First off, I will say I love glasses made in Japan or Korea because they actually fit my face! For those lucky enough to be unaware, Asian faces face a couple of problems when confronted with American or European frames—(1) they slide down our noses constantly, and (2) big frames sit on our big (mothefucking) cheekbones and move up and down when we smile. Asian frames fit my face better because the nose bridge is built in higher.
I decided to buy glasses in Tokyo because Japan has a much lower cost for glasses than the United States because, in Japan, an optician can administer a basic vision test and fill your glasses prescription. In case you have a thirst to know why, I will tell you what my First Amendment professor (2nd year of law school, my god, I learned something albeit unrelated to law) said. He told us the optometrist lobbyists in America are really strong and have successfully lobbied to prevent opticians from filling glasses without a prescription ordered by an optometrist! This means that Americans, unlike Japanese, need to pay an optometrist to have an eye exam every time we want a new pair of glasses.
Since I don’t currently have eye insurance, I decided to take advantage of my location in Tokyo and buy two new pairs of glasses. Here’s a review of my (very positive) experience:
Zoff Park. Zoff is a chain eyeglass shop in Tokyo (no contact lenses available here). They have a huge selection for men and women, great prices (most frames are only 5000-yen), and truly superb service! The price of any frame includes the price of lenses and basic vision test! The only time you pay more than the listed price of the frames is when you need some special service, i.e., one of my friends is like legally blind (-9.0 or something), so she wanted her lenses mad compressed–that costs extra.
Once you pick out your frames, you immediately are taken aside to have a vision test done; no appointment needed! I describe the basic vision test in more detail below, but I will say I felt reassured that they were thorough in checking and verifying my prescription — after determining my prescription from the vision test, they showed me exactly what the prescription would look like by putting lenses in test glasses. Don’t know what test glasses are? These things:
Once I was satisfied that the prescription they recommended was correct, I simply sat and waited for 30-minutes and my glasses were done! They asked me to put them on and give a final check to make sure everything looked A-OK. They also provide a free glasses case and kindly cleaned my old glasses as an added little service ^-^! Love it!
Japanese Vision Test. The people at Zoff Harajuku speak pretty passable English, so I recommend you visit that location if, like me, you don’t speak Japanese. The basic vision test has two parts:
Test 1. They simply show you a variety of c’s as seen above. You simply point which direction it’s facing and that indicates to them if you need a higher prescription or not. It’s great because you don’t need to read any Japanese characters.
Test 2. I can’t find a photo of this one, but it’s kind of funny because there’s a split screen (red and green) and the left side has a 6 and the right side has a 9. They keep changing the lenses and asking you, “Six or Nine?” ^^ #immatureAmerican
Frames. For me, I paid 4000-yen ($50 USD) for a pair numbered ZC01007 in E-2. They’re a fun red hipstery (I hate to think I own something hipster, but let’s call a spade a spade, I suppose) glasses:
That Zoff carries this type of novel plastic frame is a testament to its wide selection. There are tons of thick-framed, colorful and stylish glasses, as well as more professional and traditional frames.
Speaking of, I also got a 9000-yen pair ($100 USD) of Zoff SMART glasses for work (and play, apparently), which are numbered ZK11012 in C-1A :
Zoff SMART frames are among the most expensive pairs in the store and they’re only about $100 USD, so not even pricey. They cost more because they’re more flexible and lightweight — built for comfort and durability! 🙂
American Alternative. For in LA, you can buy made in Korea frames for under $100 at Harvard Optometry in Rowland Heights. Obviously, you must pay more for the vision test and to fill the lenses.