When it comes to Japan, there is no shortage of interesting and meaningful souvenirs to buy. From quirky and frivolous to practical and useful, there's something for everyone. Below we have whittled down the options to eight affordable, memorable and authentic Japanese goods that will serve as wonderful keepsakes to remind you of your adventures in Japan.
table of contents
8 Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Back From Your Visit to Japan
Photo by DrObjektiff/Shutterstock
Origami is the art of paper folding into an infinite number of representative forms. It begun in Japan sometime around the 6th century when Buddhist monks introduced paper from China. Initially limited to use for religious purposes due to the high cost of the paper, it gradually evolved into its modern recreational form that can now be enjoyed by people of all ages and orientations.
When it comes to the paper used for origami, you can definitely consider Japan a mecca. Walk into almost any arts and crafts or 100 yen store and spread before you will be such a wide variety of paper to chose from you might not know where to begin. From smooth to textured, matte to metallic and plain to incredibly intricate, there is something for every taste and design you can think of.
After you've stocked up on your paper, you can find lots of free online resources to guide you along as you begin creating your wonderful folded paper sculptures.
Japanese Rice Crackers
Photo by Studio 400/Shutterstock
Japanese rice crackers, locally known as senbei, are a popular and traditional Japanese snack made from glutinous and non-glutinous rice flour. They are light and crispy and come in a multitude of shapes and flavors, sometimes sweet, but more often savory. You can find senbei almost everywhere - from your local 7/11 to somewhat more upscale establishments. As they are very reasonably priced, easy to find, authentic, and well-packaged, they make a great edible gift to take back home with you.
Photo by enchanted_fairy/Shutterstock
If your trip to Japan involves a visit to a shrine or temple, you're most likely to come across a variety of omamori or lucky charms being sold somewhere around the grounds. These tiny hand-made silk bags contain a prayer wrapped inside, and are believed to bring various forms of good luck and fortune to the bearer such as success, love, good grades, and safe childbirth.
Omamori come dangling on a thin but sturdy string which you can use to attach the charm to your bag, phone, or anywhere else you like. They're made in a variety of delightful patterns and colors depending on where they are purchased. Some will even have stitched onto them popular Japanese characters such as Hello Kitty and Doraemon. They make an excellent and meaningful gift to remind your loved ones back home you were still thinking of them while away.
Japanese Potato Chips
Photo by Yoshi0511/Shutterstock
The fact that countless blog posts have been devoted to the topic of Japanese potato chips alone serves as reassurance that this category of product makes for a fantastic edible-souvenir to take home. What's most exciting about chips in Japan in particular is the array of fun and highly unconventional flavors available. These flavors are either standard, seasonal or limited to a certain area or period - the latter increasing the chances of finding something truly exclusive and unique to take home.
Unusual flavors you'll often find include soy sauce and mayonnaise, cod roe and butter, seaweed and salt, wasabi and beef and pickled plum. Some of the limited edition flavors have included chocolate, squid and carrot, fizzy cola and takoyaki (octopus grilled in a flour-based batter).
If you're unsure which brand to buy, Japan's Calbee is one of the major players in potato chips and can be found all over the country with a huge variety of flavors.
Photo by yoshi0511/Shutterstock
Yukata are a traditional Japanese garment worn by men and women during the summer. Although they resemble kimonos yukata are much more comfortable as they are made using a light, unlined fabric such as cotton. They're also relatively cheap depending on where you buy them and come in a variety of dazzling colors and patterns. They are wildly popular locally, and also among tourists, and make for a splendid Japanese souvenir to take home for yourself or to gift your family and friends.
Wagasa (Oil-Paper Umbrellas)
Photo by Ubonwanu/Shutterstock
Wagasa, or Japanese oil-paper umbrellas are almost all the products of master craftsmen who have been in the trade for years. These elegant, simple and delicate umbrellas are made using natural materials such as bamboo, wood, washi paper, lacquer, cashew nut juice, glue and oil. While no longer widely used in the country, they remain just popular enough to keep the incredible skill, devotion and art of making them alive. It's a perfectly beautiful and useful keepsake to remind you of your time in Japan.
Japanese Camellia Oil
Photo by High Mountain/Shutterstock
Extracted from the seeds of the camellia japonica flower which blooms in winter, Japanese camellia or Tsubaki oil, has been a beauty staple in Japan for centuries. Geisha were known to use it to maintain beautiful skin, but it is versatile enough to be used on the scalp, hair and nails as well. Being rich in antioxidants, vitamins and omega 3, 6 and 9, this odorless, multi-purpose oil is a perfect souvenir for health and beauty aficionados. 100% cold-pressed camellia oil and other high quality camellia based cosmetics can be found in popular drugstores all across the country.
Japanese Kitchen Knives
Photo by nioloxs/Shutterstock
Masterfully forged, Japanese kitchen knives or wabocho are now widely recognized as being some of the best available in the culinary world. The techniques used for making the knives are derived from the ancient art of sword making and have since been passed down from generation to generation. These single bevel knives come in a variety of lengths and styles, each one designed for a particular type of food or method of cutting. There are also simpler and cheaper varieties available for first-time users. They make the perfect Japanese gift to take back for the professional or home cooks in your life.
When packing for your next trip to Japan, it might be advisable to pack light. That way you will have plenty of space left over to store all the interesting, cheap and wonderful souvenirs available for purchase all over the country. From colorful lucky charms to novelty snacks and high-quality traditional crafts, there is something for everyone in the Land of the Rising Sun.