Department stores are a social institution in Japan, and it is not at all unusual for a Japanese family to spend an entire day at a department store. At the present time, the exchange rate of the US dollar against the Japanese yen reflects a gain of 10 percent in favor of the dollar from a year ago. This is good news for the American tourist in Japan who may want to do some shopping.
There are a dozen or so major department stores in Tokyo which offer much more than merchandise. For example, department stores traditionally maintain galleries and halls where art shows, bonsai, ceramic, and lacquerware exhibits are displayed. The basement floors of department stores are completely given over to the selling of foods: meat, fish, imported gourmet foods, and so on. The top floors are devoted to the consumption of food, with dining rooms and snack bars with very reasonable prices. Rooftops are utilized as play areas for youngsters, with kiddielands, includings rides, zoos, and games to keep children occupied.