Just back from a week in Tokyo and I thought I would share my shopping impressions. We were on the hunt for cameras and watches and visited Bic Camera, Yodabashi Camera and a few smaller shops. We then compared them to Narita Airport duty-free. Be aware that in most shops downtown as a visitor you can show your passport and get your purchases tax free plus an additional 5% off if you use a credit card. The total discount is 13% on purchases over $100.
We found Bic Camera had consistently lower prices and a great selection. In general the prices in Japan are similar to home so shop carefully and try to take advantage of the tax breaks. It does mean shopping with your passport in your pocket and not tucked away in the hotel safe.
Duty-free at Narita South Terminal was disappointing and we found the prices for cameras and watches much higher than those in town. We did purchase a couple of bottles of scotch because that is a good deal for Canadians as our liquor prices are very high domestically.
Do be aware that you may see cheaper cameras in Tokyo but make sure that they are not domestic models that may only have a Japanese menu. Sony and Panasonic make Japan only models that have limited warranties and Japanese only menus. Be careful!