Best Japanese Souvenirs
Japan has a huge souvenir culture, so much so that even Japanese people will buy souvenirs when they travel to a different prefecture! Here are a few ideas on what you can bring back home!
Japan loves their mascots!
While everyone knows about her Majesty, Hello Kitty, there are an abundance of mascots with their own stationery, key-chains, magnets and furniture ranges! Though some are cute like Rilakkuma and Sumikko gurashi, others are a cross between cute and weird as fuck. See Exhibit A, Gudetama, the boiled egg for details...
I will also mention more traditional 'mascots' that contribute to the image of Japan and oftentimes specific prefectures. A postcard of the deer at Nara, a magnet of a maiko (female entertainer; think kimono and a face painted white) from Kyoto, a poster of Mt. Fuji from Tokyo, a key-chain of plastic octopus balls (takoyaki) from Osaka...when it comes to little trinkets, you're spoiled for choice!
I’ll also take this time to let you know that Pokémon Centers are real..!
Unlike in the West, sheet masks are a typical addition to one's skincare routine in both Japan and South Korea. On top of being very hydrating and nourishing and oftentimes anti-ageing, some are aesthetically pleasing and even humorous! How about picking up a few Kabuki (tradition theater) masks or a monster pack of 40+ masks to last a few weeks!
There are countless unfamiliar flavours that you can encounter in Japan! Authentic Uji matcha (green tea) is unlike any green tea bag you've ever purchased from a local supermarket; you might take a while trying to decide whether you like the taste and texture of kinoko warabimochi (soy bean powdered confectionery); and black sesame yastuhashi (a spiced rice-flour confectionery) is an interesting shock to your taste buds.
Though Kit-Kat isn't Japanese (it's actually on my list of Best British Souvenirs!), Japan has an incredible assortment of flavours, like sweet potato and strawberry, that you'd be crazy not to try!
Japanese whisky is very well-known and needs no introduction, but for those who have different alcohol preferences, why not grab a bottle of umeshu (plum wine), nihonshu (rice wine) or some shochu (a distilled spirit). Maybe you’re adventurous enough to buy some habushu (Okinawan snake wine) if you venture over to the tropical side of Japan; I’m sure the whole snake inside would shock the recipient of your thoughtful gift! You could top it all off with a sake set of small cups called ochoko, to enhance the Japanese drinking experience!
So, those were a few Japanese souvenir ideas for your next trip!
Obviously, you should cater your gifts to the person or persons you are buying for. My sister sews so she would much rather prefer some washi tape or fabric used for yukata (traditional dress), whereas I am more interested in collecting foreign coins. As long as you avoid things that you could buy in your local or Asian supermarket (like Pocky, unless it's the jumbo pack), you'll have some thoughtful, quirky or useful gifts to give!
All images are my own and are subject to copyright.