Many tourist guide books that are sold here in the US for travel in Japan have entire sections dedicated to buying camera equipment, as if there are huge financial advantages to doing so. I suspect, though, that with the advent of cheap online retailers in the past decade and the strengthening of the Japanese Yen might have nullified such advantages. Since I may be going to Japan again, I wonder if I should hold off buying some equipment and purchase it while I am there.
Under what circumstances is it financially beneficial to buy camera equipment (bodies, lenses, &c.) while in Japan?
I realize that this is going to vary a lot over time as it is dependent on exchange rates and duties/taxes. Let's assume one can be refunded the Japanese consumption tax and one can also avoid all import duties. Can it really be significantly cheaper than buying from a discount online retailer?
I'm specifically interested in stories from people who have purchased equipment while abroad in Japan, and/or direct comparisons between current prices in Japan and prices in other countries. For the latter, please post the current exchange rate between then Yen and the currency of the other country so this information might be useful to future readers.