20 Best Souvenirs from Japan
Shopping guide to remember a experience of a lifetime
While traveling around Japan, between exploring bustling cities, relaxing in beautiful gardens, or soaking in hot springs, there are countless unforgettable experiences to be had. And what better way to remember your trip than with a special souvenir? Japan offers a wide range of distinctive and memorable souvenirs, from traditional crafts to modern designs. In this article, we will highlight the best souvenirs to buy from Japan that are affordable, easy to transport, and sure to bring a piece of Japanese culture and beauty back home with you.
Traditional Japanese Crafts
1. Sensu and Uchiwa Fans
Beautiful and compact, these fans serve both aesthetical and practical purposes, aiding to keep cool during the hot and humid Japanese summers. Sensu (扇子), also known as folding fans, are made of bamboo and paper or fabric and are often intricately decorated with traditional Japanese motifs. Uchiwa (団扇), or non-folding fans, are also made of bamboo with paper or silk and are often decorated with colorful designs. Both types of fans make great souvenirs from Japan and can be used as functional accessories or as decorative pieces in your home.
Furoshiki (風呂敷) is a unique and versatile traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that has been around for centuries. This eco-friendly alternative to paper or plastic bags is perfect for carrying groceries, wrapping gifts, or even as a fashionable scarf! There are many different ways to fold it neatly for a stylish look. With its beautiful designs and colors, Furoshiki can also be used as a decorative piece in your home. It’s a great souvenir that also symbolizes the Japanese concept of mottainai, or regret over wasteful things.
For more information about furoshiki, check the following article!
Daruma (だるま) dolls are cute and quirky Japanese toys that are steeped in tradition and symbolism. These little dolls, with their rounded shape and iconic blank eyes, represent perseverance and good luck. Japanese people often use Daruma dolls as a talisman to help achieve their goals or overcome obstacles by painting the left eye when making a wish, then painting the right eye once said wish is fulfilled. They make excellent souvenirs for those who are interested in Japanese spirituality and culture. Bring home a Daruma doll and let its positive energy inspire you to achieve your dreams!
Check the following article to learn more about daruma!
4. Omamori (Lucky charms)
Omamori (お守り) is a type of lucky charm popular among Japanese people. These little talismans are sold at shrines and temples throughout Japan and are believed to offer various forms of protection and good luck. No matter what kind of concern you have, there’s an omamori for that: health and safety, academic achievements, business prosperity, romantic success, you name it. These small and colorful souvenirs make great gifts for your loved ones or as a personal memento of your trip to Japan.
For more information about omamori, check the article below!
Chopsticks (お箸) are a must-have utensil in any Japanese meal. Not only are they practical and functional, but they also carry a lot of cultural significance. Japanese chopsticks are usually made of wood or bamboo and come in various designs and colors. They are not only used for eating but also as a decorative element in Japanese households. Bring home a pair of chopsticks as a souvenir and impress your friends and family with your newfound chopstick skills!
Learn more about chopsticks with our article below!
6. Japanese Pottery
Japanese pottery (焼き物) is known for its beauty, durability, and functionality. Be it traditional pottery or modern pottery with original designs, its unique charm is hard to resist. After all, it’s one of the most valued local crafts in Japan, and highly praised abroad. You can find pottery in many forms, such as tea sets, plates, bowls, and even vases. Each piece is crafted with care and attention to detail, making it a perfect souvenir to bring home and cherish for years to come.
If you want to learn more about Japanese pottery, click on the following article!
Hanko (判子), also known as inkan (印鑑), are traditional Japanese personal seals that have been used for centuries to sign documents and official papers, instead of personal signatures like in the West. Even to this day and age! These unique and personalized souvenirs are made of wood, ivory, or stone and are engraved with the owner’s name. They make a unique and meaningful souvenir that is perfect for those interested in Japanese calligraphy and culture. Get your own hanko and leave your mark on your personal documents and mementos!
If you want to learn more about hanko, check the link below!
Food and Drink Souvenirs
8. KitKat flavors unique to Japan
KitKat is a popular chocolate brand all over the world, that managed to reinvent itself in Japan to such an extent, that the country has taken this sweet treat to a whole new level with a wide array of unique flavors: traditional Japanese flavors like matcha and sakura, unusual ones like wasabi and soy sauce, seasonal specialties like pumpkin or melon, you could get a different one every day without getting enough of it! These unique flavors have turned KitKat into a very popular souvenir with endless varieties unseen anywhere else!
Find out more about Japanese KitKat in the following link!
9. Pocky flavors unique to Japan
Pocky is a beloved snack in Japan that has gained popularity around the world. This thin and crunchy biscuit stick dipped in chocolate or other flavors is a Japanese staple regardless of age across its over 5 decades of history, and just like they do with many other products, there are many unique and unusual flavors that are only available here. Azuki or matcha for the more traditionally minded, orange or coconut if you feel like having a tropical flavor, or the rainbow selection if you’re too indecisive. You cannot go wrong when carrying these fun and delicious Japanese snacks!
10. Matcha products
Matcha is a type of powdered green tea that is famous worldwide for its unique taste and health benefits. Japan is the home of matcha, and it is a must-try for anyone visiting the country. But if you thought that was the end of it, you’re in for a treat! This country’s love for matcha means you can find virtually anything you can think of. A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. You can find products for readymade matcha latte, or powder specifically made for desserts, as well as matcha ice cream or a variety of cakes. However, if just preparing your own matcha cup of tea is right up your alley, you can even bring home some matcha and a traditional Japanese tea set with a bamboo scoop and whisk to enjoy a relaxing tea time with friends and family.
For more information about Japanese green tea, follow the link below!
11. Sake and sake cups
Sake (お酒) is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage that is made from fermented rice. It has a distinct flavor and is often served in small cups called sakazuki (杯). Japan is famous for its high-quality sake, and there are many different types and brands to choose from. You can also find unique and beautifully designed sake cups that make great souvenirs. Enjoy a cup of sake and take home a piece of Japanese culture with you.
Check the following link for more information about Japanese sake!
12. Wagashi (Traditional Japanese sweets)
Wagashi (和菓子) is a traditional Japanese sweet that is made from rice flour and various ingredients such as bean paste, sugar, and fruit. These sweets come in various shapes and sizes and are often served with green tea during tea ceremonies. They are not only delicious but also beautifully presented, making them a perfect souvenir to bring home. Surprise your loved ones with a taste of Japanese culture with a box of wagashi.
13. Instant Noodles (Cup ramen)
Cup ramen (カップラーメン) is a popular snack in Japan that has become a worldwide sensation. These instant noodles come in a cup and are quick and easy to prepare. They come in various flavors, including traditional Japanese flavors like miso and shoyu. You can find unique and unusual flavors that are only available in Japan, making them a perfect souvenir for instant noodle lovers. Bring home a cup of Japan’s famous noodles and enjoy a tasty and convenient snack anytime.
Find out more about instant noodles in the following article!
Pop Culture and Modern Items
14. Anime and manga merchandise
Anime and manga are an integral part of Japanese pop culture, and there is a vast selection of merchandise available for fans. From t-shirts and keychains to plushies and figurines, to interesting brand collaborations with all sorts of items, there is no shortage of manga or anime-themed products, even for decades-old franchises. These popular merchandise products can be found anywhere and aren’t just fun souvenirs but also excellent gifts for Japanese comics and animation lovers.
Do you need some extra shopping ideas? Be sure to check out the following links!
15. Japanese Cosmetics Products
Japan is famous for its high-quality cosmetics products that are known for their effectiveness and innovative formulas that prioritize a gentle treatment of the skin. Skincare products like sheet masks and serums or makeup products like mascara and lipstick are great choices to get yourself started with the world of Japanese skincare. World-renowned brands like Shiseido, SK-II, and DHC are widely recognized, but average drugstores also have a plethora of surprisingly effective and affordable products that are a must-try for beauty enthusiasts. These products make excellent souvenirs and gifts for those who appreciate quality skincare and makeup.
Ready for a deep dive into Japanese skincare? Check out the links below!
16. Starbucks Tumblers
Starbucks is another example of a foreign brand so highly Japanized that its uniquely Japanese products have gained popularity both inside the country and abroad. Every season comes with a wide selection of Starbucks tumblers and mugs only available in Japan, with seasonal motifs like cherry blossom-themed tumblers or ones that feature Japanese landmarks like Mt. Fuji, these items are not only practical but also make great souvenirs. The designs are often limited editions, making them a must-have for collectors and Starbucks fans.
Find out more about Starbucks tumblers at the following link!
17. 100 Yen Shops and 3 Coins Shops
100 yen stores like Daiso and 3 Coins stores (because most items cost 300 yen) are extremely popular in Japan both among locals and tourists and for good reason! They offer a wide range of well-designed items at an unbelievably affordable price. You can find everything from kitchenware and stationery to beauty products and souvenirs. These stores are a treasure trove of unique and useful items that make great souvenirs or gifts. You can find items that are only available in Japan, making them the perfect souvenir without breaking the bank.
For more information about Daiso and 3 Coin stores, check the following articles!
Yukata (浴衣) and Kimono (着物) are traditional Japanese garments that have become popular souvenirs for tourists. Yukata is a lightweight, casual garment, often worn during summer festivals, while Kimono is a more formal attire worn on special occasions. You can find a range of designs and styles, from traditional to modern, and they come in various price ranges, with yukata being generally much more affordable than kimono. A yukata or kimono is not only a great sample of Japanese traditional culture but also allows you to dress up and experience Japanese fashion firsthand.
If you want to learn more about yukata, follow the link!
19. Affordable Clothes (Uniqlo, GU, Muji)
Japan is home to several fashion retailers that offer stylish and affordable clothing. Uniqlo, GU, and Muji are three popular brands that offer a range of clothing options for men, women, and children. These stores are known for their high-quality, minimalist designs that are perfect for everyday wear. The prices are reasonable, and the quality is excellent, making them a great place to shop for basics and essentials.
For more information about these shops, check the following links!
20. Japanese Tabi Socks
Japanese socks, or tabi socks (足袋), are unique because they have a split toe that allows for wearing with traditional Japanese footwear like zori or geta sandals. Although traditional tabi tends to be white, nowadays they come in a range of eye-catching designs, vibrant colors, and materials. Designs can be anything from traditional patterns, to fun themes or even regionally-themed. These can be easily found in most souvenir shops everywhere in Japan, as it can be both a quirky fashion piece and a great souvenir!
Besides all that’s mentioned above, each region has its own special items you should not miss!
Souvenirs from Tokyo
Tokyo is a bustling metropolis that offers a vast selection of unique souvenirs. One of the most popular exclusive souvenirs from the city is Tokyo Banana, a small banana-shaped cake filled with custard cream, which can be found occasionally in other flavors depending on the season. The aforementioned KitKat also has a Tokyo-specific flavor, which is rum raisin, although sometimes there’s also KitKat with Tokyo Banana Flavor for a nice sweet crossover! Another popular souvenir from Tokyo is Ningyo-yaki (人形焼き), small baked confectioneries filled with sweet red bean paste, shaped like characters or local landmarks, and one of the most distinct traditional souvenirs from Asakusa. For some last-minute airport shopping, Haneda Airport has a collaboration shop with the Tokyo National Museum, featuring varied items or candy boxes with gorgeous iconic Japanese artworks, elevating sweets with a refined artistic taste!
For some more ideas about souvenir shopping around Tokyo, check out the following links!
Souvenirs from Kyoto
Kyoto is a city rich in history and culture, and its souvenirs reflect that. One must-buy item is Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋), a traditional sweet made of glutinous rice flour and sweet bean paste, easily found in most souvenir shops because of its popularity. Another Kyoto timeless favorite is the oil-blotting sheets called Abura torigami (あぶら取り紙) from the long-standing Kyoto-based cosmetics company Yojiya. And if you’d prefer something that will last longer, you could get some nice pieces of Kyo-yaki (京焼) or Kyoto-style pottery, designated as a national traditional craft, celebrated for their small and delicately beautiful pieces.
For some extra ideas about souvenir shopping in Kyoto, check the following link!
Souvenirs from Osaka
Since Osaka is known for its vibrant street food culture, chances are you have already tried and loved the popular takoyaki (grilled octopus balls). Alas, takoyaki is not meant to last long trips so it’s a shame you can’t take these delicious goodies with you. Rejoice! You may not be able to take the real deal with you but there are some snacks that will mimic the flavor to fill the void! For example, the Jagarico (salty fried snacks inspired by french fries) and Pretz (baked biscuit sticks) both have Osaka-exclusive takoyaki flavors! Another regional favorite is the Bâton d’or, a luxurious version of the aforementioned Pocky with selected ingredients
What else could you buy when visiting Osaka? Find out on the links below!
Souvenirs from Mt. Fuji
Undoubtedly the most iconic sight all over Japan, it is to be expected that there’s no shortage of souvenirs celebrating Mt. Fuji. First of all, if you’re feeling adventurous and decide to hike Mt. Fuji, one of the best reminders of your achievement is your own Kongou-zue (金剛杖), a wooden walking stick with souvenir stamps you can collect along the different trails. You can buy it in shops at the beginning of your climb. Of course, if you don’t feel like breaking a sweat for a nice Mt. Fuji memento, there are plenty of options too. For instance, of course, there had to be a Fuji-themed KitKat box, with a delicious cheesecake flavor! There’s also a variety of shops, both at the base of Mt. Fuji and the surrounding areas that sell Mt Fuji-themed confectioneries, cute sweets like cookies, cakes or jellies featuring our iconic mountain!
More Mt. Fuji souvenir ideas are in the link below!
Souvenirs from Hokkaido
Japan’s northernmost island is known for its natural beauty and its dairy products, particularly a wide range of cheeses or ice creams priding themselves in using Hokkaido milk, Naturally, cheesecakes are one of the most popular products you can find in souvenir shops. Another classic souvenir from the region is the Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人), a buttery white chocolate sandwich cookie that is made in Hokkaido. For cultural legacy items, you could check Ainu traditional crafts, such as fine wood-carved pieces. The best area is around the Akanko Onsen, where there’s an Ainu arts and crafts village.
For some more ideas about shopping in Hokkaido, check out the following link!
Souvenirs from Hiroshima
If you go to Hiroshima, you cannot miss trying their delicious Momiji Manju (もみじ饅頭), a sweet pastry filled with sweet bean paste shaped like a maple leaf, the symbol of Hiroshima. In addition to that, local oysters are quite a famous product, so canned or processed oysters are quite a popular choice as well. Shamoji (しゃもじ) or rice scoop paddles are also a famous traditional craft from Miyajima Island, so this is also a classical souvenir in the area.
For more shopping ideas around Hiroshima, check out the following article!
Souvenirs from Okinawa
Okinawa is a tropical paradise with a unique culture that offers a variety of souvenirs that reflect its vibrancy and natural beauty. Traditional Okinawan lion statues called Shisa (シーサー) are believed to protect homes from evil spirits, while Ryukyu glassware (琉球ガラス) features colorful designs inspired by the sea and nature of Okinawa. And one of the most delicious and popular souvenirs is the Beniimo Tarts (紅芋タルト), a pastry made with purple sweet potatoes and one of the local specialties of the island.
Check the following links for more ideas for souvenirs in Okinawa!
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