One of the real pleasures of traveling is choosing souvenirs. Souvenir shops can be a great place to find some good souvenirs for your friends and family back home, but if you are really struggling to find something, we recommend paying a visit to a 100 yen shop. Let’s have a look at some typically Japanese souvenirs.
For something practical…
With images from ukiyoe, cherry blossoms and other typically Japanese things, chopsticks make a great souvenir of Japan. Known as hashi in Japanese, you can find a wide variety of chopsticks, including sets chopsticks and chopstick rests, as well as chopsticks that are dishwasher friendly. As well as being practical items, chopsticks with a pretty pattern can be used as kanzashi (hair ornaments), which makes them a popular item for fashion conscious women.
There are a wide variety of chopsticks available, from simple, inexpensive chopsticks at 100 yen shops to expensive chopsticks made with high quality materials that are almost like works of art costing over 10,000 yen. You can buy chopsticks at all sorts of stores, including 100 yen shops, souvenir stores and department stores.
2. Tissue Paper
Japanese tissue paper is known for its use of high quality paper and its moistness. Boxes of tissues can be rather bulky, but small packets of pocket tissues which you can buy at convenience stores or 100 yen shops make an ideal souvenir. If you’re looking to give a present to an anime or manga fan, tissues with the characters on then might make a great souvenir. We also recommend the free pocket tissues handed out on the streets as a cultural souvenir from Japan.
From ball pens to mechanical pencils, Japanese stationery is well known for its high quality and ease of use, and is popular as a souvenir. We recommend some of the more unique items, such as ball pens which can be erased (about 200 yen) or staple-less staplers (400 yen to 2,000 yen). And if they offer a name printing service, why not get the name of the person you were planning on giving the gift to put on the stationery as well? It will make it a much more personal present.
You can find all sorts of stationery at stationery stores such as ITOYA, as well as Tokyo HANDS and department stores.
Frixion erasable ball pens
For something with impact…
4. Food sample magnets and key rings
In Japan, you will often find cafes and restaurants with models of the food available on display at the entrance or inside. Known as “food samples,” these models are carefully made by craftsman to look identical to the real thing. You can buy these food samples at souvenir shops, but there are a number of dedicated food samples stores in Tokyo’s Kappabashi area where you can also buy them. There are a wide variety of different types available, ranging from cute sweets and cakes to tempura, and ramen. The prices range from a few hundred yen to a few thousand yen.
If you are looking to buy a sushi food sample for someone as a present, if you find out what sort of sushi they like in advance and buy a model of that, they are sure to be happy. You can also find small magnets or key rings of the dishes as well.
Japan has a wide variety of types and flavors of sweets, and there are some sweets that you can only find in Japan. As well as traditional Japanese sweets, known as wagashi, we recommend the everyday snacks and sweets that you can find in local supermarkets and convenience stores as souvenirs, as well. If the person you are looking to buy the present for likes to drink, why not treat them to some salty snacks (such as Pritz or Curls) or spicy snacks (Karamucho or wasabi flavored potato chips). If they have a sweet tooth, we recommend chocolate or buttery sweets (such as Pocky or Kinoko-no-yama.) You can find these sweets for about 100 to 300 yen.
Japanese sweets come in small individual packets which makes them easier to share, which is one of the reasons behind their popularity.
If you are after something traditional…
The Yukawa is a type of kimono that usually made with thin cotton and worn when sleeping or during the summer. Meanwhile, kimono are usually made of a variety of materials including cotton, wool and silk, and are usually worn at formal events, such as at new year’s or at wedding ceremonies. Yukata are easy to put on, which makes them a great gift to experience Japanese culture.
Both buying and putting on a kimono can be quite a challenge, but yukata are generally not that expensive and can be put on quite easily, which makes them ideal as a souvenir. For men, there is a garment known as a jinbei that is equally easy to put on as a yukata. As wearing wooden sandals known as geta can harm your toes, it is probably best to choose a set that comes with both an obi belt and zori sandals. You can find yukata at a wide variety of prices, with sets ranging from a few thousand yen to several tens of thousands of yen.
We recommend looking for a more traditional type of yukata, rather than the more recent patterns aimed at young Japanese people.
A tenugui is a traditional Japanese plain cloth used since the olden days as a handkerchief of a towel. Made from very light and thin fabric, they are easy to carry around and are great for wrapping something up. As well as traditional Japanese style patterns, you can find tenugui in all sorts of designs such as pictures of Mt. Fuji, cherry blossom, animals and food, and in a wide variety of colors, including subdued colors as well as bright pop designs. Choosing a pattern and color that matches the taste of the person you are going to give it to can be very enjoyable. There are also people who put tenugui into a frame hang them up as part of their interior decoration.
The cost of a tenugui can range from one thousand yen to several tens of thousands of yen. As well as dedicated tenugui shops, you can also find tenugui at airports and souvenir shops.
We hope this list helped you find a wonderful souvenir of your times in Japan. Don’t forget to buy yourself a souvenir of your travels as well!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.