Pile of souvenirs from Japan on a terracotta floor. The souvenirs include Air Jordans, matcha candies, a bento box, a Pokémon t-shirt, face masks, shampoo, eyeglasses, bathbombs, and pens.

Souvenirs from Japan – What We Brought Back

Konnichiwa!  I just got back from a 10-day trip to Japan with my elementary age son.  Pre-trip, I enjoyed reading about what others brought back from Japan, so here’s our list!

But before I give it to you, here are a few tips to help you decide what to buy in Japan:

  • Get what’s best for your family.  It doesn’t matter if every other family traveling to Japan buys Pokémon cards and stuffed animals.  If your family isn’t into Pokémon, skip it!  Do your kids love origami?  Stock up on origami paper in beautiful colors, designs, and sizes!
    Examples from our trip: I adore Japanese ceramic dishware and gorgeous chopsticks, but at this moment in our family’s life, breakable dishes aren’t a good idea!  And, I’m the only family member who enjoys using chopsticks.  I also love the traditional yakuta while in Japan, but I realized I wouldn’t wear it at home.
  • You can’t go wrong with consumables.  Think snacks, pens, and stationary.  They all can be used up and won’t be something else on a shelf to dust for the rest of your life (but of course, if you love figurines for your shelves – go for it!).
  • Practical souvenirs are also winners.  I brought back Japanese knives and prescription glasses on this trip.  They’ll be used daily and I’ll be reminded of our trip to Japan.
  • Make a list before your trip.  It may seem silly now, but I found it helpful to have a list of who we wanted to bring something back for, along with ideas for that person.  Otherwise, it’s a bit overwhelming!  I also marked on my list (made in Notes on my phone) when we purchased something for someone.

What We Bought in Japan

Child's hand holds up Japanese Pokemon cards.
My son was thrilled to bring home Pokémon cards from the source!

Keep in mind, this isn’t an exhaustive list.  These are just the items that we brought back for our family and friends. 

  • Japanese candy and snacks – This was one of our favorite things to shop for in Japan. We loved the character snacks (like Super Mario gummies), Pocky, matcha-flavored treats, Hi-Chews, rice crackers, and seaweed snacks. 
  • Japanese food – Shichimi togarashi (the 7-spice mix you find on tables at casual places like an izakaya), jarred pickled vegetables
  • Eyeglasses – I did an in-store eye exam at Jins and bought two pairs of glasses for a fraction of what I’d pay at home
  • Bath bombs – There are so many fun ones to choose from!  Heads Up:  Some of them have small toys in them that could be choking hazards.
  • T-shirts – We picked up a high-quality Daruma Ojico t-shirt in terminal 3 at the Haneda airport, and we also bought Pikachu t-shirts at Uniqlo.
  • Knives – Two chef’s knives (one for me and one for my son, when he moves out of the house and has his own kitchen) and a whetstone from Kappabashi in Tokyo
  • Toiletries – Lululun facemasks, Rosette ceramide face cream, Senka face wash, Tsubaki shampoo and conditioner, lip balms, lip stick, nail polish, nail clippers and cuticle cutters; from multiple drug stores
  • Medicine – mosquito bite patches (with the clown), mosquito repellent spray for kids, mosquito balm, hot patches, fun band-aids; from multiple drug stores
  • Tamagotchi UNI – For my two youngest kids
  • Nintendo Switch games and accessories – From Yodobashi Akiba and Bic Camera
  • Hiroshima Carp baseball cap – From New Era shop in Tokyo
  • Pokémon cards – From the Pokémon Center in Shibuya and a small shop in Kyoto
  • Michael Jordan gear – Sneakers and jerseys from the Jordan World of Flight in Shibuya
  • Japanese Yen coins – Especially the 5 and 50 pieces with the holes in the center.  My son also bought a few old coins at a shop in the Asakusa neighborhood in Tokyo.
  • Gachapon toys – Some of my least favorite souvenirs, as many of them are ‘junky’ pieces that will get trashed, but my son had a blast at the machines; we’ll use the fun coin purses
  • Chopsticks and bento box
  • Erasers – For classmates; in the shape of a Daruma doll
  • Pens and notebooks – Japan has the best pens on the planet!  I brought home some for me and my kids.  We also brought back mechanical pencils, erasers, beautiful notebooks, and Frixion erasable pens.  We got most from Tokyu Hands, and some from the Kokuyo Doors stationary store at the Haneda Airport (Terminal 3).
  • Umbrella – We bought one of the ubiquitous clear plastic umbrellas and carried it all over Japan, and then back home with us.

Our Favorite Souvenirs From Our Trip to Japan

Hand holds a Japanese knife against a stone wall.
My new chef’s knife from Kappabashi in Tokyo

I’m most excited about my new chef’s knife.  It’s gorgeous, comfortable to use, and it will remind me of our trip on a daily basis.

My son who came on the trip picks his new Nintendo Switch controller as his favorite souvenir, because he said he’d never seen it before our Japan trip.

My other sons were thrilled with the Japanese snacks, the yen coins, and the bath bombs.

My husband has been sporting his Hiroshima Carp baseball cap.

Where to Buy Souvenirs in Japan

Boy and woman stand at glass counter full of coins and stamps in a shop in Tokyo, Japan.
My son, shopping for Japanese coins

We ended up buying our Japanese souvenirs from:

  • Boutiques and shops – one of a kind, local goods
  • Don Quijote – a little bit of everything (food, toiletries, knick-knacks)
  • Drug stores
  • Shopping streets – like Asakusa’s Nakamise shopping street in Tokyo
  • Combini (convenience stores) – 7-11, Lawson, and Family Mart are the main chains
  • Museums, Themed Centers, Amusement Parks – USJ, DisneySea, Pokémon Center, teamLab Borderless
  • Kappabashi Street – kitchenware heaven!

Tips for Shopping for Souvenirs in Japan

  • Take advantage of tax-free shopping in Japan.  Carry your passport with you (you need it for tax-free).  Save up your shopping when possible so you can get tax-free (you’re required to spend 5,000 Yen at one time).  You can’t use the items in Japan, so they’re sealed in plastic bags.  You can ask to have them put into two or three bags to make packing easier.  If you make any tax-free purchases at the airport after checking your bags, have your liquids bagged separately for when you go through security.
  • Have a list of souvenir ideas and who you’re shopping for.  Shopping in Japan can be a little overwhelming.  Stay organized with a note on your phone or a handwritten list.
  • Be realistic about what you’ll use and wear at home.
  • Think about buying consumable souvenirs for others.  For example, bring Kit-Kats back for your friends vs. a Japanese figurine or painting (unless you’re sure they’d love it).
  • You probably won’t be able to combine payment methods.  I tried to do this a few times (SUICA + credit card or coins + credit card) and was never allowed to do so.
  • Make room in your luggage for your ‘musts.’  I already wish I’d brought back more face masks!
  • Pack light and bring an extra duffle.  We had half of our carry-ons empty on arrival and my empty space was filled with a Patagonia duffle bag.
  • Give kids some souvenir shopping independence.  I added a little bit extra to my son’s SUICA so he do some souvenir shopping and budget his yen.

Happy shopping in Japan!  Let me know what you bring back!

Looking for more on travel to Japan? Check out
9 Reasons to Visit Japan with Kids
Packing List for 10 Days in Japan with a 9-Year-Old
Souvenirs from Japan – What We Brought Back

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