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What to Buy in Japan: Souvenirs to Take Home

What to Buy in Japan: Souvenirs to Take Home

Heading to Japan and don’t know what to get? These are the best Japanese souvenirs to take home.

A trip to Japan would be incomplete without some authentic Japan souvenirs to bring home for yourself, family, and friends.

The Japanese are masters of the art of gift-giving and have perfected the culture of omiyage. This is a word that loosely translates to “souvenir” although it means much more than that.

Omiyage is something you give as a gift after returning home from a trip, and it should be more than the typical keychain, fridge magnet, or “I love Japan sticker”.

One of the best aspects of traveling to Japan is to meander through the packed street shops, markets, and convenience stores.

This will help you get a deeper understanding of local Japanese culture as you also get ideas on what souvenirs to buy from Japan.

Tip: For any trip, planning is key. If you’re traveling on a budget, one of the best tips is to plan your Japanese souvenir purchases well ahead of time.

This will help you avoid making impulsive buys on items that don’t really matter or which will not evoke memories of Japan.

16 Best Souvenirs to Buy while Visiting Japan

If a trip to Japan, the “Land of the Rising Sun” is on the agenda, we’ve got you fully covered. You must get a tangible and worthy Japan souvenir to bring home, something that will remind you of your days in Japan.

The good news is that this Asian nation has no shortage of gift items and souvenirs to bring home.

As a country, Japan has many faces which means her souvenirs are equally diverse.

They range from inexpensive Japan trinkets to expensive souvenirs such as kimonos. You are certain of getting something that meets your specific requirements.

The only problem may be deciding on souvenirs to buy while visiting Japan and what to leave.

To help you make the right choices in terms of what to buy in Japan, we have the following recommendations on the best souvenirs from Japan.

Daruma Doll, the Popular Japan Souvenir

3 Daruma Dolls
Daruma Dolls

Arguably, this is the most popular non-food Japan souvenir. Daruma is a paper-mâché doll, a good luck charm hugely popular among the Japanese.

Daruma dolls are representations of Daruma, the father of Zen Buddhism, seated in meditation. They symbolize positivity.

Wherever your travels in Japan take you, the unmistakable little redheads without eyes are a common sight, especially in major tourist spots.

Daruma ranks among the best souvenirs from Japan and are available in all sorts of colors and sizes, including pocket-size figurines.

Traditionally, they are sold at Buddhist shrines in early January, although you can still get these Japanese souvenirs year-round at leading shops across the country.

Omamori, the Good Luck Charms

For a traditional, spiritual, yet meaningful Japanese souvenir, look for a Shinto shrine and get omamori. 

These are charms used by the Japanese for prayer. If you have a spiritual friend back home and you are still confused about what to buy in Japan for him or her, one of these lucky charms will do perfectly.

Getting omamori will not cost you a leg as these inexpensive souvenirs from Japan cost just a few hundred Japanese Yen.

See Related: 9 Best Ryokans in Hakone

Sensu, the Folding Fan Japanese souvenir

A hand-held Japanese sansu folding fanu
Sensu Folding Fan

Japanese folding fans, locally known as sensu are another budget-friendly, lightweight and super-traditional souvenirs to buy while visiting Japan.

These are extremely handy as they fold up easily to make a small package, the perfect gift items when you want to surprise several people back home.

From inexpensive, paper options to handmade, intricate sensu made of wood and fabric, you are certain of finding a sensu fan that suits any recipient.

In Japan, traditionally sensu is usually carried around, nicely tucked in the sash of your kimono or yukata.

The picture would, therefore, be complete if you also purchase the fan together with a kimono or yukata.

Kimono, the Iconic Souvenir from Japan

3 Japanese women adorned in classy kimonos
Japanese Kimonos

If you are looking for a classy and expensive souvenir from Japan, then go for a kimono. This is probably the best-known garb in Japan and is worn by both men and women.

You can buy kimonos in many of the popular places you are likely to visit in Japan. If in Kyoto, you can get stunning kimonos there as this is also Japan’s geisha capital.

You will not only have a classy souvenir from Japan but also leave folks back home truly awed.

Even better, why not surprise your spouse with a cool kimono?

See Related: Best Places to Visit For Your Birthday

Yukata Paired with Geta/Zori Sandals

Japanese woman in a cool Yukata
Yukata Kmono

Yukata is Japanese summer casual clothing. 

These Japanese souvenirs are similar to a kimono, however, compared to a kimono, it’s much easier to put on a yukata.

So, why not find a good yukata and take it back with you and show folks back home your Japanese exploits?

The light summer yukata kimono is one of the most popular Japanese souvenirs. You can find them in specialty kimono shops.

For that complete look, also consider getting geta or zori, the traditional Japanese sandals.

See Related: Best Travel Credit Cards for International Trips

Chopsticks and their Holders

Man using chopsticks to eat a meal
Using Chopsticks

When looking for classic Japanese souvenirs, a pair of chopsticks is usually among the first things a visitor to Japan considers. Used daily, chopsticks are found everywhere in Japan.

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to design options, colors, and patterns to choose from.

You can even have your name engraved on chopsticks. If you love cooking Asian cuisine back home, getting some chopsticks is a great idea!

As you shop for souvenirs to buy while visiting Japan, remember that etiquette among the Japanese is important, the reason why you should also invest in quality chopstick holders.

The idea behind chopstick holders is to keep the tips of the chopsticks off the table for hygiene purposes.

It’s also to prevent used chopsticks from falling off the table or contaminating the unused ones. You can opt to get origami chopstick rests or other designs made of bamboo or yew.

World-Famous Japanese Electronics

A set of quality Sony headphones
Sony Headphone

When it comes to what souvenirs to buy from Japan, their electronics need no introduction in terms of quality.

Compared to many other counties, Japan also has a lower VAT so it’s beneficial to grab some electronics during your travel in Japan.

When looking for the best Japanese souvenirs to buy in terms of electronics, this Asian nation boasts of some of the highest quality camera brands such as Nikon and Canon.

Other sound systems like Sony, Hitachi, and Panasonic are global household names.

Looking for quality and expensive souvenirs from Japan, then head to Akihabara, the electronics town.

Cool Japanese Ceramics

Beautiful ceramic cup and saucer
Ceramic Cup and Saucer

Japan is renowned for its quality ceramics. Although you’ll find them all over the country, if you want the best quality items, head to a specialist ceramics store. These cool souvenirs from Japan are not only beautiful works of Oriental art but practical items for everyday use.

Choose from all types of styles, shapes, and sizes to match your taste. Every time you look at these beautiful Japanese souvenirs, you will be transported back to the Land of the Rising Sun.

The Uniquely Japanese Cat (Neko) Goods

The classic Neko Cat
Neko Cat

Are you getting a Japanese souvenir for someone who adores cats?

Great, for you are in the right country. Our feline friends are greatly adored in Japan, something that becomes obvious by virtue of the profusion of cat-themed knick-knacks that can be picked up all over.

Plus, these inexpensive souvenirs from Japan come in lots of different materials, styles, colors, and price points.

Cat things are literally everywhere in JapanYou can buy cat bags, cat watches, shoes with cats, cat mugs, cat hats, and porcelain, and attires with cat patterns as well as Japanese trinkets adorned with cats.

And that is not the end of the list.

You can get cat socks, cat earrings, cat plates, cat wallets, cat tissue holders, and many more.

See Related: Tips to Avoid Having a Boring Vacation

The Colorful Origami Paper

Origami Paper Creations
Origami Paper Products

Still confused about what souvenirs to buy from Japan?

How about getting some high-quality origami paper adorned with beautiful Japanese patterns and colors?

Back home, these can be used for various kinds of home or office decorations. You could also try out the traditional origami folding techniques.

The high-quality and colorful prints of Japanese origami paper are highly regarded globally.

These make great souvenirs if you want something fun and authentic.

Origami paper can be found in most Japanese stationery shops, although specialty stores such as Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan stock vast varieties of origami paper.

Japanese Incense Products

Assorted Japanese Incense products
Wood Smoke Incense

Why not carry home Japanese incense as a souvenir?

It will not only relax you but also bring back memories of your priceless time in Japan. Yes, why not take the smell of Japan with you? These cool souvenirs from Japan come in an array of dazzling colors and amazing aromas.

You can buy incense sachets or sticks for just a couple of hundred Yen or several thousand Yen depending on your preference.

Toe Socks, the Inexpensive Souvenirs from Japan

Colorful toe socks
Toe Socks

Probably an odd choice for a souvenir from Japan. However, toe socks do represent a certain aspect of the youth culture in Japan pretty well. Toe socks are not only inexpensive souvenirs from Japan but also customizable.

They make perfect fun souvenir items for yourself or someone else back home.

Kendama, the Ball-and-String Toy for Kids

A Kendama ball-and-string toy
Kendama Toy

You cannot afford to forget the kids back home. The perfect souvenir to buy while visiting Japan for the young ones back home is a kendama.

This is a ball-and-string toy that is said to have come to Japan around the 1700s and is hugely popular with kids.

They are available in lots of different designs, making them good souvenirs if you like art or knick-knacks. 

With a ball attached to a wooden handle by a strong string, the essence of Kendama is to try and make the round ball sit right on the toy’s handle.

And it’s more challenging to achieve that than you might expect!

Matcha, Green Tea Flavored Snacks

Matcha infused KitKat bars
Matcha infused KitKat

In Japan, you are literally going to find matcha everything. Matcha tea, matcha food, matcha sweets, and even matcha ice cream. Matcha flavored snacks are particularly popular among visitors to Japan as they are truly unique. These snacks are filled with slightly bitter, but delicious flavors of Japanese green tea.

In Japan, expect to be astounded by the sheer numbers of matcha-infused snacks, candy, and desserts. If you want to carry home matcha-flavored Japanese souvenirs, look for chocolates, cookies, or caramels that are sold widely across Japan.

The matcha green tea Japanese KitKat is hugely popular among the locals and you can get them at most stores nationwide.

Uniquely Japanese Rice Crackers

Rice crackers in a bowl
Japanese Rice Crackers

Rice crackers make excellent and inexpensive souvenirs from Japan. They are available in dozens of varieties across the country. They are a staple Japanese snack and make a great option when you want something simple or classic to share with folks back home.

If you want a really special souvenir, go for a regional rice cracker inspired by the specific location you visit.

You could, for example, choose some Kabukiage Shiquasa Salt that’s only found in Okinawa, or pick up some Scallion Miso Senbei only found in Nagoya.

Also popular are seasonal options such as spring or fall varieties.

See Related: Best Travel Accessories

Award-Winning Japanese Whiskey

Bottles of award winning Japanese Whiskey
Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky

Japan is emerging as a producer of some of the world’s finest whiskeys after the country’s Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt scooped the 2015 World Whiskey Bible top prize.

If the Japanese can beat the Scots in making malt, then this is a souvenir worth taking home.

Two prominent brands that you may want to check out are Nikka and Suntory.

Experts recommend Nikka Yoichi Single Malt as your best value for money. Suntory is perfect if you are whisky aficionados or if you prefer a stiff drink.

See Related: Best Travel Gifts

Sake, the Traditional Alcoholic Drink

Containers with traditional Japanes Sake
Sake Wine

We cannot forget Japanese rice wine because no trip to Japan can be deemed complete without taking a few sips of sake.

This is a traditional alcoholic beverage popular across Japan made using fermented rice. Getting a bottle of Japanese sake is a great souvenir idea worth every Yen spent.

The drinkable treat will remind you of your Japanese adventures long after you are back home.

This is also the perfect drink to serve your folks back home as you narrate your travel experiences. Different regions of Japan have different kinds of rice with each area having its own local version of sake.

Bonus point: Sake serving sets also make popular souvenirs from Japan to bring home.

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