Visiting Japan can be an overwhelming yet extremely rewarding experience. Japan offers a treasure trove of unique attractions, from ancient temples to high-tech innovations. However, one thing every tourist should take advantage of is shopping for souvenirs. Within this article, you will find an extensive compilation of the finest souvenirs from Japan, carefully curated to embody the very essence of Japanese culture.
Best Souvenirs and Items to Buy in Japan
A trip to Japan would only be complete with some good souvenirs. The art of souvenir shopping in Japan is deeply embedded in the culture. These tiny treasures are more than just keepsakes; they represent Japanese heritage that adds depth to one’s travel experience.
Store in every part of Japan offers something unique, making it possible for tourists to choose from diverse items that embody Japan’s tradition, artistry, and innovation. With so many things to buy in Japan, finding the perfect souvenir can feel like looking for a needle in an enigmatic, beautiful haystack.
Sake is the iconic rice wine of Japan and makes for a wonderful souvenir. Thousands of different brands and varieties are usually categorized by how much the rice is polished before brewing. Premium daiginjo sake with highly polished rice offers a delicate, floral taste. Richer styles like junmai can have earthy, umami flavors and aromas.
Specialty-flavored sake like plum or yuzu are also popular gifts. Select a bottle in your price range or a mixed sampler gift set. Many shops provide wooden boxes and packaging to transport sake home safely.
Sake, a beloved and revered alcoholic beverage, derives its essence from the meticulous fermentation of rice. As Japan’s national beverage, it makes an excellent gift or souvenir – especially if you choose a high-quality variant produced by smaller artisan breweries.
Matcha Green Tea
Matcha is high-quality powdered green tea used in tea ceremonies and cooking. Boasting numerous health benefits and a signature vivid green color, matcha makes a perfect souvenir from Japan. It comes in grades ranging from culinary to ceremonial. Look for organic premium brands like Ippodo, Marukyu Koyamaen, or Maeda-en. Matcha can be bought as a powder tin, in tea bags, blended drinks, candies, or other food items. It retains freshness well for months.
As one of the most popular souvenirs to take home from Japan, matcha green tea isn’t merely a beverage but has deep cultural significance tied to Zen Buddhism. It’s used in traditional tea ceremonies, representing harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.
Chopsticks make for simple, affordable souvenirs. Decorative wooden or lacquered sets stamped with Japanese motifs like sakura flowers make nice gifts. Opt for better quality wood like birch or bamboo rather than cheap disposable types.
Many chopstick sets come presented in ornate paper packaging or protective sleeves, adding to the charm. Popular places to buy chopsticks are 100 yen shops, stationery stores, and souvenir shops.
Yukata Kimono Robe
Yukata are lightweight, casual cotton kimono worn in summer. They make great gifts and comfortable at-home pajamas or robes. Look for vibrant-colored yukata with traditional prints like florals and motifs.
Many Ryokan inns provide yukata, so consider purchasing one from your hotel as a souvenir. For guests who didn’t stay in a ryokan, shops in Kyoto and summer festivals sell yukata. Foldable sets with matching obi sashes make for convenient suitcase packing.
Kit Kat Chocolates
Japan produces many exclusive Kit Kat flavors like matcha, sake, roasted tea, strawberry cheesecake, and seasonal varieties. They come in colorful packaging decorated with Japanese scenery.
Specialty Kit Kats are sold at airports, train stations, and gift shops around the country. Keep an eye out for limited editions and regional flavors. These chocolate wafers make great edible gifts to share.
Maneki Neko Figurines
Maneki neko, meaning “beckoning cat,” are common Japanese figurines thought to bring good luck and fortune. These ceramic or plastic cat statues have one paw raised as if waving and come in many sizes and designs.
The figurines are often displayed in storefronts, restaurants, and homes in Japan. Gold-colored maneki neko symbolize wealth and prosperity. Look for hand-painted and ceramic maneki neko made by artisans, which cost more but make higher quality souvenirs. Keychain versions or small neko statues also make affordable and popular gifts. Taking home your own maneki neko is said to spread happiness and good fortune wherever it is placed.
Japan produces many unique candies like Pocky, Hello Panda chocolate biscuits, strawberry-flavored Kit Kats, and matcha-infused treats. Tokyo Banana pastries stuffed with custard also make iconic edible gifts.
Check out the regional specialties like Sakura mochi from Kyoto. You can find candy at any convenience store or supermarket. Candy is nicely lightweight for packing.
Daruma Wishing Dolls
Daruma dolls represent perseverance and achieving goals in Japanese culture. Their round shape is modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen. People color in one eye once a goal is set then the other upon fulfilling it.
Daruma dolls with both eyes left blank make unique souvenirs. The dolls are sold at temples and shrines, symbolizing luck. Their red color also wards off evil spirits.
Japanese Hand Fans
Beautifully crafted Japanese hand fans make wonderful traditional souvenirs. The uchiwa fan features paper stretched across a wooden frame showcasing colorful Japanese imagery and kanji characters. Temari handballs used to make uchiwa fans also make affordable keepsakes. Sensu folding fans have painted silk or paper leaves with floral motifs or landscape scenes.
High-end hand fans can be works of art with delicate bamboo supports and intricately decorated leaves. Fans vary greatly in price, from 500 yen for basic paper fans to over 10,000 yen for fine, hand-painted silk fans. Vendors in places like Kyoto and Nara sell many types. Lightweight and easy to pack, paper and silk Japanese fans allow you to take home a timeless accessory that provides a cooling breeze long after your trip ends
High-quality Japanese incense is crafted from agarwood and spices. The aromatic smoke is said to have calming effects. Popular kinds are senko stick incense, coil incense, or aloeswood chips.
Pick an ornamental incense gift set arranged in a lacquered box or ceramic tray. Check the ingredients for agarwood to find the best quality options. Incense shops and temples sell a wide variety.
Japanese anime (animation) and manga (comics) are loved worldwide. Head to Tokyo’s Akihabara district or shops like Animate to find merchandise featuring popular characters like Pokemon, Studio Ghibli, and more. Plush toys, collectible figurines, clothes, accessories, and items themed after specific series make unique otaku gifts. Specialty stores have exclusive goods you won’t find outside Japan.
Items of lacquerware, or urushi, often depict Japanese scenery in black, gold, or red finish. Tableware like bento lunchboxes, soup bowls, plates, trays, and chopstick rests are common gifts. Other lacquerware items include jewelry boxes, vases, accessories, furniture, and more. Quality lacquerware can be pricey due to the extensive crafting process.
Japan has several historic pottery styles like Mashiko, Arita, and Bizen ware. Unique pots, vases, bowls, teacups, and sake sets make nice gifts. Look for pieces crafted by traditional workshops or independent ceramic artists. Japanese ceramics utilize elegant, simple designs, earthy hues, and natural glazes. Items can range from inexpensive to luxury.
Japan produces sleek, innovative stationery perfect for students or professionals. Stock up on items like washi paper, origami sets, notebooks, pens, and markers imprinted with Japanese themes. Kid-friendly stationery depicts popular characters. Well-designed calendars, planners, and journals make great gifts. Muji and Loft shops have the best selection.
Japan produces incredibly well-designed and innovative stationery perfect for students, artists, or professionals. Unique Japanese stationery makes for useful souvenirs or gifts.
Look for stationery featuring cute Japanese characters and motifs, traditional washi paper, origami kits, calligraphy sets, and pens or markers with manga art. MUJI sells minimalist notebooks, pens, and organizers. The Loft has a huge stationery selection with Japan-themed items. Kid-friendly kits teach origami skills back home. For crafters, washi tape and decorative paper sheets let you make your own cards and art. High-quality planners, journals, and brushes also make great finds. Japanese stationery combines aesthetics, functionality, and creativity.
Okinawa Shisa Figures
In Okinawa, shisha guardian lion statues ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. The decorative figurines feature dogs or lions with flowing manes. Typically displayed in pairs, the open and closed-mouth shisha statues work together to repel and keep out bad fortune. Look for ceramic or resin figures painted vivid red or with a gold tint.
Kokeshi Wooden Dolls
Kokeshi are traditional wooden cylinders with simple painted faces. Originating in northern Japan as toys, the dolls have signature regional styles. Miira style has colorful floral designs, while Naruko kokeshi has yellow bodies. Look for sets of the 11 main types or get individual dolls as souvenirs. Good quality kokeshi are crafted from Mizuki wood.
Japanese Chef Knives
High-end Japanese chef’s knives make prized souvenirs for cooks and foodies. Knives like santoku, petty, and gyuto are precision forged, hammered, and sharpened by specialists in Japan. Brands like Miyabi and Shun offer Western-style blades, while traditional brands like Masamoto use techniques centuries-old. Custom knives offer a wide price range, spanning from affordable options under $100 to high-end masterpieces exceeding $500.
Akoya Pearl Jewelry
Japan has earned international acclaim for its unrivaled production of the highest quality Akoya pearls, with a particular emphasis on the coastal regions near Hiroshima. Beautiful jewelry made with these lustrous cultured pearls makes an elegant and quintessential souvenir.
Akoya pearls come in colors ranging from pure white to soft pink or gold hues. Mikimoto is the premier luxury pearl brand, but you can also find affordable jewelry sets at department stores. Look for pearl earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets to commemorate your trip. Akoya pearls remain a timeless symbol of traditional Japanese beauty and craftsmanship.
Kimono fabric stands as one of the most exquisite and cherished souvenirs to acquire in Japan, representing the country’s rich textile heritage and traditional craftsmanship. Whether you choose to display it as a decorative piece, repurpose it into clothing or accessories, or simply admire its beauty, owning a piece of kimono fabric allows you to embrace the elegance and grace that this iconic garment embodies.
Each kimono fabric tells a unique story, with designs inspired by nature, folklore, and historical motifs. The meticulous attention to detail and the skillful weaving techniques employed by artisans ensure that each piece is a work of art.
Whether as a gift for yourself or a loved one, the allure of kimono fabric as a souvenir lies in its ability to encapsulate the essence of Japan’s artistic heritage and evoke a sense of beauty and elegance that transcends time.
Vintage Japanese Textiles
Specialty stores sell antique Japanese textiles like indigo-dyed cotton, rough hemp, and sashiko embroidery. Blocs of Boro patchwork cloth make one-of-a-kind gifts. Check out the fabric department at large flea markets to discover old kimono and yukata robes to repurpose into items. Vintage textiles reflect Japan’s artisan traditions.
Mount Fuji Artwork
Images of Mount Fuji make iconic Japanese gifts and souvenirs. Look for ukiyo-e woodblock prints, watercolors, or photographs capturing the majestic mountain. Canvas prints, scrolls, and postcards are affordable options starting around 1,000 yen. Higher-end original paintings and antique Fuji artwork can sell for thousands but make valuable mementos.
Hokusai and Hiroshige Art
Ukiyo-e woodblock prints by famous artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige are quintessential Japanese art pieces. Hokusai’s Great Wave Off Kanagawa and Hiroshige’s series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji are especially popular. Reproductions are sold in posters, postcards, and canvas prints. Look for antique woodblock prints at specialty shops for investment purchases.
Miniature potted bonsai trees require care but make special living souvenirs. Trees are shaped over the years into elegant forms. Opt for hardy varieties suitable for your home climate.
Bonsai trees make for a truly special and authentic souvenir from Japan. These miniature potted trees have been trained over the years using pruning techniques to take on elegant shapes and forms. Caring for a bonsai tree requires dedication, but it can become a beloved lifelong plant.
When shopping for a bonsai, choose from hardy tree types suitable for growing back home. Research whether your climate and conditions will allow the bonsai to thrive. Vendors can advise on daily, seasonal, and repotting care. Transport bonsai as carry-on luggage so it is not damaged. With attention and patience, a Japanese bonsai tree will flourish into a miniature sculpture showcasing Japan’s gardening mastery.
Furoshiki Wrapping Cloths
Furoshiki are versatile cloths used for gift wrapping, carrying items, and storage in Japan. Their bright colors and bold prints make them useful, beautiful souvenirs.
Look for lightweight cotton furoshiki in square or rectangular shapes. Vibrant patterns include flowers, nature scenery, Japanese fans, and traditional symbols. Large furoshiki can be used as table runners or displays back home. Compact handkerchief-sized furoshiki work for wrapping small gifts. Easy to fold and pack, furoshiki represents an eco-friendly Japanese design. These decorative cloths offer countless possibilities for reuse and make colorful reminders of your trip.
Find beautiful, high-quality ceramic pieces crafted by Japan’s artisan potters. Traditional pottery towns like Mashiko, Kanazawa, and Arita offer diverse styles. Look for tea bowls, cups, sake sets, vases, and incense holders made from porcelain, clay, or stoneware. Check maker’s marks or shop labels for artist information. Simple but beautifully glazed pots start around ¥3,000.
Zori & Geta Sandals
For a traditional Japanese footwear souvenir, consider picking up a pair of zori or geta sandals. Zori are flat thong-style sandals made from cloth, leather, or vinyl. Colorful cotton or brocade zori with vibrant print patterns is a popular, affordable option starting around 1000 yen.
Geta are wooden sandals with elevated teeth under the sole. Casual styles may have a fabric thong, while formal geta are completely carved from wood. The teeth lift the foot above the ground. Geta ranges from cheap 100 yen pairs to expertly crafted versions costing tens of thousands of yen depending on wood quality and artisan detail. These lightweight sandals pack easily and make great shoes to remember your trip to Japan. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Tokyo’s premier urban oasis, captivates with its harmonious blend of Japanese and Western gardens, serene ponds, vibrant cherry blossoms, and picturesque tea houses—a must-visit park for nature enthusiasts and tranquility seekers.