jins or Zoff. You can find these shops across the country, often in shopping centers and near train stations. If your Japanese language skills aren't so great, try sticking to stores in tourist-heavy locations, where a staff member may be more likely to speak English. Otherwise, prepare to use translation apps to make communication easier, or go the old-fashioned way and use respectable gestures.

Keep in mind that the chain stores that offer free exams don't specialize in diagnosing medical issues or providing detailed eye tests. Examinations are basic and only for the purpose of providing glasses. Moreover, you may have trouble nabbing a free examination without committing to a purchase of glasses first. Even if you are able to walk away with a free prescription without having to buy new specs, be aware that an eye doctor or glasses store in your home country may not recognize the results of your Japanese eye test.

What about contact lenses?

Getting contacts in Japan can be a little more complicated than purchasing glasses, especially if you're a tourist. However, some stores offer contacts without proof of a prescription. For instance, spend an afternoon browsing megastore Don Quijote (arguably one of the best things to do in Tokyo for first-time visitors), and you'll find a range of contact lenses, including many colored options. Depending on the location, you may be able to stock up without providing a prescription, though expect to be given a waiver to sign first. Content creator @yashoras shared a similar process at the D'or cosmetics store in Harajuku.

If you're not sure what prescription you need (an eyeglasses prescription isn't the same as a contacts prescription, FYI), or if you simply want more options when buying contacts, you'll need to see a doctor for a thorough eye check first. If you aren't a resident with a fixed address, some clinics won't let you register. Look for English-speaking ophthalmologists or optometrists in the area of Japan you'll be visiting and confirm that they accept tourists as patients before making your appointment.