10 Things to Buy When Visiting Japan

When traveling abroad, do you ever get the feeling all souvenirs come from the same source and can easily be purchased in the U.S. or online?

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That surely isn’t the case in Japan. Known for their sleek design and detail, Japanese high quality products are much easier to find in Japan. And to give Japan a real celebrity endorsement, it is worth noting that Steve Jobs was a huge fan of Japanese goods: from famous black turtlenecks by Isay Miyake to furniture by Nakashima.

  1. Tenugui

Tenugui is one of the most popular souvenirs you can buy in Japan, an object with so many uses that it is definitely a must have. Tenugui is a thin rectangular cotton towel, about 90cm long, printed with various patterns (geometrical, floral or ukiyo-e). It can be used as a towel, worn as a headband, used to wrap gifts or to decorate the room as a table cloth or a tapestry. Popular among fashionistas and utilitarians.

Japanese tenugui 2

  1. Cat Goods

If you’re a cat lover or you’re shopping for someone else who loves cats, Japan is the right place for you. Cat mugs, cat earphones, cat phone cases—Japan is cat crazy!

Japanese cat souvenirs 2

  1. Japanese Kitchen Knife

Another item that can be of great use in the home kitchen is the traditional Japanese knife. Actually, there are two types of traditional Japanese knifes, the honyaki forged knives, made entirely of one material (high-carbon steel) and kasumi, made from two materials, like the famous samurai swords. Regardless of the method of fabrication, the Japanese knives are considered the best in the world, so every cook wishes to have one guaranteed that it’s made in Japan.

  1. Japanese Pottery & Porcelain

One of the country’s oldest art forms dating back to the Neolithic Period, Japanese pottery and porcelain make for wonderful souvenirs. There are about 18 major styles of Japanese pottery, many of them with multiple sub-styles, so a huge variety of Japanese pottery and porcelain is available, some produced by master potters after century old techniques, some more modern or reconstructing Chinese styles. You have a lot of options, so you can select to suit your own preference.

Japanese porcelain

  1. Matcha Tea Sets

Matcha is the well known finely-milled Japanese green tea used at the Japanese tea ceremony. A set of matcha accessories must include the matcha bowls, the natsume tea caddies, the furuimatcha sifter, the chashaku scoops, the chasen bamboo tea whisk and the kusenaoshi whisk keepers.

If this seems too much, buy at least a chasen bamboo tea whisk, you simply cannot make matcha without it.

Japanese BambooWhisk80_B03

  1. Folding Fans

Don’t cheap out, get a real, high-quality folding fan made out of genuine Japanese fabrics and wood.

Japanese fans

  1. Clever Japanese designs

A cup and saucer that dance together like a match made in heaven. But when separated, the music suddenly stops.

A reflective palladium surface on the cups enable this magic. The vivid colors on the saucer are reflected off the cup, producing the illusion that the cup too bears the same pattern. But when the cup is lifted off the saucer its true colors are revealed.

Made from Hasami porcelain, a specialty from the Hakata region, each cup is handmade by skilled artisans who ensure that the surfaces are completely even. After all, even the slightest scratch would create distortions throughout the reflection.

Japanese clever design

  1. Omamori

Omamori are Japanese amulets dedicated to Shinto deities and Buddhist figures. It is said to bring good luck to the person who wears it. The gakugyō-jōju is a specific kind of omamori for students and scholars for good luck with education and passing examinations.

Japanese Omamori

  1. Chopsticks

If you’re a fan of Asian food and love the challenge of eating with chopsticks, get yourself some high-quality Japanese chopsticks to fit in with the locals.

  1. Stationary

Another souvenir you will want to take home with you is Japanese stationary. Choose from traditional, cutesy, or modern designs. Pens, pencils, paper stationery, notebooks—so many options to choose from. Get as much as you can, as this is one of the more affordable items on this list.  

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Japanese stationary


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