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I am a sucker for a souvenir. I am the type of person who always attempts to set a strict budget on trips but then comes home with a suitcase full of souvenirs. So much so my souvenirs from Japan resulted in my suitcase being 5kgs heavier on our return journey, the majority of which came from Tokyo. The endless shops made it very difficult to decide what to buy in Tokyo, so it would appear I bought it all!
Hopefully, you are more sensible than me, which is why I have created this guide of the best and most unique things to buy in Tokyo, as well as some low cost or free souvenirs to take home from Japan as well.
What to Buy in Tokyo – A Souvenirs from Japan Guide
When I first started researching what I wanted to buy in Tokyo I kept coming across ceramic bowls and was instantly taken. Tiny ceramic bowls are available all across Japan and after often hand-painted with pretty detailed designs with strong Japanese influences.
I believe the bowls are mainly used for serving sauces, such as soy sauce but of course, you can use them for anything. I brought home a super cute one with Sheba Inu dogs on, which I intend to eat my breakfast yoghurt out of – the perfect way to cheer up my mornings with a memory of Japan.
The bowls are available to buy in most places, however, try to buy them from the independent stores, as opposed to the chain shops (such as Daiso and Don Quijote) as this will hopefully mean they are hand-painted as opposed to mass-produced.
Chopstick and chopsticks stands are available to buy everywhere in Tokyo, there are even shops dedicated to just selling them. You can get plain chopsticks, carved chopsticks, Pokemon chopsticks from the Pokemon Center, any type of chopstick you want, you will be able to find in Toyko.
While it is quite simple, I think a really beautiful pair is a wonderful souvenir from Japan to have. It will also take-up limited room in your case, so a great idea for a small gift from Tokyo.
Chopstick stands are also readily available and again come in a variety of different forms. I personally love the hand-painted ceramic ones, a lot of the stores in Tokyo have them depicting Mount Fuji or cats, and think they will look beautiful went setting up the table for a special dinner.
Chopsticks are available to buy all over Japan and are all different prices, however, we found the best ones to be in the Nakamise Shopping Streets in Asakusa.
Sake Wine is one of the things Japan is famous for, therefore one of the best gifts to bring home from Japan is Sake glasses! They are different from your standard wine glasses, as they are not the traditional flute shape and in fact, look more like tumblers. The set also usually comes with a matching bottle to hold and pour the sake from as well.
If you are looking to buy Sake glasses in Tokyo then head to Akihabara, as we found them to be a lot cheaper there (¥1000 as opposed to ¥1500 in the areas of Shinjuku). The sets are pretty standard and therefore available in most tourist souvenir shops, they also come with pretty Japanese themed designs on and in a gift box.
Every place we visit we try to purchase one piece of wall art to remind us of our visit, therefore this was top of our list when deciding what to buy in Tokyo. Sometimes it will be obvious where it is from, but more often than not we will choose something which only subtly depicts the country/region the print is from.
Many places in Tokyo sell wonderful fabric wall hangings available in a range of different sizes. The majority either had Mount Fuji or was a fun twist on the famous ‘Great Wave (Under the Wave off Kanagawa)’.
We purchased our wall hanging from The Hard Rock Cafe Shop, which has got silhouettes from Geishas holding various band instruments. I am really excited to hang it in our flat and have a constant memory of our incredible trip.
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Japan is famous for its flavoured KitKats, especially Matcha flavour. You can large multi-packs of fun-size KitKats in a large variety of flavours, from sweet potato to Sake wine. The multipacks are great for dividing up and giving as small souvenirs to friends and family.
I found the largest variety of flavours as well as the best prices in Tokyo at Don Quijote, a 24-hour Japanese supermarket, you will recognise it as there is always a huge blue penguin on the front of the store. You can find them elsewhere in Tokyo, however, I found them to be more expensive in the tourist shops.
A bit of niche thing but my partner is a Chef, so it was the top of his things to buy in Tokyo list.
If you are interested in purchasing kitchen knives in Tokyo then you will want to go to Kappabashi, which roughly translates to Kitchen Town. In this area, you will find the widest range of hand-crafted chef and kitchen knives.
My partner, however, purchased his knife from Tower Knives, it is essentially Olivander’s Wand Shop but for knives. They have a massive range, the majority of which are handcrafted and the staff really know their stuff. They also do name-engraving. Tower Knives also have tax-free shopping for tourists on items over ¥5000, however, you need to have your passport on you to receive this discount.
If you are from the UK, you can bring knives back home from Tokyo, however, they need to be safely in your hold luggage.
Have you booked your travel around Japan yet?
Bullet train travel is the best option in Japan and buying a JR rail pass will save you a lot of money. You have to buy the pass before you arrive in Japan, so be sure to order online in enough time before you leave. I purchased mine with and recommend booking your passes with Japan Rail Pass.
I love stationery. It is one of the things in life which makes me extremely happy, so much so I looked up all of the best stationery shops in Tokyo before I visited.
My absolute favourite was The Traveler’s Factory in Tokyo Station, it is only a small shop but they do the most beautiful leather-bound books as well as stickers, stamps, etc. It is quite an expensive shop but each of the pieces are really unique and definitely investment purchases.
If you are looking for budget stationery in Tokyo then visit on the of many Daiso stores. Daiso is a ¥110 shop, meaning everything in ¥110. They have rows and rows of stationery, from pens to notebooks to stickers and washi tape. I bought so much stationery from here, stationary which I would have paid so much more for back home.
Low cost or free souvenirs from Japan
Enamel pins from Gashapon Machines
I collect enamel pins, so I knew to look out for them in Japan. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find them inside the Gashapon (Capsule toy) machines.
Each city had its own set, which some really beautiful ones in Tokyo. For ¥200 per pin, they were really good quality and a great low-cost souvenir to buy from Japan.
If you collect Hard Rock Cafe pins as I do, you might be interested to know there are three different stores in Tokyo, all of which has its only limited pin. The pins at the Hard Rock Cafe range from ¥1300 – ¥2000 – a big difference from the Gashapon pins!
Train Station Stamps
For a free souvenir collect the stamps located in each train and metro station. These large tourist stamps are usually located near the ticket machines in each station and each depicts something significant to the area.
The stamps are a lovely and simple free souvenir to get from Japan.
The Traveler’s Factory is Tokyo Station also have wonderful stamps to use after you purchase something from the store. All of which have the correct date of stamping.
Daiso – ¥110 store
Daiso is a large chain store located across Japan and has become extremely popular with tourists looking to buy souvenirs in Toyko.
Daiso sells everything from food to stationery to homeware as well as a lot of souvenirs. Making it a great place to buy gifts at a very low cost as everything in the shop is priced at ¥110 (with the exception of a few odd labelled items) plus tax.
While the majority of the stock was the same across all stores, there was some variation so do pop-in to a few. In Tokyo, we found the best Daiso to be located on the main street in Harajuku.
When deciding what to buy in Tokyo and which Japanese souvenirs to take home, you will be spoilt for choice. There is so much opportunity for shopping in Tokyo, try to plan ahead and decide what you would like to buy before you visit so you know what to look out for. Also, be sure to make the most of the many low-cost souvenir options available.
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