If you are traveling to Japan you may be wondering what are the things you should buy? Japan is well-known for its quirky inventions, cutting-edge technology, and amazing food.
Before I went on my whirlwind 10 day trip to Japan last December, I was very excited about getting my hands on some of Japan’s more unusual products . Alas, I didn’t come across a “sleeping dome indoors head tent” while in Japan, however, I did see plenty of amazing things and brought back some fantastic souvenirs.
Here are 10 things that I purchased in Japan and absolutely loved. Most were practical, some were not so practical….
For any stationery lovers out there Japan will be your holy grail. I went to Tokyo Hands in – you guessed it – Tokyo. Tokyo Hands is a multi-level household goods department store. You can find DIY stuff, crafts, tools and, my personal favourite, stationery. There is an entire level dedicated to stationery. It has everything your stationery heart could ever desire. Stickers, stamps, journals, diaries, pens, pens and more pens. AH-MAZ-ING. I spent about 2 hours in there but could have happily spent longer.
2. Disney everything
Japan is a great place for all you Disney addicts to stock up on your Disney merch. Even if you don’t go to Tokyo Disneyland (but seriously why on earth wouldn’t you?) there are plenty of shops around the major cities where you can pick up cheap and unique Disney items. I thought that there was a great variety of items, especially at DisneySea. Comparing it to my trip to Disney World in 2012, I felt like DisneySea had a bigger selection of items (and a lot of really practical stuff too!). I picked up some super cute Minnie Mouse kitchen utensils and a duster! From now on dusting and ladelling will never be a chore.
You can pick up plenty of high quality and cute socks in Japan. I purposely went to Japan with not enough socks because I knew I wanted to buy some over there. The Japanese love anything that is “kawaii” (cute) which is why you’ll find socks that have been rolled and folded to look like sushi (one of the many reasons why Japan is awesome).
4. Weird KitKat Flavours
Nearly everyone knows that Japan is THE place to go for all of your weird and one-of-a-kind KitKat flavours. You’ll have to shop around to find them, as most places I came across only seemed to stock Green Tea and Sake KitKats. I was in a small grocery store in Osaka when I hit the jackpot and found a number of different flavours. By the end of the trip, I had scavenged the following: Pumpkin, Purple Sweet Potato, Strawberry Cheesecake, Creme Brulee and Cranberry and Almond KitKats! All of which were delicious. These make a great gift to give to friends and family.
5. DIY Food Kits
This was one of the weirder things that I bought in Japan. In a shop called Kiddy Land (an absolute must visit!) there are DIY food kits that include ingredients and instructions to make miniature food. They had a bunch of meals to choose from. I picked up a pizza kit, a hamburger kit and a doughnut kit. I thought that these made food-shapped gummy lollies (like those Trolli lollies ) but I was shocked when I got home and made my miniature hamburger only to find that it ACTUALLY TASTED LIKE A HAMBURGER! MIND BLOWN!
6. Beauty products
People who are into beauty and skincare will be happy to know that Japan produces many high-quality beauty products. Japanese consumers value products that care for the look and feel of their skin and therefore products tend to have more natural ingredients in them. Facial sheet masks are an extremely popular product to buy in Japan. They sit on the top of your face and many of them have cute patterns on them. Who doesn’t want to look like a panda, tiger or Hello Kitty while having a facial? You can also find some weirder beauty products/inventions in Japan. I had a great time in Don Quijote puzzling over the various face/neck rollers and masks (see the ‘Chin Shape Belt’ below). Apparently, many of these items are meant to help make your face slimmer and smaller. I’m still not 100% sure that these would actually work!
If you are going to Tokyo you will have to visit the Harajuku district. It is the centre of youth culture and fashion and all of the shops are super kawaii. I walked into one shop and every item of clothing inside was pastel pink and fluffy. It was like being embraced by a giant teddy bear. Whatever your style is, you are bound to find something to suit your taste in Japan. Whether it is furry platform shoes or t-shirts covered with cats and pizza – Japan has got you covered.
Have you always wanted to find a toy of your favourite obscure cartoon character from the 80s? Well, you’re in luck because chances are you will find it in Japan. There is a toy for everything in Japan and the selection can at times be overwhelming (in the best way). Adorable plushies and small capsule toys are particularly popular to buy.
9. Cup Noodles
Japanese instant noodles are 100x better than anything I have ever had in Australia. They aren’t your typical Maggi 2 Minute Noodles. The ramen noodle cups you get in Japan have so much flavour and dehydrated goodies that they actually feel and taste like a proper meal. It’s definitely worth trying some while you are in Japan and stocking up on your favourite flavours. There is an entire museum dedicated to cup noodles in Japan, so you know it must be good!
10. Fake Food
The majority of restaurants in Japan will have displays in their windows of fake replicas of dishes on the menu. The quality of these fake models is so good that it actually looks like real food. I personally think it’s a great idea and wish that it was adopted in countries all around the world. How many times have you ordered something on the menu only for it to arrive at your table and not be at all what you expected? While I wouldn’t recommend buying a plastic replica of a bowl of ramen, because they are apparently very expensive, you can find smaller fake food models in the form of magnets, key-rings or phone covers. These make the perfect souvenir to remember this unusual aspect of Japanese food and culture.
Want to know what you should eat in Japan? Check out my post on the 10 Things You Must Eat in Japan.
For those visiting Tokyo, I highly recommend staying at the Shinjuku Granbell Hotel. It was in the perfect location in the Shinjuku district and was effortlessly cool and modern. The room we stayed in even had a loft bed!
If you are planning a trip to Japan I highly recommend the following travel guides:
- Lonely Planet Japan Travel Guide
- A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony
- Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen
What have you brought back from your travels to Japan? Share your experiences in the comments below 🙂
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