Top 8 Souvenirs To Buy In Japan

Japan is a country famous for its harmonious blending of both traditional and ultra-modern culture, and everything in between. The souvenirs on this list reflect that wide variety. Wherever your interests lie, you will find something in Japan to satisfy them, and this list will give you a few guidelines on where to begin to memorialize your experience.

 

1. Sweets and snacks

Photo by sanmai on Foter.com

Photo by sanmai on Foter.com

 

Small, relatively cheap, and easy to transport en (relative) masse, sweets and snacks are great souvenirs both to bring back for large groups like co-workers, acquaintances, and extended family members, along with anyone who wants a unique culinary experience. Japan is a mecca of weird and delicious snack foods.

 

Depending on where you’re from some of the snacks here may or may not be sold in your country, so try to pick up some that can’t be found back home. Whether you want to go for deliciousness, strangeness, or novelty factors, you’ll be sure to find it. Like other aspects of Japan, their snacks come in both traditional and modern varieties. For traditional, some examples are wagashi (a traditional confection served with tea,) andkonpeito (sugar candy). For modern, there are many delicious eatables such as mochi, dorayaki, hiyuko (cute animal-shaped cakes,) and pocky sticks. And that’s not even going into the western snacks that are taken to all new flavorful extremes in Japan: Kit-Kats, Oreos, and potato chips all come in a seemingly endless variety of wild and creative flavors.

 

Click here to buy

 

2. Matcha

Picture Credits: pixabay.com

Picture Credits: pixabay.com

 

Matcha has been a big part of life and culture in Japan for centuries, but in recent years it has become a trendy flavor sensation all across the globe, and especially throughout Asia. Seemingly every food and drink now comes in a “matcha” flavor in Japan, so why not take some of this remarkable substance home for yourself?

 

Matcha is a specially grown powdered form of green tea that is typically consumed after being dissolved in water or milk. Its preparation and consumption were taken to a (literally) religious level by Zen Buddhists around the 15th century when they developed the famous “Japanese Tea Ceremony.” For many years, matcha was found only in monasteries, but its popularity in recent years has caused it to spread seemingly everywhere.

 

Click here to buy

 

3. Traditional Toys

Picture Credits: pixabay.com

Picture Credits: pixabay.com

 

Small and inexpensive, traditional toys are another convenient keepsake to bring back from your travels. On top of this, many of them are a surprising amount of fun to play with. Some notable standouts are the kendama (a ball and string toy that challenges you to catch the ball or perform various tricks,) the Koma (the Japanese spinning top,) menko cards (a kind of classic card-battling game decorated with colorful samurai pictures,) and the taktonbo (a deceivingly simple flying propeller toy.)

 

Click here to buy

 

4. Koinobori

Photo by Japanexperterna.se on Foter.com

Photo by Japanexperterna.se on Foter.com

 

Koinoboris are carp-shaped streamers that are traditionally flown above houses from April until early May to celebrate Children’s Day, each fish representing a different member of the family. The carp is viewed by the Japanese as the most spirited and determined fish, fighting its way upstream every year, and thus represents the wish that the children will grow up healthy and strong. A striking and unique image, the koinobori has now become emblematic of Japan in the eyes of many foreigners, who may or may not know its actual meaning.

 

Click here to buy

 

5. Kimono

Photo on Foter.com

Photo on Foter.com

 

The most iconic article of Japanese clothing is the kimono, of which there are actually several different kinds.  If you want to buy the traditional variety, it can be a big process: they’ll usually take your size and then work on it for six months to a year, after which they will ship it to you. It’s also rather expensive, costing tens of thousands of yen, though if you want a cheaper price, you can check at a second-hand shop.

 

An easier and more common option, however, is to buy the “summer kimono” variety known as the“yukata.”This type of kimono is much lighter, cheaper and more comfortable. They will usually cost around ten thousand yen instead of several tens of thousands. Be sure to also get the “obi” belt used to tie the garment around your waist, along with the accompanying geta (sandals).

 

Click here to buy

 

6. Sake

Photo by halfrain on Foter.com

Photo by halfrain on Foter.com

 

One of the few, perhaps only, Asian rice wines that seem to be at least slightly enjoyable to the western palette is Japanese “sake.” Part of sake’s unique flavor comes from being produced in a brewing process, more similar to beer than the fermentation involved to make fruit-based wines. An added benefit of shopping for sake is that higher-end liquor stores will generally give you free samples before you buy (this also probably helps to loosen the buyer’s pockets a bit, so be careful). If you’re getting sake, you should also consider picking up the traditional implements of consumption- the tokkuri, a small earthenware jug for warming the beverage, and the sakazuki, a small porcelain cup for sipping.

 

 

7. Media Merchandise

Photo by Guwashi999 on Foter.com

Photo by Guwashi999 on Foter.com

 

No matter what kind of media obsession you have, it’s safe to say that Japan has a shop catering to it. Video games, anime, movies, manga- all facets of geek culture have a strong presence in Japanese pop culture, and the Japanese are masters of taking their obsessions beyond mere on-screen consumption, resulting in countless elaborately detailed figurines, posters, comics, and other types of artwork. Often located in specialized districts and shopping centers of Tokyo, these types of shops can be a blast to walk around even if you’re not buying anything, just to experience the unbounded spectacle and creativity.

 

 

8. Dolls

Picture Credits: pixabay.com

Picture Credits: pixabay.com

 

Japanese dolls are one of the culture’s most important traditional crafts. For thousands of years, dolls have been used in Japan not just for play, but for a variety of purposes: religious ceremonies, protection from evil spirits, magic spells, fortune telling, attainment of wealth and goals, and as decorations or worship pieces for shrines and temples. Because of this variety of uses, there are a lot of different traditional dolls to choose from, but they will almost certainly be uniquely detailed and well-crafted. One recommendation is the “Daruma,” those little red egg-shaped guys with two blank white eyes. When you make a life-goal, you can add one pupil to the daruma’s eye. When that goal is realized, you can color in the other pupil as well to show your success. A practical and aesthetic little complement to your home that also brings a taste of culture!

 

Click here to buy

Written by:
Updated: