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What To Buy In Japan: 21 Best Souvenirs To Take Home

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A trip to Japan would almost be incomplete without some authentic Japanese souvenirs to bring home for yourself, your family, and your friends. So, if you’re wondering what to buy in Japan, get your wallet ready. Japanese culture has perfected the art form of omiyage, which roughly translates to ‘souvenir.’

This term refers to the gifts you present to friends and family back home, and it follows that these gifts are a way to show gratitude and goodwill. So, your average keychain, fridge magnet, or ‘I love Japan’ sticker won’t quite cut it.

Because of the strong value of omiyage and the value of substance in the gifts you take home, you’ll find many great gifts and souvenirs from Japan. Each one reflects the diversity of this country to suit a range of budgets and tastes.

Of course, you can still take advantage of the omiyage culture to find great Japanese souvenirs to serve as personal mementos from your time away! From small budget-friendly trinkets like Daruma dolls to potentially expensive and elaborate options like luxury kimonos, deciding on your favorite Japanese souvenirs to take home might be overwhelming.

If you’re looking to book your trip to Japan and want to know what to watch for when it comes to great Japanese souvenirs, we’ve got you covered. To help you better understand your options and choose what you should buy while in Japan, we’ve compiled the following recommendations on the best souvenirs from Japan.

Best Souvenirs From Japan to Bring Home

Best Japanese Souvenirs including daruma dolls, origami paper, and matcha tea sets

1. Daruma Dolls

3 Daruma Dolls

Daruma doll is one of the most popular Japanese souvenirs to take homeThe unmistakable eyeless figurines are very common, especially around the major tourist spots. Daruma ranks among the best souvenirs from Japan and is available in all sorts of colors and sizes, including pocket-size figurines.

Daruma is a paper-mâché doll popular among the Japanese as a good luck charm. Upon getting a Daruma doll, you color in one of the eyes and make a wish of something you want to come true or work towards. Once that wish comes true, or you achieve your goals, you color in the other eye.

Traditionally, they are sold at Buddhist shrines in early January as you make your wish for the new year. But don’t fret if visiting any other time of year; you can still get these Japanese souvenirs year-round at leading shops nationwide.

2. Omamori

Hand holding a Traditional Omamori
enchanted_fairy / Adobe Stock

For a traditional, spiritual, yet meaningful Japanese souvenir, look for a Shinto shrine and get an omamori. While they come in many sizes, it’s easy to find conveniently pocket-sized versions to fit in your suitcase for the journey home. 

Omamori are good luck charms believed to offer various forms of protection, and there are many to choose from. Whether you want good luck in your career, academic growth, or general good health and safety, there’s an omamori for you and so much more.

The range of purpose of omamori makes them a perfect gift to take home. There will surely be an omamori suitable for all your friends and family back home.

See Related: An Expert Traveler’s Complete International Travel Checklist

3. Sensu

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 souvenir to buy while visiting Japan. Their ability to fold up neatly is extremely handy to make them easy to squish into your suitcase.

From those made from inexpensive paper to the more intricate, handmade options made of wood and fabric, you are sure to find a sensu fan that suits any recipient. Moreover, they come in numerous designs to suit any taste and go well with a sturdy stand for display in the colder months.

If you want something more personal, consider booking into a fan folding experience and creating your version of this popular Japanese item. Take the time for an authentic Japanese experience and learn a little Kanji to decorate your personalized folding fan.

See Related: Best Gifts For International Travelers

4. Kimono

3 Japanese women adorned in classy kimonos
Japanese Kimonos

While there are many opportunities in Japan to rent and try on the traditional Kimiono, why not take one home with you after your trip?

There is a kimono in Japan to suit every budget. If you’re trying to find a good bargain, there are many brilliant thrift stores in Japan, some specializing in kimonos.

You’re looking to pay as low as 500 Japanese Yen for good quality second-hand kimonos. Otherwise, you could pay the big bucks and spend thousands on hand-crafted pieces.

It’s very easy to find a store that will sell you a good quality kimono in Japan for both men’s and women’s kimonos. The designs on kimonos are unique and vary in style and color, making them an excellent addition to your wardrobe to snazz up any outfit.

5. Yukata Paired with Geta/Zori Sandals

Japanese woman in a cool Yukata
Yukata Kmono

yukata is an informal type of Japanese summer clothing. They are quite similar to the kimono, but with two major differences:

  • Yakuta’s are much simpler to put on than a Kimono.
  • Kimonos are more formal than Yukutas; Yukutas are a more casual kimono alternative for everyday wear, while the traditional kimono is more likely to be worn at formal events.
  • Kimonos are generally made from silk, whereas Yakuta’s are much more lightweight and generally made from cotton or linen to suit the stifling Japanese summers.

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, consider getting geta or zori, the traditional Japanese sandals.

See Related: Best Travel Sandals for Beach Destinations

6. Chopsticks and their Holders

Wodden Chopsticks with Holders
gossip7 / Adobe Stock

When looking for classic Japanese souvenirs, a pair of chopsticks is usually among the first things a visitor to Japan considers.

You’ll be spoilt for choice regarding design options, colors, and patterns. You can even have your name engraved on your chopsticks if you wish. If you love cooking Asian cuisine back home, getting some chopsticks is a great idea!

Consider going one step further and try making your own chopsticks for the ultimate souvenir. In many places scattered throughout Japan, you can find chopstick-making workshops where you can make them from scratch.

Just be mindful of Japanese eating etiquette, and consider investing in quality chopstick holders. Chopstick holders are handy because they help prevent the chopsticks from touching the table between mouthfuls, promoting better dining hygiene.

See Related: Best Sites for Booking Tours & Excursions

7. World-famous Japanese Electronics

Video game console of Nintendo NES Classic Edition
EWY Media / Adobe Stock

Head to Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronic town, for some high-quality electronics ranging from retro goods to futuristic innovation.

The world-famous Super Potato is one of the best places in Akihabara to find retro gaming electronics. At Super Potato, you’ll find pretty much any console from the old to the new. You can fall into gaming nostalgia and take a step back in time to purchase a Nintendo Famicom complete with working original games.

Of course, Japan is also a great place to purchase high-quality electronics from bands like Nikon, Canon, and Sony. What’s more, you can enjoy a lower VAT rate when purchasing these items in Japan!

See Related: Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

8. Neko Doll/Figurine

The classic Neko Cat

Are you getting a Japanese souvenir for someone who adores cats? Great, you are in the right country. Our feline friends are greatly adored in Japan, which becomes obvious by the profusion of cat-themed knick-knacks that can be picked up from all over.

A Maneki Neko doll is the number one authentic gift for anyone back home who adores cats. These ‘lucky cats’ come in various sizes, from the tiny pocket-friendly options to the too big to fit in your suitcase.

These welcoming cats are often considered lucky charms that bring good luck and fortune to their owners. Because of this, they are very common throughout Japan. The classic cat is white to symbolize good luck, but you can get varying colors if you prefer.

9. Colorful Origami Paper

Origami Paper Creations

Still confused about what souvenirs to buy from Japan? How about getting high-quality origami paper adorned with beautiful Japanese patterns and colors? This traditional Japanese art form is a wonderful way to enjoy a little snippet of traditional Japanese culture as a creative outlet.

Back home, these can be used for various home or office decorations. You could also try out 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 wide varieties of origami paper.

10. Japanese Incense Products

Japanese Incense on a marble tbale

Why not carry home Japanese incense as a souvenir? If you miss Japan after you get home, the aroma from lighting an incense stick can take you back, if not just for a moment.

From the super simple to the intricately decorated, you’ll find a dazzling number of options when looking for intense sticks and their holders in Japan. What’s more, you might have to buy a couple, as the scents available are vast and delightful.

You can buy incense sachets or sticks for just a couple of hundred Yen. It might be nice to splurge though, and buy some fancy sticks and holders for several thousand Yen, depending on your preference.

11. Socks

Kimono Socks
Kristina Blokhin / Adobe Stock

You might be thinking of this suggestion as an odd choice for a souvenir from Japan. However, socks from Japan can make brilliant souvenirs.

Toe socks represent a certain aspect of the youth culture in Japan pretty well. They are not only inexpensive souvenirs from Japan but also customizable. They make perfect fun souvenir items for yourself or someone else back home.

Otherwise, you could get the traditional tabi socks you see sported in the above image. These socks are unique because of the split toe design that’s actually great for wearing Japanese geta or zori sandals.

12. Kendama

A Kendama ball-and-string toy

The perfect souvenir to buy while visiting Japan for the young ones back home is a kendama. This ball-and-string toy is said to have come to Japan around the 18th Century and is hugely popular with kids even today.

They are available in many 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.

It might look simple, but it’s more challenging to achieve that than you might expect! With that in mind, the age of recipients that would enjoy such a gift is seemingly boundless.

See Related: Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Kids

13. Japanese Ceramics

Beautiful 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 styles, shapes, and sizes to match your taste. Alternatively, craft your own beautiful ceramics and learn Japanese pottery techniques and styles while crafting a unique memento you won’t find in any of the souvenir shops! Every time you look at these beautiful Japanese souvenirs, you will be transported back to the Land of the Rising Sun.

See Related: Best Japan Travel Hacks

14. Matcha Tea and Tea Sets

Matcha Tea Set
kaiskynet / Adobe Stock

I’m a big fan of matcha tea, and you bet you’ll find many amazing brands in Japan to get some of the highest quality tea of its kind. Moreover, Japan is also a great place to find some brilliant matcha accessories, like matcha sets with aesthetic bowls and whisks.

There are many authentic tea ceremonies available for tourists to experience throughout Japan. So, when you visit Japan, it would be worth attending a ceremony to learn how to make this earthy brew correctly so you can enjoy it back home.

Once you’ve got the simple process of preparing matcha down, scour the souvenir and department stores for some powdered matcha and tea sets to take home. The core elements of your tea set should include a small matcha bowl, whisk, and matcha powder scoop. Additional items could include a ceramic whisk holder, matcha strainer, or scoop holder.

15. Matcha Flavored Snacks

KitKat Matcha Flavor
ALF photo / Adobe Stock

In Japan, you will find matcha everything: matcha tea, matcha food, matcha sweets, matcha candy floss, and even matcha ice cream. Matcha-flavored snacks are trendy 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 number of matcha-infused snacks, candy, and desserts. You could go traditional with a matcha bowl, whisk, and powder to take home, but there’s so much fun to be had in finding the more unique offerings available.

The matcha green tea Japanese Kit Kats are hugely popular among the locals, and you can get them at most stores nationwide.

16. Japanese Rice Crackers

Rice crackers in a bowl

In Japan, souvenirs come in all shapes and sizes, budgets, and tastes, and Japanese rice crackers make excellent and inexpensive souvenirs. They’re simple and cheap but a great little treat to take home.

These crunchy snacks are available in dozens of varieties across the country. Rice crackers are a stable snack in Japan and make a great option for 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, 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.

17. Award-Winning Japanese Whiskey

Bottles of award winning Japanese Whiskey

Japan emerged 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, this is a souvenir worth taking home. You may want to check out two prominent Japanese brands: Nikka and Suntory. Experts recommend Nikka Yoichi Single Malt as your best value for money. Suntory is perfect if you are a whisky fan or prefer a stiff drink.

Otherwise, consider a whiskey-tasting tour in Japan to find your favorite brand to take home with you.

See Related: Visiting Scotland’s Iconic Eilean Donan Castle

18. Sake, the Traditional Alcoholic Drink

Containers with traditional Japanes Sake

We cannot forget Japanese rice wine because no trip to Japan can be complete without 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.

trip to a sake brewery while in Japan is a great shout for a memorable experience of trying the country’s traditional beverage. Learn great food pairing ideas to know what you can pair your own sake with when you return home.

The drinkable treat will remind you of fond memories of your Japanese adventures long after returning 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, each with its local version of sake.

See Related: The Best Travel Gifts: Ideas They’ll Love

19. Japanese Stationery

Japanese Stationery Washi Tapes
JCM / Adobe Stock

Japan is a gold mine for unique and quirky, high-quality stationery. You’ll find that even the most minor details are considered in the design of stationary across the board: pens, notebooks, accessories, washi tape, you name it, you’re going to want to make room in your suitcase for it.

Pop to shops like Itoya or Tokyu Hands to see what’s available. But if you want a real bargain, head to Don Quijote to get more for your Yen.

For high-quality brands, you can’t go wrong looking out for Kokuyo or Tsubame. Whatever brand you choose, finding something to suit any taste is easy. Japan Stationery can provide the goods for all, from the office worker in the corporate world to the uni student needing study supplies.

See Related: Top Reasons to Visit Japan: Why You Need to See Japan

20. Traditional Japanese Sweets

Different Flavored Mochi
chandlervid85 / Adobe Stock

Inexpensive, tasty, and varied in options, traditional Japanese sweets are an excellent option for some wonderful souvenirs to take home with you. You can find these in most souvenir shops, but you’ll also easily find a variety in your local convenience store in Japan.

Japanese mochi is a top choice of traditional Japanese sweets to stock up on in Japan. Mochi is made using mochigome (Japanese glutinous rice), which has been popular in Japan for hundreds of years.

Or maybe you would prefer some Rakugan. These are very artfully wagashi pressed into traditional molds to create a variety of shapes, sizes, and aesthetics.

Rakugan is generally eaten alongside a nice tea. For that authentic Japanese indulgence back home, grab some Rakugan and Japanese powdered green tea to relive your travels long after you leave Japan.

21. Japanese Beauty Products

Stand with Japanese Beauty Products for Sale
JCM / Adobe Stock

Japanese beauty products are in a league of their own, and high-quality options can come at very affordable prices.

Don Quijote and Daiso will probably be the best go-to options for good-quality Japanese brands at the most budget-friendly prices. Otherwise, consider stepping into one of Japan’s many department stores to see what’s available for the more high-end options. Of course, many specialty stores in Japan, like Muji and Tokyu Hands, will also provide the goods.

Brands worth looking out for in Japan include MiMC, Ruhaku, Shiro, and Three Cosmetics. They’re all popular Japanese cosmetics brands and are cruelty-free!

FAQs

What are the most popular souvenirs to buy in Japan?

One of the most popular souvenirs to buy in Japan would be the unique Daruma doll. Inexpensive and easy to fit into your suitcase, Daruma dolls are great quirky souvenirs to take home a piece of traditional Japanese culture. Or, gift the Daruma doll’s spiritual and positive significance to a friend back home for good luck and fortune.

Other popular souvenirs in Japan would be the equally inexpensive and suitcase-friendly omamori lucky charms. Find these in shrines and temples across Japan, and they cover ranging worries like health, career goals, and academic triumph. Buy an omamori to encourage good luck around the issues you care about most.

Neko dolls are also very popular as gifts for loved ones back home as a wish for good fortune and prosperity. These come in tiny hand-held models to larger-than-life models, so it’s another easy souvenir to fit in any suitcase for the journey home.

Where can I find the best Japanese souvenirs in Tokyo or Kyoto?

One of the best places to buy the best souvenirs from Japan at a budget-friendly price is Don Quijote. This is a popular store in Japan that sells a little bit of everything, and you’re bound to find some great little bargains to take home when you’re out souvenir shopping.

In Japan, souvenirs can also be found at another great option, Daiso, which offers a variety at reasonable prices. Again, this store sells a little bit of everything and can cater to various tastes.

If you want something more authentic, look out for trinkets sold at temples and shrines. Otherwise, the Higashiyama District in Kyoto is a good shout, or near Asakusa in Tokyo, you’ll find many suitable souvenir shops.

What are some affordable souvenir options in Japan?

Sometimes the best souvenirs are the ones that don’t cost all that much money at all! Many of the most popular gifts and best Japanese souvenirs to return from Japan are Daruma Dolls and Omamori charms.

But you’ll find many great and affordable Japanese snacks in stores like Don Quijote to take a little bit of Japan back to share with those at home. Similarly, while some kimonos can sometimes cost an arm and a leg, shopping at thrift stores can score you a bargain.

However, if anything happens to your suitcase on your return home, you’ll want to be fully insured. While losing your mementos en route home would be awful, at least having the right travel insurance could help lessen the bow financially. Sites like TravelInsurance.com are a good place for a gander to ensure your souvenirs are covered should anything go wrong en route home.

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