Information, directions, and pictures for Japan Costco stores

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Japan Costco Information
News, directions, information, and pictures

I created this page in 2002 when Costco was opening their store in Machida (Tokyo).  I haven't added major updates, but if you scroll down, the information below should be a helpful introduction. Keep in mind this is a private site, not an official Costco website.   

If you need to speak with someone from Costco, see the right margin for phone numbers for all the Costco stores in Japan.  You should have no problem speaking with someone in English if you ask. Costco Japan didn't have a website when I created this page. Now they have a website with basic information, including simple maps (here). If you don't live near a Costco, you can still order Costco products via (a third party service).

Costco Hisayama

Costco Makuhari

Costco Tamasakai
Machida, Tokyo

Costco Amagasaki

Costco Yokohama
Kanazawa Seaside

How do I get to Tamasakai Costco?
Here are basic directions to help you get to the Costco in Tamasakai (Machida, Tokyo) by train or car.  By train - The store is located about 10 minutes walk from the Tamasakai Station on the Sagamihara Line.  Here are two ways to come by train.  Option #1 - Take the JR Yokohama line to Hashimoto Station, then take the Sagamihara Line to Tamasakai (just one station away).  When you get to Hashimoto Station there are almost no English signs.  Turn left as you go out the turnstiles, then follow the signs to the Keio Line (the Sagamihara Line is owned by Keio).  Buy a ticket at one of the green JR machines.  If you look closely they also say Keio.  The ticket is 130 yen.  Go through the turnstile and take the escalator (not the stairs) to the platform. Your train is to the left at the top of the escalator.  Option #2 - Take the Keio Line (the one that runs all the way from Shinjuku) to Tama Center. There are multiple trains that head in this direction -- make sure that you get on one that will go all the way to Tama Center. Not all of them do. Also, you will want to find a train marked "Express" since this is a long ride. Assuming that you are on an express train, then get off at Tama Center Station, but do not exit the platform. You will need to change to a "local" train that will stop at Tamasakai (an express train will not stop at this station).  Walking From Tamasakai Station - The store is about a 10 minute walk from the station.  Tamasakai Station is small, and there is only one main exit.  As you come out of the turnstiles turn left.  You emerge into sort of an underground space with an unattractive fountain in the center.  Take the first flight of stairs up.  At the top, go straight ahead past the covered bike parking area.  You'll see a large store ahead called S.P.A. Members Club.  Turn right when you reach the main road.  After about 80 meters you'll pass by a McDonald's.  Keep going.  After about 5 minutes you'll see Costco, but it will take you another 5 minutes to reach the store.  By car - You can reach the store by car via the Chuo or Tomei Expressways, and using Machida Route 16.  The store is actually a bit difficult to find, because in Oyama (where the store is located) streets are not well marked.  Costco will be placing signs on both the Chuo and Tomei expressways, along with signs all around the vicinity of the store, to guide drivers to the store.  So if you can get to the area, then follow the signs.  The parking lot is inside the building on the second and third floors.  Good luck!

Here are some "ordinary" deals just inside the door during a visit (of course, the featured products may change).

How do I become a member?  What if I am already a member in the USA?  What about adding someone to my current membership?
If you are a member of any Costco, then your membership card is good worldwide.  However, if you want to make a change, such as adding a family member who lives here, then you will need to transfer your membership to Costco Japan.  

I think the cost has gone up to 4000 yen per year (plus tax) for business members.  Business members can start shopping at 10 am on weekdays (Gold Star members have to wait until 11 am).  To join as a business member, bring a business card or business license to offer as evidence that you own your own business, or that you are a manager for a business (e.g., that you are purchasing for a business).  The cost for Gold Star members used to be 4000 yen per year (plus tax), but that may have increased slightly.  Shopping for Gold Star members starts at 11 am on weekdays and 10 am on weekends.

How does Costco in Japan compare with Costco in the USA?  What products will I find there? Etc.
You will find many of the same products here that are available at any Costco in the USA, including signature products like giant bottles of Prego, salsa, and olive oil.  Overall, about 60-70 percent of the products are the same products that you would find in the USA, and the rest are from Japan.  The prices for imported goods are, of course, higher than you would pay at a Costco in the USA. But the prices are very cheap compared with most other stores in Japan.

A family browses between walls of jumbo size snacks.  Most of the packaging is in English, and the products are virtually identical to the ones in any USA Costco store.  Of course, mixed in with the Tostitos and cashews are huge bags of assorted rice crackers, dried squid, and other Japanese snacks.

If you need a taste of home (for those who grew up with this stuff) here are some things that may help: a palette of microwave popcorn and Costco pizza and hot dogs.  The pizza tastes exactly like is does at any US store.

What if I only speak English?  Will there be English speaking staff?
All the managers and most staff at Costco are (at least) bilingual, so you can use English (even if you speak Japanese).

Costco's typical book table has most of the same books you'd find in a US store, and most are in English. Parents of English speaking children will appreciate all the children's books and other great things for kids.

By the way, the clothing area is just to the right of this table (as usual), with the normal selection of discounted shirts, pants, underwear, etc. The underwear packs all warn customers that they are in US sizes. :)

The toy and seasonal sports sections are also what you'd expect to find in a US store.

What is the future of Costco in Japan?
I believe Costco plans to keep adding one store each year in Japan. As far as I know, Costco still operates at a loss in Japan, with the anticipation of future profitability as the chain grows.  Presumably, when Costco grows big enough here, they will be able to cut out middle men more effectively and force their suppliers to sell at lower prices (and finally recoup their losses and then some).

Is there a phone number I can call for more information?
Yes.  See the right margin toward the top of this page for phone numbers to reach the Costco stores in Japan.  The phone will probably be answered in Japanese, but someone there should be able to speak with you in English if necessary.

Past Updates: The Construction of the Tamasakai Costco

This website started tracking the progress of the Machida Costco several months before the store opened in September, 2002.  You can scroll down to read past entries and see pictures of the building during construction.

  • September 3, 2002 - I started the basic information section above, which I will keep updated over time.

  • July 6, 2002 - Here are 2 more pictures of a flyer (indicating September 7, 2002 as the official opening date) and a map.  I am also told there will possibly be a pre-opening for Costco members, so you might want to keep that in mind.  Stores in Japan tend to open with a bang.

(click to view large version)

Flyer Detail
(click to view large version)

  • June 16, 2002 - See the first pictures!  These pictures were provided by Mike Renfro, who lives just minutes from the new Costco location at Tamasakai.  As you can see, the building is well under way, and it's going to be huge!

The banner (above) shows you what the future Machida-Tokyo Costco will look like.  The store will open on September 1, 2002.

The pictures below show the view down the left and right sides of the building.  Click each picture to see a larger version.

  • June 9, 2002 - I received this by email from someone who lives near the site and saw the building:  "It's pretty darn huge! For Japan it is really big! I have been to the one in Makuhari. This one looks like the same size or bigger."

  • March 25, 2002 - According to Richard Chavez, who is in charge of Costco's Asia operations, Costco will open a new store in the Tama area in September, 2002.  See his interview in Business Week Magazine

  • August, 2001 - According to the Housewares Export Council, the new store will cover 29,000 square feet of space and carry 4000 to 4500 items, and  Costco projects annual sales of 10 billion yen.  Future expansion plans include stores in cities such as Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

  • It will be in Tama (in Machida, Tokyo) near the Tamasakai train station.  It's actually on a smaller line (the Sagamihara Line).  It's two stops from the Tama Center (Odakyu Tama Line) and one stop from Hashimoto (at the end of the JR Yokohama Line).


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