Parisian branch of Muji is perfect blend of European and Japanese tastes.

Lifestyle brand Muji is loved for its minimalistic yet chic goods, and has gained such a following that there are now branches of the Japanese store in over thirty countries all over the world. In fact, such is Muji’s international popularity that there are now more Muji stores abroad than in Japan.

Our Japanese-language reporter and avid traveller Ikuna Kamezawa recently found herself visiting one such overseas branch of Muji in Paris, France. But Ikuna wasn’t just popping into a French branch of Muji for a quick shop; she was looking for some Muji merchandise that was exclusive to France.

Often when Japanese companies expand overseas they offer regionally exclusive products, usually showcasing a popular item or scene from the area. Ikuna was excited to see what kind of stylish souvenirs were on offer at the Muji she’d found in the Westfield Forum des Halles shopping mall. Surely they’d be oozing with French charm!

As Ikuna entered the store, she was pleasantly surprised at how similar the interior looked to a regular old Japanese branch of Muji.

▼ Is this really Paris, or did Ikuna somehow get teleported back to Japan?

No, she was very much still in France, and so she began her quest to discover that special item, that product exclusive to the French branches of Muji. It was somewhere in here!

Strawberries covered in white chocolate were being heavily advertised in this French Muji. They certainly looked stylish and sophisticated enough to be considered a France-exclusive product, but as they’re available to buy in Japan too, Ikuna wasn’t interested.

The furniture section looked pretty standard as well. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

The socks were identical too, even the big-toed tabi socks seen here at the bottom, and Ikuna was surprised to learn that French people like to wear such Japanese-looking socks.

And then, when she was just about to give up, she spotted it!

▼ An Eiffel Tower stamp! Surely this had to be France-exclusive?!

Ikuna spotted a tower-shaped stamp in the Muji Yourself stamp station. If there were to be a single symbol to showcase France on a souvenir, it had to be the famous Eiffel Tower. She’d found the France-exclusive item!

…or so she thought, until she asked a nearby member of staff, who told her that the tower stamp was actually available all over the world, and the more we look at it, the silhouette is actually closer to Tokyo Tower. The member of staff broke Ikuna’s heart further by adding:

“Basically, we don’t really have any ‘France-exclusive’ items here.”

Whilst Ikuna was heartbroken, despite the clerk’s words she actually did come across an aisle full of scented candles that are only sold in France. And while this technically counted as a ‘France-exclusive’ item, it didn’t really scream ‘France’ to Ikuna, although the aisle certainly smelled wonderful all the same.

▼ Maybe if they had an Eiffel Tower stamped on them, they’d look more ‘French’.

But as Ikuna made her second and third trip around the store, she noticed a difference in trends between Japanese Muji and French Muji. Wooden clothes pegs seemed to be very popular here and a large volume were on display.

▼ That’s a lot of wooden pegs.

▼ Japanese style bento boxes also seemed to be popular with French Muji fans.

It was the food section that felt the most ‘French’ for Ikuna, though, as the kinds of food on sale and their countries of origins felt very ‘France-like’.

▼ Pasta sauce with ingredients from Italy…

▼ Cheese sticks with ingredients from the Netherlands…

▼ And of course, Muji’s famous garlic potato chips using potatoes grown right here in France!

Yes, it was only when Ikuna hit the food section did she really feel like she was shopping in a French branch of Muji, with so many of the products made from ingredients sourced from Europe. She was especially impressed with the garlic potato chips — after all, every French supermarket must sell potato chips made from French potatoes, but to go to the trouble of re-importing Japanese chips made from French potatoes?

“The French really love their country,” Ikuna thought.

▼ There was a selection of Japanese food products on sale, too.

▼ Ikuna ended up buying some


While there didn’t appear to be any food items exclusive to France, Ikuna decided to get some Japanese instant soup, radish chips and potato chips, namely the Guérande Sea Salt Potato Chips. They’re available in Japan, but this was the first time for her to try them out.

▼ The Guérande Sea Salt Potato Chips cost €2.50 (US$2.84)– roughly the same price as in Japan

As Ikuna took a bite, she couldn’t help but blurt out “Yum!”. The chips were born of French agriculture and Japanese technology — what a combination!

So in the end, Ikuna couldn’t find a good ‘This is from France!’ souvenir from the Parisian branch of Muji, but she did get to enjoy some delicious potato chips. And there’s plenty of delicious Japanese food there too, so if there’s anyone in France missing Japanese cuisine, Muji’s a great place to go to.

Although with the ever increasing number of baumkuchen on sale at Muji, surely it’s surely only a matter of time before they make a French-exclusive flavour, like escargot. After all, it goes well enough with ice-cream, so why not?

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