25 Best Things To Buy In Japan 2021
Wondering what are the most trendy and cool things to buy in Japan?
Don’t worry! In this blog, we suggest you the complete list of 25 best things to buy in Japan. From uniquely Japanese souvenirs to matcha products and traditional craftworks, we’ve got it all. Let’s find out perfect Japanese gifts for you to bring home!
Things to buy in Japan when traveling
25 things you can only buy in Japan
1. Matcha products
Matcha is the finely ground green tea powder which has slightly bitter, but deep and delicious flavors of green tea. The process of producing matcha includes many steps from tree care, coverage, selecting tea buds, high-temperature steam and rapid cooling, etc to plant and transfer from aracha to tencha and then matcha. The oldest known matcha farm in this country is a small plantation with about 2,000 trees and located in the center of Uji, Kyoto.
With an extremely high amount of antioxidants (including EGCG), matcha has remarkable health benefits. It is believed to help detoxify the body, boost metabolism, improve mood and ability to focus.
Matcha products can be enjoyed in various different ways, from the ground powder itself and green tea to matcha snacks, desserts such as KitKat, Pocky and so on. The two best cities to explore Matcha flavors are Tokyo – home to a great number of cafe houses, and the other is Kyoto – the city of the finest Japanese tea leaves and authentic teahouses. Besides, matcha has amazing effects on skin. It could be mixed with red pomegranate, brown rice or cherry blossom to create perfect skincare products.
Matcha’s delightful flavor and health benefit fascinate many people, making it the best thing to buy in Japan as a gift. You can easily get your favorite matcha products at convenience stores, supermarkets, drugstores and souvenir stores in Japan.
2. Japanese cosmetic products
From generation to generation, Japanese people have been well-known for their ageless skin and extremely safe skin-care treatment. Cosmetic products such as acne treatment, freckles treatment, moisturizer, anti-age, etc are easy to apply and highly recommended by dermatologists.
Most Japanese cosmetic products are purely extracted from natural ingredients, additive-free and strictly dermatologist-tested. From high-end brands like Shiseido, KOSE and SK-Ⅱ to popular ones like Hada Labo and Shu Uemura, Japan offers a wide range of products that can be found easily at every beauty store or pharmacy. Moreover, not all products from Japan are costly. There are many cosmetic brands with very affordable prices and good use.
Furoshiki, literally meaning “bath (furo) and spread (shiki), first appeared in the Nara dynasty (710–794) under the name tsutsumi (つ つ み). However, many people think that Furoshiki is related to Japanese sauna customs dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868). It is a square piece of cloth or fabric used for gift wrapping, transporting items, fashion, and home decor.
In Japan, Furoshiki is not only a wrapping item but also the art of packaging and the symbol of national culture and lifestyle. It can be made from a variety of fabrics such as silk, cotton or synthetic fibers. Each type of pattern adorned in the cloth has its own meaning. Nowadays, Furoshiki is not only popular in Japanese life but also in many other countries because of its eco-friendliness and versatility.
4. Name stamps hanko
Hanko is a Japanese carved stamp with a history dating back to the year 57 CE. Nowadays, Japan is the only country in the world that still uses name seals to stamp important documents instead of signing.
Hanko is very traditional, essential and supposed to be ethereally entwined with the spirit of the user. Family members usually give their children a hanko on their 20th birthday. Actually, stamping your name on letters, cards and stuff is kinda cool, right? Why don’t you make your own hanko?
There are a number of hankoya (hanko stores) in Japan. You can also find many online. While a pre-made hanko is fairly cheap (only 100 – 500 yen/one), getting a hanko made will cost much more money:
- Wooden ‘design’ seal: from 3,000 yen
- Acrylic hanko: from 2,980 yen
- Wood/horn: from 10,000 yen
Referred to as Japanese rice wine, Sake is the national beverage that has been produced and enjoyed for thousands of years. Being made from fermenting rice, Sake features its slight sweetness and fruitiness. It’s well known for reducing the risk of having cancer, preventing diabetes and making skin refresh and healthy.
Considered to be the most unique and delicate alcohol in Japan, Sake is usually served in special ceremonies. There are 4 main types of Sake: Daiginjo, Ginjo, Junmai, and Honjozo. Below are the most 6 popular sake brands in Tokyo:
- Kirin Zan Junmai Ginjo
- Tanaka Shuzo
Wagashi (和菓子) are traditional Japanese sweets that are typically enjoyed in combination with a cup of green tea. They are made in a wide variety of shapes and consistencies, with diverse preparation methods. Basically, the wrapper is white bean starch mixing with a little glutinous rice flour (gyuhi) and sugar water. Some famous types of wagashi are namagashi, daifuku, dorayaki and mochi.
Wagashi can be purchased at specialty sweet shops, department stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and food stands.
7. Sensu folding fan
Sensu is a type of hand fan built from bamboo or wood sticks frame and coated with paper or cloth. It has been used in Japan by the nobility and monks since the Heian period. Besides that, it also plays an important role in performing arts (such as Noh, Kyōgen, Rakugo and traditional Japanese dances) as well as in tea ceremony.
A sensu requires handcrafting at each step, from making the fan ribs and paper, to the folding and finishing stages. There are three types of folding fans, the hiōgi (wooden folding fan), the kamisen (paper folding fan), and the kinnusen (silk folding fan).
Folding fan is a budget-friendly item that also makes a great souvenir from Japan. You can find them at 100-yen shops or sensu specialty shops such as Kyosendo. The prices vary from 100 – 1000 yen.
8. Japanese knives
You may be surprised to know that Japanese knives have exceptionally high reputations for their fine quality, handiness and cutting sharpness and are the top selling souvenirs in Japan.
Japanese knives could be made from stainless steel or carbon steel and sometimes both. There is a huge variety of knives for every kitchen task. They are all skillfully handcrafted, beautiful, and highly specialized for both professional cooks or home-use, which make them one of the best things to buy in Japan.
Here, we introduce shops that provide customers with a wide selection of knives in variations and quantity.
- Kaneshop (Tokyo) 1-18-12 Asakusa, Daito-ku, Tokyo
- JIKKO (Osaka) 1-1-9 Nishikino-cho, Sakai-ku, Sakai City, Osaka
- Tsukiji Masamoto (Tokyo) 1098 Tominaga, Tsubame City, Niigata
For those who are not sure of where to start, remember to check weights and feels before purchasing, or you can ask for help from available advisors at stores. Prices start from $100 to over $500 and beyond.
9. Ninja set
For those who wonder what are the best souvenirs to buy in Japan, the answer would be Ninja goods. Ninja (忍者) was a trained spy agent or mercenary that mysteriously existed in feudal Japan. The functions of a ninja included espionage, deception, and murder.
In novels and movies, ninjas are often depicted as assassins that dressed in all black, moved fast and used darts and swords as weapons. For those who are interested in Japanese culture and craftsmanship, antique artifacts related to Ninja would be a perfect souvenir to bring back to the home country.
You can visit Miraiza osaka-jo, Osaka Castle park or Don Quijote to purchase your favorite antique ninja swords/armor, traditional crafts made in Japan and so on. Each item will normally cost you 300-400 yen. You can even take a ninja post if you like!
10. Toe socks
Socks are very important in Japan as they are often shown off in front of other people, thanks to the traditional code of leaving shoes at the door. And for some reason, made-in-Japan socks are popular amongst women as souvenirs of Japan travel.
The traditional socks in Japan, Tabi (足袋), has history that dates back to the 15th century. They feature a high ankle and separated toe. Tabi could be worn by both men and women with footwear such as zōri and sometimes geta. Together with dresses like kimono or yukata, they become the nation’s traditional clothing set. White tabi are worn in formal situations such as tea ceremonies.
It sounds pretty odd but buying toe socks is a cheap and fun choice. Those socks could be easily found at Muji and Village Vanguard with reasonable prices (100-200 yen).
11. Anime and manga
Anime (ア ニ メ) is a borrowed word meaning animation in English. It refers to cartoons made in Japan or with Japanese style. Just like dramas, it covers a lot of different genres including action, comedy, romance, adventure, etc.
Manga (漫画) is a Japanese term for comic books and caricatures. Manga is a word that specially refers to comic originating from Japan. In 2007, manga dominated a multi-billion dollar global market. Manga grew rapidly after World War II and today, they are read by all ages of Japanese people. Some typical amine and manga are One piece, Naruto, Howl’s moving castle, Spirited away, Grave of the fireflies, Detective conan.
Omamori (お守り) – meaning protection – is one of the most popular Japanese amulets. They are usually made of brocade silk, including a piece of paper or wood with written prayers inside.
Omamoris come in different sizes, shapes and colours with various functions: wishing for success, happiness, good fortune, good health, warding off evil, etc. And all types of amulet can be found at Shinto shrines and temples throughout Japan at the price of 500-1000 yen.
Lucky charm isn’t only a regular souvenir but also a very typical and respected blessing object in Japanese culture. Handmade Omamori is really cool stuff to buy in Japan as a gift for your family.
Japanese chopsticks are part of a distinctive culinary culture. Additionally, they are tiny and easy to carry around so they make for a great souvenir.
Chopsticks in Japan are high quality and meticulously produced. Some are coated with lacquer, or carved out of high-quality wood, or made to be used only for ramen or udon noodles. Here are some places for you to shop:
- Morita 1-30-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Hashi Gallery Mon, Kichijoji, Tokyo
- Nippon-ichi Nihombashi Takashimaya S.C.
- Marugoto Nippon
Being one of the oldest pottery traditions in the world, Japan has an exceptionally successful history of ceramic production. For thousands of years, pottery and ceramics have been a large part of both the art world and everyday life here in Japan.
Japanese ceramics are like nothing else in the world. It could be simple and roughly finished pottery, mostly in earthenware color or brightly coloured porcelain, with complex and balanced decoration.
Japanese tea bowls, plates, vases are great souvenirs to bring home. Options are available at all price points. The best places to purchase ceramics in Japan are:
- Oedo Antique Market Tokyo
- Aoyama Square
- Cover Nippon, Tokyo midtown
15. Maneki Neko
Maneki Neko (招き猫, literally ‘beckoning cat’) is a popular Japanese figurine, originating in the Edo period. This cat is said to bring good luck to its owner. Because of that, people usually place them at the entrance of shops or restaurants.
Often made of ceramic, Maneki Neko has one or two movable paws, in a beckoning (welcoming) pose. They sometimes hold an ancient Japanese gold coin (Koban) or a carp (Koi). There are also some small decorations around the cat’s neck such as a scarf, necklaces, bells and bibs. Being tiny, inexpensive and unique, this cat is an awesome souvenir to bring home.
Visit Koide Shoten, Tokyo to buy a little cute Maneki Neko with only 220 yen.
16. Daruma doll
Another symbol of perseverance and luck in Japan is the Daruma doll – which could be seen a bit scary and goofy.
Daruma is a traditional Japanese doll, adapted from the face of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. These dolls are usually made of wood, round, have faces with empty eyes, large black mustaches and do not have limbs.
In fact the eyebrows have shapes that look like cranes, and the beard like turtles. These two animals often represent longevity in Eastern culture. Moreover, because of the round shape, the doll always swings back into its upright position when tilting, which makes it to become the symbol of recovery and continuous attempts.
Do you notice the blank white eyes of Daruma doll? What you do is to paint one eye into black when you start committing to your goal and asking for help from the god. Then, when you achieve what you wish, you fill up the second eye, giving the god its eyesight back as a thank you for helping you.
Origami (折紙 – ori meaning “folding”, and gami meaning “paper”) is the art of paper folding, emerged in Japan during ancient times and now widely practiced around the world. They are really intricate designs that are created from a single sheet of paper, with no cutting and extremely complex folds. The practice and study of origami encapsulates several subjects of mathematical interest. Origami brings the greatest artistic and cultural advances. You can fold a simple quadrilateral paper into any shape as you want: stars, flowers, laws of nature or the dignity of life.
Umbrellas have long been a feature in the daily life of Japan, and in its mirror, Japanese art. They can be seen in many woodblock prints, held in the hands of actors, geisha, or ordinary townsfolk.
Japanese traditional umbrellas are made from bamboo and paper coated with oil, which armors them quite nicely against the rain. Nowadays, the modern Japanese umbrella has a reputation for being high quality and super sturdy. They are available at every convenience store or the Big Camera shops. Prices normally fall around 500 yen/each.
19. Teru teru bozu
A teru teru bōzu ( てるてる坊主, literally “shine shine monk”) is a small traditional handmade doll in Japan. The dolls are made from white paper towels or white square cloth. Japanese farmers usually hang Teru teru bozu outside of their window by a string in hope of sunny weather.
20. Hair accessories
Japanese hair accessories are finely crafted products. In the past, Japanese women mostly used beautifully intricate pointed sticks as hair ornaments. These hair ornaments also had a second use as a defensisve weapon. Nowadays, you can buy either simple and elegant hair pins or sweet and girly headbands like lolita style.
21. Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints
Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries. The main subjects in woodblock prints and paintings are beautiful women, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, scenes from history and folk tales, travel scenes and landscapes. The term ukiyo-e (浮世絵) literally translates as “picture of the floating world”.
Ukiyo-e has been widely recognized as an iconic form of Japanese art with fascinating history, age-old techniques, recognizable style, and lasting legacy. They are the quintessence of marvel of line, color and composition. Price for a modern woodblock print varies from 50-150$.
22. Furin – Wind Chimes
Japanese wind bell Furin (“Fu” means wind and “rin” is bell in Japanese) is originally a fortune-telling tool in China. The glass Edo Furin wind chime is particularly beautiful and can be often seen during Japan’s humid season.
A furin consists of a metal or glass exterior, the zetsu (clapper) on the inside that produces the sound, and a strip of paper. With just these three parts, a furin emits the beautiful vibration that is reminiscent of summer time. Japanese people usually hang those wind bells outside or near the windows so that they can enjoy the soothing sounds when the wind blows.
These little cuties are available at Fujiwara Furin Main Shop in Tokyo at reasonable prices.
Koinobori (鯉のぼり), meaning “carp streamer” in Japanese, refers to the colorful carp-shaped windsock in Japan. In this country, carps are considered to be the most spirited fish, full of energy and power to fight its way up rapidly-flowing streams. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, the carp symbolises courage and the ability to attain high goals. As a result, Japanese people traditionally use Koinobori as decorations in Kodomo no Hi – the national holiday for boys in hope that their sons will grow up healthy and strong.
The Yukata (浴衣) is the informal version of Kimono, which is worn in the spring and summer, specifically for onsen bathing, festivals and cherry blossom viewing ceremonies. Because of that, it will be made from lighter fabric and brighter colors, and generally less expensive than the traditional Kimono.
Yukata come in different colors and patterns. Normally, a child may wear a multicolored print, while old people wear dark, matured colors and dull patterns. Younger people wear bright, vivid colors and bold patterns, while an older woman would confine herself to a traditional dark blue with geometric patterns.
25. 100 yen products
100 yen products are what you really shouldn’t miss when visiting Japan. They are a type of discount store that sell a wide range of products for 100 yen plus consumption tax. This corresponds roughly to one US dollar, making these shops a great source for travelers and residents on a budget.
You can find everything in this kind of shop, from kitchenware, stationery, cosmetics to clothes, food and drink, decor items. What’s more, 100 yen stores like Daiso, Seria and Can-do open throughout the country, from big cities like Tokyo to small suburbs in Kyoto, so you can easily get your favorites!
Frequently asked questions
1. What items are cheap in Japan?
Japan is unfairly known as an expensive country to travel in, as in reality, there are surprisingly cheap items that can help you stick to your budget while there.
First, used manga and game consoles with 20-95% off retail price is a good choice that can be found at stores like Book Off and Super Potato. Next, 100-yen stores are your best friend for souvenir shopping, as the majority of them – especially the ones located in big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto – include Japan-specific sections with items like folding fans, Japan-themed ceramics and cute stationary. People also come to Japan to shop for electronic goods and local brand clothing at cheaper prices.
2. What to buy in Japan 2021?
- Starbuck tumbler
Starbucks is absolutely famous in Japan. Besides the beverage and food, people are also into Starbuck Japan merchandise. Limited collections of tumblers and mugs about Japanese cities or seasonal collections such as Cherry Blossom, Christmas and New Year themes are extremely popular and sold out quickly once released.
- Japanese Souvenirs with Olympic Symbolism
These are a perfect combination of Japanese culture and Olympic symbolism. And you can purchase them both online and in store at every price range.
3. What are the best things to buy in Tokyo?
Tokyo is a treasure trove for shoppers looking for unique Japanese gifts and souvenirs that can’t be found anywhere else. Here are some of the best things for you to choose:
- Tokyo banana
- Limited tokyo kitkat
- Asakusa Kaminarimon Goods
- Items from the Shibuya
So that’s all about things to buy in Japan. Hope you find this blog useful and interesting. Any questions about location guides? Please leave below, we’re happy to answer.