When you go souvenir shopping in Japan, the possibilities are endless—and sometimes overwhelming. Gift shops in tourist areas sell everything from traditional Japanese-style folk art to umbrellas that look like samurai swords. How will you narrow down the best things to get in Japan that your family and friends will love?
Sure, you could pick up a few keychains and t-shirts, but not if you want to bring home unique souvenirs you can’t find anywhere else. If you’re looking for interesting things to buy in Japan, but don’t want to spend hours browsing, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got answers to all your questions about traveling to Japan!
In Japanese culture, the best souvenirs are educational, practical, and fun at the same time. An authentic Japanese-style Nippon Omiyage might come in the form of beauty products, snacks, household items, or even something mystical. Below are our recommended Japanese souvenirs and gift ideas for when you travel to Japan.
Before you overstuff your bags with everything you see, simplify your list with classic souvenirs from Japan that embody the culture. You can find these almost anywhere in the country, and their compact sizes are easy to pack.
It’s no secret that Japanese people love cats, and the Maneki Neko is the most adored of them all. You might see figurines with their left paws up at restaurants to welcome customers. The ones with their right arms stretched are said to bring in fortune and luck.
You’ll get a lot of practice using chopsticks during your travels, so why not show off your skills back home? The lacquered tableware is a cool souvenir and a useful utensil for your kitchen. You can find chopsticks with traditional designs, pop culture characters, and more!
Nothing says summer like the tinkling melodies of a furin wind chime. You can personalize the paper that hangs from the clapper with a wish or haiku, making this one of the best gifts from Japan for someone special. You can find wind chimes at shops near temples, shrines, and Tokyu Hands.
With UNESCO recognition and some of the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, Japanese food is among the most sought-after cuisines. You can share the culinary fun of your vacation in Japan with your loved ones by bringing back these sweets and treats.
The number one Japanese gift that’ll delight everyone are—no kidding—Kit Kats. The factories in Japan release several flavors like white chocolate, wasabi, green tea, and more. Depending on the season, you can also find limited edition varieties.
Regional Gifts (Omiyage) in Japan
Among all the Japanese items you can buy during your travels, keep an eye out for the regional specialties in the towns you visit. Every prefecture in Japan sells omiyage boxes that contain bite-sized food souvenirs like cookies and rice crackers that feature local fare. Some famous ones are Tokyo banana pastries, chocolate-covered potato chips from Hokkaido, and castella cakes with red bean paste from Hiroshima.
Fake Plastic Food
What could be a cuter Japanese souvenir than a clock with pieces of sushi instead of numbers? Maybe a keychain with a bowl of ramen, or a rice ball that doubles as a magnet? At food sample shops, you’ll find endless rows of plastic treats to memorialize your favorite dishes.
Even the most inexpensive things to buy in Japan can come exceptionally well-made. Frugal travelers are always delighted and surprised to find high-quality gifts and memorandum at more-than-fair prices.
Anything from the 100-Yen Shop
Don’t let the name fool you—this isn’t your local dollar store. The 100-yen shops in Japan sell everyday items like bento boxes, novelty toys, and long-lasting slippers. The bigger the shop, the more likely you are to find traditional Japanese souvenirs like hair accessories, folding fans, and even teacups.
At shrines and temples, you can purchase omamori amulets and talismans, which are silk pouches with prayers sewn inside. These Buddhist and Shinto lucky charms serve specific purposes such as curing long illnesses, boosting financial success, and blessing a couple with happiness. They generally cost between 300 - 1500 yen (around US $2.70 - $14.00), and can easily fit in your pocket.
If you come to Japan while it’s warm, you’ll notice a lot of people using tenugi hand towels for just about every occasion. Though you could call them “cheap souvenirs,” they’re honestly some of the best things to buy Japan! You can use your tenugi to wipe away sweat, wrap something fragile, tye back hair, or even hang and admire its print.
Shopaholics love Tokyo for its endless department stores, shopping districts, and luxury brands, but if you aren’t interested in this, check out Tokyo’s gift shops. With regional antennae stores selling fare from Hokkaido, Okinawa, and everywhere in-between, if you can buy it in Japan, you can buy it in Tokyo!
Knives from the Kitchen District
One thing Japan is famous for is its hand-forged kitchen knives. The Kappabashi district's artisans create their wares with a skillful fastidiousness that guarantees one blade will last several lifetimes. Professional chefs might spend thousands on one knife, but home cooks can find reasonably-priced items, too.
Socks from Harajuku
If you’re looking for cute things from Japan, there’s no other place like Harajuku. This neighborhood represents the epitome of Kawaii Culture, and the shops that line Takeshita Street are bursting with Tokyo souvenirs. One of the most popular items to buy in this area are socks that feature adorable characters and charming designs.
Traditional Crafts in Asakusa
The streets around and leading up to Sensoji Temple sell the best souvenirs from Japan. Browsing the stalls on the temple’s grounds, you’ll find Japanese tea, cosmetic face masks, children’s toys, and all things touristy. If you’re looking for things to buy in Tokyo with a sophisticated air, check out the shops in the rest of the neighborhood that sell traditional crafts and local art.