Wondering which souvenirs to bring home from Japan? Then you’re certainly in the right place because this detailed guide covers all the best souvenirs from the Asian country!
Whether you’re staying in Tokyo or traveling through Northern Japan, you’ll want to pick up a few trinkets to remind you of your time in Japan. Traditional garments, popular skincare products, and iconic cat figurines are just a few of the things that make for amazing souvenirs from Japan.
We’ve got a dozen other ideas for you, so read on to see all the things that make for the best souvenirs from Japan!
Dolls have been a part of Japanese culture forever, and a classic Japanese doll makes for a great souvenir that will instantly remind you of your trip the moment you look at it. Out of all the different Japanese dolls, the Daruma dolls are perhaps the most iconic.
These are thought to be good luck charms and they’re modeled after the likeness of the founder of Zen Buddhism. They do look a bit strange, with an angry face and eyes without pupils, but this is supposed to remind the owner how important it is to persevere.
In fact, when you buy a Daruma doll, you should color one of its pupils and set a goal or an ambition for yourself. Once you’ve achieved it, you can color in the other pupil, and you’re left with an epic souvenir that will forever remind you of your successes.
Other popular dolls that make for great souvenirs are Kokeshi dolls, Kyoto dolls, and Kintaro dolls, among others.
Japanese stationery makes for an excellent souvenir, especially if you’re buying it for someone who still enjoys writing with a pen on paper. What’s even better is that shopping for stationery is going to be one of the best experiences you have in Japan, albeit it can be a bit overwhelming.
You can find shops that sell everything related to stationary in those huge shopping malls in Tokyo, but you’ll also find loads of options in the smaller shops throughout the cities.
Whether you want to get some beautiful letter papers and envelopes, dozens of Shiba Inu stickers, or just masking tape in every print and color on the planet, you’ll find everything you could possibly want in these shops.
That’s why the experience can be overwhelming – with so many different colors and prints to choose from, how are you supposed to pick just a few souvenirs to take home?
Matcha tea is one of the most popular drinks in Japan, and it’s definitely one of the best souvenirs from Japan, especially if you are shopping for a tea drinker. It’s a kind of green tea that’s delicious to drink, has numerous health benefits, and is an unmistakable symbol of Japanese tradition and culture.
Matcha green tea is sold in powder form, which makes it perfect for mixing with other drinks. Matcha lattes and smoothies are also pretty popular outside Japan, so it’s easy to see why a sack of this versatile green powder makes for an excellent souvenir from Japan.
If you’re shopping for an avid tea drinker, consider getting them a Kyusu as well. Kyusu is the Japanese word for the traditional teapot that’s used in the tea ceremony, and it makes for the perfect present along with Matcha green tea powder.
Japanese Sake is fermented rice wine that’s usually served with sushi. It’s a great present for any foodie in your life, or just for someone who enjoys trying popular alcoholic beverages from different countries. You might have already tried sake at your favorite Japanese restaurant, but it’s nothing compared to the real deal that you buy in Japan.
One tip for shopping sake is to try and buy it in a PET container if you can. It’s not the most environmentally friendly option and you’ll find that the highest-quality sake is usually sold in glass bottles, but it’s the best thing for transport.
A plastic bottle is unlikely to break if your suitcase gets thrown around a lot, and it’s a lot lighter than a glass bottle, which will help with the weight limit for your luggage.
If you are buying souvenirs for a chocolate lover, the best Japanese souvenirs for them would be any kind of Japanese sweets. Japan has all sorts of unique chocolates that are extremely hard to find in other places throughout the world, including Matcha Kit-Kats and single-serving Tirol chocolates.
Perhaps the best Japanese chocolates are the Nama chocolates from Royce. They’re a kind of ganache chocolate pieces that melt in your mouth. These are the perfect Japan souvenirs for all your friends who refuse to eat cake unless it has chocolate on it since they’re some of the most delicious and decadent chocolates in the world.
Although they’re not quite as famous as Koren beauty products, Japanese beauty products make for great souvenirs. Shop products from Tatcha and Shiseido, if you want to surprise someone with luxury cosmetics that they’ll absolutely adore. And if they’re at all into makeup and skincare, they will be familiar with these two brands.
Another option is to look for beauty products that are unique to Japan, instead of just shopping for the country’s most famous brands. Look for matcha face masks, lash jelly, facial misters, lip masks, and more!
Japanese knives are famous for excellent craftsmanship, and they’re one of the best things you could buy if you’re trying to get a souvenir for someone who is really into knives. Or just for someone who enjoys cooking and would appreciate a sturdy, sharp knife.
The trick is, if you want a truly amazing knife, it’s not going to be cheap. Some of the best Japanese knives can cost hundreds of dollars, so consider getting these as souvenirs only if you absolutely need them or you’re shopping for someone special.
The quality of the knives is pristine, whether you opt for carbon or stainless steel knives. Also, you can buy special knives with engravings on the blades and beautifully crafted handles, which are as gorgeous as they are functional.
The most popular types of Japanese knives are Santoku (a multipurpose knife), Gyutou (chef’s knife), Sujihiki (slicer), Nakiri (for precision cutting), and about a dozen others. You will find the best selection of knives in specialty stores in bigger cities in Japan.
Japanese ceramics are beautiful, high-quality, and make for excellent gifts, either for someone you love or for yourself. Also, Japanese ceramics can include everything from cute figurines to gorgeous tea sets, all with that signature Japanese crafting style.
It’s worth noting that ceramics can be quite expensive, so it’s best to look for antiques. Also, you might want to avoid the high-end shops unless you have an enormous budget – the craftsmanship truly is amazing, but it’s also reflected in the cost of these items.
Plus, with the chance of it getting broken or damaged by the time you land home, it’s not the best idea to spend a lot of money on something so fragile.
Visit the Tokyo flea markets instead, where you can find the best deals on ceramics and antiques. You’ll also find some rare and unique items, which you’ll be able to snag for a fraction of their original cost!
Japanese wind chimes (also known as furin) are a staple you’ll see everywhere if you’re traveling through Japan in the summer. They’re great souvenirs because they will instantly evoke memories of your Japan travels, and all the different places you visit that had these little ringing wind chimes.
Although they were historically hung in temples and on sacred sites in order to ward off any evils, nowadays they’re hung everywhere where they can catch the wind. You can hang them on your balcony or outside the window, so you can always see them swaying in the wind.
Kanzashi are the hair ornaments that are common in traditional Japanese hairstyles. You can usually see them on Japanese girls dressed in Kimonos and other traditional wear in Kyoto, and they make for excellent souvenirs. If you’ve already decided to purchase a Kimono for someone (or yourself), you should also pick up a Kanzashi.
You can find these in various shops throughout the country that specialize in selling Japanese crafts. The best selection is usually in the little shops throughout Kyoto, so be on the lookout for some beautiful hair ornaments while you’re strolling around the magical city.
Japanese hand fans are part of traditional attire for women, and they make for great souvenirs. They’re not only beautiful but also very functional – the fan can help you cool down a bit in hot weather, so they make for a very useful present!
A folding fan is the best thing to look for in Japanese souvenir shops since it’s super convenient to use and takes up very little space in a purse. Japanese fans are also made in a rigid style, but these are more decorative than useful.
Look for fans with distinct Japanese art if you want to buy a unique and beautiful present. These fans are available in a wide variety of colors and styles, from basic plain white fans to those decorated with gorgeous images.
Masks are ubiquitous in Japan and you’ll find some in pretty much every souvenir shop you enter. That’s because they have a very long history in Japan – since medieval times, it’s been thought that masks have special magical properties, just like swords, amulets, and sacred mirrors.
Also, several masked festivals take place in Japan throughout the year, and each will require most attendees to wear a specific mask. If you happen to be in Japan during a particular festival and you want to take part, it’s an awesome excuse to buy a mask that’s also a great souvenir to bring home.
On top of that, the masks are beautiful ornaments that you can hang on the wall of any room in your home. They’re great as decorative elements that evoke memories of your travels, and they’re also useful for Halloween and costume parties.
Just try to be informed about the masks you’re buying, and avoid purchasing a mask that denotes something sacred and extremely important for Japanese culture if you intend on wearing it as a Halloween mask since that can be perceived as inappropriate.
Maneki Neko is one of the best Japanese souvenirs to bring back home. It’s the cat figurine with one paw up in the air, and it’s such a popular symbol of Japanese culture that it can be found in pretty much every store in the country, as well as countless other places throughout the world.
The Gōtoku-ji Temple in Tokyo exemplifies just how popular this figurine is. If you’re already traveling through Tokyo, you should definitely visit the temple to see the thousands of Maneki Neko figurines that can be found here.
It’s worth noting that the figurine is made in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and styles. The traditional Japanese Maneki-Neko is white with red accents, but there are so many different takes on this popular Japanese souvenir that is’ possible to shop any kind of Maneki Neko your heart desires.
The Kimono is a traditional Japanese garment and it makes for one of the best Japanese souvenir gifts. You can find them in various shops throughout the country, but Tokyo and Kyoto offer by far the best and widest selection of kimonos.
There you’ll find everything from affordable Kimonos that are sold as souvenirs, to unique garments made from the finest materials. The Kimono can be made from a wide variety of materials – on the lower end, cotton and synthetics are often used, while the premium garments are usually made with linen, satin weaves, silk brocade, and silk.
If you’re buying souvenirs for someone who enjoys making food and home, a bento box is one of the best Japanese souvenirs to get for them. Bento boxes are traditional takeaway boxes in Japan, with several sections that allow you to put portions of different foods in the box without them mixing.
They are available in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and styles, and you can buy them pretty much anywhere in Japan. Bento boxes make for excellent lunch boxes and even better souvenirs – if you usually bring a packed lunch to work, why not use a container that will remind you of your travels through Japan whenever you look at it!
It’s worth noting that packed takeaway meals are very popular in Japan, and you can buy them in most stores. They’re usually cheaper than eating out (depending on what exactly is in the box), so they’re a great meal for budget travelers in Japan.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.