If you are planning a trip to Japan and want to know what to buy in Japan, this post has you covered! One of my favourite things about travel is finding something special from the places I visit. There are so many things to buy in Japan, it can be hard to choose! In Egypt, I loved exploring the souqs and had fun picking out alabaster canopic jars to hold small treasures back home! In Iceland, one of the popular things to buy is something made of Icelandic Wool.
Whether you are shopping in Japan for gifts, or looking for what to buy in Japan as a keepsake from your trip, you will find plenty of ideas below! One of the things that I try and collect in every county I visit is a small flag. I often send postcards to myself at home as well, as it is always fun to receive mail, since so few letters are mailed anymore! In this article, you will find the best Japanese souvenirs to bring home from your visit, or ideas for gifts for special people in your life!
Things to Buy in Japan: the Best Japanese Souvenirs
Japanese Green Tea
Japanese green tea is the most consumed beverage in Japan. I had it at least twice a day while we visited rural Japan. It is renowned for its antioxidants and heart health benefits. It is served with almost every meal in Japan. It is best enjoyed hot, but not boiling, and without sugar or milk. For any tea lover in your life, this is a must buy in Japan
One of the popular things to buy in Japan is anything matcha. Matcha is different from green tea, as matcha is powdered tea leaves and dissolves into water where Japanese green tea is made from steeping tea leaves in hot water. But matcha is not just for hot tea, from deserts to to flavouring foods, matcha is popular all over the world. Japan’s range of matcha products (I highly suggest some matcha mochi) is huge! If you are looking for Matcha au lait (like a green tea latte), as one of your Japan souvenirs, look no further than a convenience store. If you happen to find yourself in a Don Quijote store, they have a big matcha section too! If it is your first time in Japan, check out tips on visiting Japan for the first time.
Daifuku mochi is a popular Japanese sweet. It is made of mochi (rice flour paste) and red bean paste inside. You can find these in convenience stores, hotel lobbies and gift shops! They are one of the best souvenirs from Japan and one of the things I make sure to bring home with me! There are plenty of other flavours if red bean paste is not your thing, from strawberry to seasonal favourites such as chestnuts!
Japanese Rice Cooker
Japan is known for its electronics, especially the Made in Japan products. Japanese rice cookers are one of the things you can only buy in Japan. There is something extra delicious about japanese rice, and a japanese rice cooker will help you take that taste home with you! Electronic toilet seats are also popular if you are not looking for a rice cooker but want one of Japan’s popular electronics!
A nice folding fan is one of the popular things to buy in Japan as a gift to bring home. Whether you plan on giving it to a friend of perhaps displaying it at home, it makes a great keepsake from a japan visit.
One of the famous things to buy in Japan, is dorayaki, a Japanese pancake. They are often made into a sandwich with the popular red bean paste inside! If you like mochi, you will probably like dorayaki as well.
A kemdama is a traditional Japanese skill toy. It was also known as the sun and moon game as the ball represented the sun, and the cups on the toy represented a crescent moon. If you have kids at home, consider picking them up a kemdama. I saw them for sale at the Don Quijote in Tokyo. If it is your first time in Tokyo, have a read of everything you want to know for Tokyo first timers!
Something with a Cat on it
Japanese people love cats and you can find cat souvenirs all over Japan. If you visit a cat cafe, this makes an extra special Japanese gift idea.
From quality brands like shiseido, KOSE, SK-II to drug store styles, they can be found quite easily while you are in Japan. If you want to know what to buy in Tokyo airport Duty Free shops, this is one of them!
A Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth and is the perfect wrapping for your Japanese souvenirs. It dates back hundreds of years and it is thought that it was for bath houses so that bathers could identify their wares. It was also used by merchants but is largely now used for wrapping gifts.
Buying chopsticks in Japan is a sustainable choice. Rather than using the bamboo ones that are used once and thrown away, buy yourself some chopsticks to use while you are in Japan and as a Japanese souvenir to bring home with you! They are small and take up little room, they can always be used for future travels, as well as take out at home!
Sake is one of the best things to buy in Japan to bring home from your visit, or to enjoy while you are in the country! After visiting a distillery, I was happy to bring some sake home with me! You can always buy it at the Duty Free when you leave. Check your country’s import restrictions on what you can bring home.
Shopping in Japan
There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping in Tokyo and the rest of Japan. When I visited for the first time, one of the things I was told was to try EVERYTHING in the vending machines! Whether it is a hot beverage, something to eat, or a unique Japanese souvenir, I had great fun checking out the vending machines and making my first purchase!
The Japanese currency is the Japanese Yen and 1 USD is about 112 JPY. You can check out exact exchange rates here.
Eating on the street in Japan is not common. If you buy something from a vending machine, you should eat or drink it right there. People do not walk and eat, or eat on public transport, unless it is a long ride. While it is unlikely that anyone will say anything, when I travel I try and fit in like a local and learn the local customs of a country. Keep this in mind when you visit.
You can pay by credit card in places like Starbucks, but cash is best in local shops, for small purchases in restaurants and corner stores and on the train (I found out the hard way that you cannot buy a ticket for the train in Tokyo with a credit card).
Final Thoughts on Japanese Souvenirs
Japan is an amazing country to visit, and the charm of its cherry blossoms and the allure of its nature bring visitors from all over the world. But there is more to see than Tokyo. When you are planning your visit to Japan, consider exploring the heartland of the region. I recently visited Shimane Prefecture with Heartland Japan and was amazed to learn that so many people visit the major tourist sites but do not venture very far off the beaten path! I was able to explore beautiful nature, enjoy authentic ryokan accommodation, experience a Japanese onsen with locals and explore Japan without any other tourists around!
Lindsay is the founder and editor of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She left her career in Canada to share her love of travel with her two young boys. She is passionate about sharing adventure travel activities for families and to encourage others to explore the world. She resides in the suburbs of Vancouver when not jet setting abroad.