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[2018 Edition]Top 12 Must-Buy Souvenirs in Japan by Genre

One of the true pleasures of traveling is picking a souvenir. You have to choose a souvenir that will make those back at home happy! While you can definitely buy some at exclusive souvenir shops, if you find it hard to decide, then remember that you can also purchase souvenirs at 100-yen shops. Choose souvenirs that are unique to Japan.

If You’re After Usefulness!

1. Chopsticks

With designs that take after ukiyo-e (woodblock print) and cherry blossoms, chopsticks are popular souvenirs that give those who receive them a feel of Japan. Chopsticks come in a wide variety, including those that are paired with a chopstick rest, and those that can be washed in a dishwasher. Aside from being practical, they can be used as a hair ornament as long as you choose a beautiful design, so if you give them to women, they’d probably love them since they are considered a fashion item.

Chopsticks range from the cheap ones that are sold in 100-yen shops, up to expensive works of art using high-quality materials that are priced above 10,000 JPY. You can buy them at 100-yen shops, souvenir shops, department stores, and other establishments.


2. Tissue Paper

Tissue paper in Japan is known for being high-grade tissue as it uses high-quality paper that is mild on the skin. Tissue paper in a box can be bulky, so pocket tissues that are available in convenience stores, 100-yen shops and other stores are perfect for souvenir. If you will be giving the tissue to those who love character goods, then you would make them even happier if you give them tissue with character designs, such as Hello Kitty. The free pocket tissues distributed on the street are also a strange souvenir, so they are recommended!

3. Stationery

Japanese stationery, starting with ballpoint pens and pencils, are popular as souvenirs because they are easy to use and boast good quality. Unique stationery items are recommended, such as ballpoint pen (around 200 JPY) with eraser and stapler without staple wire (400 JPY – 2,000 JPY). If there is an engraving service available, then print the name of the gift’s recipient to make the souvenir more wonderful.

You can purchase stationery at ITOYA and other stationery shops, Tokyu Hands, department stores, and other establishments.

Frixion pen with eraser

4. Nail Clippers

Japanese nail clippers are famous for their high quality and usability. Nail clippers in Japan are generally made of stainless steel, so they do not become rusty even after being used for a long time. They can easily cut nails without exerting too much force, and most of them come with a cover that will prevent the cut nails from scattering. Nail clippers are sold for about 1,000 JPY at convenience stores, drugstores, and other shops. You can also purchase them at 100-yen stores.

If You’re After Impact!

5. Food Sample Magnets and Keychains

There are cafes and restaurants in Japan that display samples or models of dishes called “food samples” at their storefronts and inside their shops. These food samples are made to be exact replicas of the real dishes through the elaborate work of Japanese craftsmen, and they can be purchased as souvenirs from souvenir shops and other stores. There are many specialty shops for food samples in Tokyo’s Kappabashi area. These food samples come in a wide array of designs that include cute sweets and cakes, as well as tempura and ramen. They are priced from a few hundred to several thousand yen.

If you are looking for a sushi sample, then try to research the topping that the recipient wants. That person will definitely be happy if you buy that specific topping! Aside from magnets and key holders, there are also miniature sizes of these food samples that you can buy.

6. Confectionery

Japanese sweets come in a wide array of types and flavors, and there are many that you can only find in Japan. Wagashi (Japanese-style sweets) are not the only ones you should buy as souvenir, as snacks for the masses that you can find in local supermarkets, convenience stores, 100-yen shops and other spots are also recommended. If you will be giving the souvenir to someone who loves drinking alcohol, then you might want to consider salty snacks (such as Pretz and Kappa Ebisen) and spicy snacks (such as Karamucho and wasabi-flavor potato chips). For someone who has a sweet tooth, then it would be a great idea to give sweets (such as Pocky and Kinoko no Yama) that use chocolate and butter. These sweets are priced from 100 JPY to around 300 JPY.
One of the reasons Japanese sweets are popular is that they are individually wrapped, and do not come in a bulky bag, so they are easy to distribute.

7. Face Pack

A face pack will beautify your skin, but the face packs that are famous are those that come with a striking design. In particular, the Kabuki Face Pack that is inspired by kabuki, a traditional performing art in Japan, will surely surprise the one who puts it on! You can buy this from Kabuki-za Theater and Tokyu Hands. There are many other designs available, such as animated characters. The ingredients of the pack vary depending on the beautifying effect it gives, so how about buying several pieces at the drugstore and trying them on?

8. Japanese Sake with Gold Flakes

If you are considering sake as a souvenir, then it would be a great idea to go for sake with gold flakes inside to surprise the one who will get the gift! Once you pour the sake, the glittering gold flakes will make the table more radiant. Pour the sake into a transparent glass and enjoy the gold flakes dancing in the sake. Japanese sake with gold flakes is celebratory sake that is often served on New Year’s and in celebrations. Even if you drink the gold flakes, your body will not absorb them, so don’t worry! The taste of this sake varies depending on the Japanese sake used, so it would also be fun to go to a shop where you can taste the sake and find the one that you like.

If You're After Something Traditional!

9. Yukata

Yukata is a piece of clothing that is easy to wear and will let you enjoy the Japanese vibe. It is a type of kimono that is mainly made from light cotton fabric, and is worn as sleepwear and leisurewear in the summer. Meanwhile, a kimono comes in a variety of materials, including cotton, wool and silk, and is worn on New Year’s, wedding ceremonies and other formal events.

The kimono poses a relatively high hurdle in terms of how it is worn and its price, but the yukata is easy to wear and not that pricey, so it is recommended as souvenir. If the recipient is a man, then you can give him Japanese clothing called jinbei that is also a breeze to wear. Wearing geta (wooden clogs) could your toes hurt, so it would be best to get a set that comes with obi (sash) and zori (Japanese sandals). There are yukata sets that cost several thousand yen lately, but there are also complete sets that go as high as tens of thousands of yen.

It is recommended that you buy a yukata with design that will make you feel Japan’s traditions, instead of contemporary designs that target younger Japanese people.

10. Hand Towel

Tenugui (hand towel) is a piece of plain-woven cloth that has been used like a handkerchief and towel since olden times. It is thin and light, so it is not bulky to carry around and can be used to wrap small stuff. There are various designs available ranging from sober colors up to bright pop designs, including traditional patterns, as well as Mt. Fuji, cherry blossoms, animals, and food. It would be fun to choose the design according to the taste of the recipient. You can even use is as interior decoration by putting it in a frame and hanging it on the wall.

Hand towels are priced from about 1,000 JPY to several tens of thousands of yen. Aside from the hand towel specialty stores, you can also buy them at souvenir shops in airport and other spots.

Framed hand towels used as decoration.

11. Fan

Decorative folding fans and non-folding fans with beautiful and luxurious colors and designs are made to be seen. They are also nice when used as accent in interior decoration. There are many folding fans and regular fans for actual fanning that are cheaper than the decorative ones, and they come in chic colors, so you can use them everyday. Some fans have fragrances that give off a great scent when you flap the fan, while some fans come with patterns that will give you a cool feeling. Try to find one that suits your taste. Fans are sold at 100-yen shops during summer, too. They come in various designs, from traditional to contemporary patterns, so it would be a great idea to buy a lot of fans and distribute them to your friends.

12. Japanese Kitchen Knife

Japanese kitchen knives are popular with professional chefs not only in Japan, but all over whole world. These knives are known for their sharpness and ease of use! If you want to buy an authentic Japanese knife such as the ones used by the chefs in washoku (Japanese cuisine) and sushi restaurants, then how about visiting a veteran specialty store when you go sightseeing? You will find it fun just looking around since the blades and knives lined up in glass showcases are beautiful and come in various shapes and purposes. When choosing what to buy, though, try to actually hold the knife and determine the weight and shape that you think will make it easy for you to work.

Did you find a wonderful souvenir from your trip to Japan? Aside from souvenirs meant for your family and friends, make sure to find one or two that will serve as your very own souvenir, too!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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