Ten gifts to bring back from Japan 日本のお土産
A classic maneki neko cat for good luck
Kompeito sugar candies
Credit: Chris Gladis
Omamori lucky charms
Credit: Hajime NAKANO
Yamazaki single malt whisky, by Suntory
Credit: Calus LAW
O-cha, Japanese green tea
Credit: Kanko from Nagasaki
Omiyage: travel memories
In Japan, the omiyage (souvenir) is a tradition. The Japanese give them to family, but also to neighbors and colleagues. What will you bring back from your trip to Japan?
Here are ten gift ideas to bring back from Japan.
1. Trinkets from the 100 yen shop
Here you'll find classic memories of your trip to Japan. Go to one of the many 100 yen shops that you see in every town, stores where everything is offered at 100 yen (less than a dollar). You'll find cheap gifts for everyone: from the kawaii (cute) to the unusual, as well as traditional objects. It's a must for those needing gifts on a budget!
2. Japanese sweets
You can find traditional sweets at department stores: magnificent boxes of wasanbon, small coloured and pressed sugar candies in the shape of animals or plants. In the same vein, konpeito stars are small multicolored sugar candies. If you're visiting southern Japan, opt for kokuto, unrefined cane sugar cubes.
3. Traditional clothes
While buying a real kimono is something reserved for the rich, you can easily acquire a yukata (light cotton kimono) or geta (wooden sandals) at a reasonable price. Or how about a jinbei?
4. Cookies and unusual sweets
Japan is the land of unusually-flavored cookies and candies: sweet potato or matcha green tea kit-kats, Japanese lemonade candy, many flavors of Pocky... Bring back some tasty surprises!
5. Votive objects
Temples and shrines in Japan are supported by donations of the faithful but also by the sale of votive objects. Among those to bring back from your trip are omamori (lucky charms) and ema, wooden plaques the Japanese write their prayers and wishes on.
6. Japanese alcohol
Many will choose sake of course, but remember that Japan also produces very good whiskey! However, avoid snake wine: it may look impressive, it's really just a tourist trap.
7. Bento goods
In Japan, they don't mess around when it comes to the bento (lunch box)! You can buy unique boxes as well as all the accessories that go with them: chopsticks, molds for eggs, nigiri molds, or nori seaweed cutters...
8. Green tea
Japan is one of the major countries of tea, especially green tea. The best known are sencha green tea, genmaicha (sencha with added roasted rice grains), matcha (powdered green tea), and hojicha (roasted green tea). Everyone should be able to find some to take home.
9. Kitchen knives
Japanese kitchen knives (hocho) are renowned worldwide for the quality of their steel, and will delight food lovers as a gift.
10. Traditional decorative objects
Many traditional decorative items can make great memories, too. Traditional kokeshi dolls, for example, a daruma who grants wishes, or the maneki-neko cats that bring fortune. Instead of a garden gnome, why not display a tanuki (racoon dog) statues?
Of course, this is just a partial list. You will also find beautiful handcrafted pieces, renowned porcelain or pretty tenugui, traditional cotton towels.