Konnichiwa, fellow travellers! Are you planning on visiting the Land of the Rising Sun? 🇯🇵 Everyone knows that Japan captivates visitors with its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and delightful culinary experiences. But that's not all! Japan is also a treasure trove of unique and iconic items that you simply cannot resist bringing back home. In this article, we will unveil the top 10 must-buy items that you won't find anywhere else. So, grab your shopping bags and get ready for a treasure hunt to find the most iconic things to buy in Japan! ✨
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1. Personalised chopsticks
The first on our list has definitely got to be personalised Japanese chopsticks! You can choose from many different designs, type of wood, and even length. You can get professional advice on what length of chopsticks suit you the best. One such place where you can get this service in Tokyo is at Nihonbo Chopstick Store in Hiroo! Even locals come to visit seasonally to get new chopsticks for their children (they say its important to get the proper length of chopsticks to help them eat well!).
P.S. Make sure to check out their extensive variety of Hashi Oki (chopstick holders) during your visit.
2. Traditional Yukata
If you're already immersing yourself in the enchanting world of Japanese culture, you might as well get your hands on a stunning Yukata. These lightweight and intricately designed cotton kimonos are perfect for strolling through historic streets or attending summer festivals! With a variety of vibrant patterns and colours, you'll feel like a true local as you embrace the elegance and grace of traditional Japanese attire even when you're not in Japan! These Yukata sets can range from a SGD59 to SGD200++
Where to buy: Supermarkets (for budget-friendly Yukata), streets of Harajuku
3. Japanese Tea and Tea Sets
Grab a couple of Japan's most iconic flavours in the form of tea sets! It's no secret that Japan is renowned for its high-quality teas, such as matcha and sencha. Visit tea houses or specialty shops to find a wide selection of teas and beautifully crafted tea sets. A sip of Japanese tea will transport you back to serene gardens and ancient rituals once you're back to the usual hustle and bustle of city life!
Where to buy: Specialty tea shops, cafes, supermarkets
4. Traditional Ceramics and Pottery
Japanese ceramics are renowned worldwide for their exquisite craftsmanship and delicate beauty. From delicate porcelain to rustic earthenware, you'll find a vast array of pottery treasures. Whether it's a graceful tea cup, a decorative vase, or a practical dish, these unique pieces will infuse your home with the spirit of Japan!
Where to buy: Craft stores, specialty pottery stores
5. Origami Paper and Kits
If you or someone you love enjoys origami and art, here's a souvenir idea that you'll love! Unleash your creativity with the captivating art of origami. Pick up a pack of intricately designed origami paper and discover the joy of folding paper into beautiful shapes. From cranes to flowers, they say that each creation is a work of art that reflects the patience and precision of Japanese craftsmanship.
Where to buy: Stationary shops
6. Handmade fans
Known to be a symbol of elegance and grace, traditional Japanese fans are a must-buy when you visit Japan. Choose from an array of designs, from delicate silk folding fans to hand-painted Uchiwa fans. Not only are they practical on hot summer days, but they also make for beautiful decorative pieces that will remind you of your unforgettable Japanese adventure!
Where to buy: Old school stores
Ready for a fun story to accompany your meal? Once upon a time, an old woman went to the riverside to wash clothes. She then found a peach on the river. She took it home to show her husband. At home, she tried to cut the peach in half but suddenly, a boy came out! They called the boy Momotaro. Momotaro grew up strong, powerful, and kind. One day Momotaro heard about the ogres on Onigashima (Ogres' Island) and decided to fight them off. His parents prepared some millet dumplings for Momotaro to eat on his journey and saw him off. To cut the story short, kibi-dango is the food that Momotaro took on his adventures. Cute eh? Explains a lot about the cute packaging too! The kibi-dango is individually wrapped and it’ll definitely make perfect souvenirs!
Kibi basically means millet and the best thing is that the kibi-dango produced by Koeido Confectionary is certified halal!
Where to find: Bakeries, mochi stores, supermarkets
8. Higashi (dry confectionery)
Credit: Just Love Japan on Facebook
Higashi, like any other candy, is sold by many different brands with different levels of quality. However, if you're seeking for a higher quality higashi made purely from Wasanbon (Chinese sugarcane, with a different taste and umami compared to others that are made of ordinary sugarcane), we would recommend “Baiko-do” in Kagawa Prefecture. You can find Baiko-do in the Kagawa Prefecture and Setouchi Shunsai-kan (name of the store) in Tokyo, or even in malls throughout Japan.
HHWT Tip: Higashi is dry and has very little moisture, making the shelf life of this sweet relatively longer. Stock up as this confection is rarely found outside Japan and is very pleasing to the eyes too.
Where to buy: Specialty confectionary stores
Kaminariokoshi is a traditional type of rice puff that can come in various flavours. One store in Asakusa - Tokiwado Kaminari-okoshi Honpo - is actually famous for making these small snacks in a range of sweet and even savoury flavours. Best of all, the Japan Halal Foundation (JHF) declared some of the shop's products halal in 2018! Individual products that are halal have JHF's logo displayed next to them, so you'll be reassured that the one you're buying is good to go. If you're still unsure, you can ask the friendly staff!
9. Muso Castella Cake
Hailing all the way from Portugal, the castella sponge cake is a popular snack that makes for an equally popular Japanese souvenir. Now a specialty of Nagasaki, keep an eye out for the halal-certified castella cake from Muso Castella in order to experience a fluffy treat that is full of flavour.
Where to buy: Muso Castella
10. Omamori - Lucky Charms
If you didn't know, Omamori are traditional Japanese amulets and they're super popular among the locals! These charming little pouches are available at temples and shrines throughout the country. They are believed to bring good luck and protection to the owner. From finding love to passing exams, there's an Omamori for every wish and desire. Carry this talisman with you, and let the positive vibes accompany you wherever you go!
Where to buy: Shrines, temples, old-school stores
From traditional charms to modern pop culture treasures, each item will hold a special place in your heart and remind you of the incredible experiences you had in this beautiful country. So, get ready to embrace the unique and vibrant spirit of Japan through these must-buy items that you won't find anywhere else. Happy shopping, and enjoy your adventure! Sayonara!