When traveling in Japan you are sure to encounter many intriguing items that are unique to Japan, which would make for fantastic gifts to share with your friends and family back home. So what are the best souvenirs to bring back from Japan? Luckily, many great gifts and souvenirs you can find in Japan are low priced yet provide an authentic glimpse into Japanese tradition and cultural history.
1. Kimono and Yukata
Traditional Japanese items are some of the perfect souvenirs to remember your journey by. Things that can be found nowhere else but Japan include traditional clothes such as robes or kimonos, summer robes or yukata. Yukawa are rather casual and cheaper comparing to kimono.
Geta is a traditional Japanese wooden flip-flops which goes with kimono and yukata. They are made of wood with a cloth thong to held the feet called “hanao”. The cloth have various kind of prints and you will be able to find something you will like! It’s sold at most Japanese souvenir shops.
3. Japanese tablewares: green tea teapots and bento boxes
You can also never go wrong with traditional teapots and matcha tea sets that can be used to whisk up great memories, as well as great taste of green tea. Japanese teapots and tea sets come in all shapes and sizes. Some are decorated with village scenes and Japanese characters that complete an elegant design. Many other specialty cooking and food items can only be found in Japan. Home of the bento or combination box, Japan is the perfect place to pick up one of these lunch-boxes with neatly separated compartments for hearty meals. These range in design from those suited for kids to more elegant boxes.
4. Japanese knives and chopsticks
On the cooking end, Japanese knives are some of the best in the world. From the days of the samurai up until modern times, the blade-making process has been perfected in Japan. Pick up these traditional knives or try a ceramic knife that offers enormous satisfaction in cutting through fresh produce. Other cooking items like chopsticks or hashi make for great traditional souvenirs. Some of the shops let you carve your name on chopsticks! Kappabashi near Ueno is a great location to find Japanese quality cooking equipments and tablewares.
5. Japanese snacks
Speaking of cooking, food is what the Japanese perhaps do best. When you go to Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores (combini), you will be able to find thousands of delicious looking snacks. Japanese snacks are high quality and tasty. Don’t miss them!
6. Japanese matcha flavored snack
I have heard that matcha flavor is becoming very popular among the U.S. and European countries. Well, if you come to Japan, you will be able to find lots of Japanese flavored snacks in any supermarkets and convenience stores. Supermarkets are filled with green packaged matcha flavored snacks especially in the spring season.
7. Japanese special KitKat flavors
Did you know that there are various Japanese special flavors of KitKats? The most famous matcha flavored snack as a souvenir is matcha flavored KitKats, but there are more kinds depending on the local specialities. Those limited flavors are only able to be purchased at certain part of Japan.
8. Japanese instant food
The Japanese are experts in freeze-dried instant foods that require a short microwave or some hot water. Try their packaged curry sauce or some furikake which are flavored flakes to add on top of rice. The best part is that these are extremely cheap, but one word of warning: The instructions will mostly like be in Japanese.
9. Lucky cat, “Maneki Neko”
Home items like the maneki neko or the lucky white cat statue look great up on any shelf and business entrance. It is easy to find beautiful fans and lanterns decorated with traditional patterns and pictures.
10. Kokeshi doll
Kokeshi are Japanese dolls originally from northern Japan, which is handmade from wood. Traditional Japanese motifs are given a modern twist at a shop called Tokyo Kitsch. Their ‘akari kokeshi’ wooden doll conceals an LED light that switches on automatically when it’s picked up or knocked over – a neat trick that might prove invaluable if (or when) the Big One hits.
11. Bonsai kit
Bonsai is a Japanese art form using miniature trees. This DIY bonsai set comes complete with seeds, soil and a pot to put them in, meaning that all you’ll need is water – oh, and the patience of a Zen monk.
12. Folding fans
Folding fans have become another symbol of Japan. During the summer in Japan we used our fans all the time. It’s very common to see both men and women using fans to cool off in the summer heat and humidity.
13. Japanese paper “Washi”
Japanese paper is made using fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub, or the paper mulberry, but it can also be made from bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat. The traditional washi is known for its thin and high quality and of course the beauty of the prints. I’m sure people will be very deleted if you use them as a wrapping paper or a message card.
Tenugui is a thin Japanese towel made of cotton. It’s quick dry, smooth textures are used for washcloth, dishcloth, hand towel, and also decorations! Find cutest print tenugui and bring back as a gift.
15. Wind bell “Furin”
Delicate furin or tiny glass and metal bells ring gentle in the breeze and make for great front porch or back patio additions. Japanese hang them by the window during summer, because the sound of Furin makes the feeling of hot milder.
There is so much you can bring back from your trip to Japan. Remember, the best souvenirs in Japan are not found in tourist shops but at local markets that sell everyday goods look carefully and choose what you want to just to remember the wonderfulness in this state of sakura, the empire of the rising sun.