30 Must-Buy Souvenirs in Japan: Cosmetics, Stationery, Lifestyle Goods, Electronics, Sweets, and More!
Picking the perfect souvenir can be a fun part of any holiday. Japan is full of amazing gifts, from local sweets to affordable cosmetics, high-quality and ingenious lifestyle goods, and more. In fact, the amount of choice can leave travelers wondering just what to pick. This article will introduce 30 great and highly recommended Japanese souvenirs, from well-known classics to some hidden gems. Bookmark this page for when you're souvenir shopping to bring back some thoughtful gifts that will delight your friends and family!
Nov 19 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
Cosmetics and Drugstore Goods
1. Ishizawa Lab | Keana Nadeshiko Rice Masks
Keana Nadeshiko Rice Masks come with a serum made from 100% domestic rice. These masks work to moisturize the skin, leaving you with a hydrated and plump feel. The serum is readily absorbed into the skin and works to refine its texture, so the masks are also useful for treating enlarged pores. They are an ideal, uniquely Japanese gift.
2. UZU by Flowfushi | Eye Opening Liner
UZU by Flowfushi Eye Opening Liner uses a Yamato Takumi brush made with traditional techniques by artisans from the famous brush-making areas of Kumano (an area situated within southern Wakayama and Mie Prefectures) and Nara. This eyeliner is also formulated with WP Film, which was developed using cutting-edge Japanese technology to resist sweat and sebum while also being easily removable with warm water. This line's wide color range is another reason why it has won over many fans.
3. Biore UV | Athlizm
This sunscreen became the talk of the town when it was released thanks to the fact that it claimed to be the strongest sunscreen available, with a formulation that can resist sweat, moisture, and hold up in extremely hot and humid climates. The sunscreen's Skin Protect Essence is cleanly absorbed for a smooth finish, and its moisturizing ingredients makes it gentle on the skin. It is also easy to remove with regular soap or cleanser, and is ideal for jogging, sports, or for other outdoor activities like trips to the beach.
4. FASIO | Powerful Film Mascara (Long)
This film-type mascara resists running and smudging, but can be removed with warm water. Its quick dry formulation instantly locks in your curl and maintains the finish for around 10 hours. The super-fine brush easily catches even the shortest lashes, giving you an impressively lengthened and curled finish that makes the lashes pop.
5. Shiseido | Ag DEO 24 Powder Spray (Unscented)
This deodorant spray can be used on the whole body, whether it be the underarms, chest, or back. It kills the bacteria that causes body odor, and can be used by both men and women. There are many deodorant sprays out there, but we particularly recommend Ag DEO 24. Having sold around 200 million units from 2001 to 2018, this excellent deodorant has been a smash hit. It's formulated with sweat-absorbing powder which keeps you feeling fresh and comfortable for up to 24 hours, and its highly adhesive formulation means that it clings to the skin to resist wearing away as you move.
6. Santen Pharmaceutical | Sante PC
Continual exposure to blue light from smartphones and computer monitors means that people today tend to suffer from tired eyes. Sante PC are high-quality eye drops that help treat damage caused by blue light. They're formulated with ingredients to help eye strain and inflammation, so they're a useful item to have on hand if you spend the day looking at your phone and PC. Their mild cooling sensation also feels refreshing on tired eyes.
7. Nichiban | Roihi Tsuboko
These warming, stick-on patches help boost circulation and relieve aches and pain like stiff shoulders, back pain, and sprains. The area you apply these to gradually warms and creates a tingling sensation that can be effective for helping treat pain at its core. An ingredient called nonivamide, which has a similar makeup to capsaicin found in chili peppers, is responsible for improving the flow of blood to the target area. The stimulating sensation these patches create is sure to have you hooked!
8. Ryukakusan | Direct Stick
Ryukakusan Direct Stick is a herbal medicine formula made with fine particles that adhere to the throat's membranes to relieve the pain and discomfort of a sore throat. These are great when you feel a cold coming on, and they're also effective for any discomfort that comes from breathing dry air. Made with a sugar-free formulation, this medicine loses its effectiveness if taken with water, so be sure to take it on its own.
9. Kobayashi Pharmaceutical | Sakamu Care Liquid Bandage
Live free from the pain of hangnails and cracked skin! Sakamu Care is a liquid bandage that can be applied to form a protective layer over chapped or cracked skin, hangnails, or small cuts and scratches. The bandage is water resistant, so it keeps the wound clean and dry while washing dishes or in the bath. The liquid bandage is also clear, so it's less noticeable than a regular band-aid.
10. Taisho Pharmaceutical | Stomatitis Patch Quick Care
Having a mouth ulcer makes eating and drinking a pain, which is why these ulcer patches are such a lifesaver. Just apply one of the round sticker-shaped patches to the area for instant relief. The patches help relieve the pain of the ulcer while the ingredients work to help heal it, so it's like killing two birds with one stone. These can be used on aphthous stomatitis ulcers, which are the type with white edges and a depression in the middle.
Electronics and Lifestyle Goods
1. Nakabayashi | Lifestyle Tool Box
This handy tool box helps organize all the bits and pieces on your desk like scissors, glue, pens, and rulers. The great thing about this item is that it looks cute when you're using it, but when you're done, you can fold it up into its own storage box, making it neat and easy to use. There's a wide range of styles and colors to choose from, so you won't have to worry about whether or not it'll fit in with the style of your room. You can also use these boxes for storing cosmetics and other small items, so you're really only limited by your imagination.
2. Green Note
Green Note was developed for people with visual conditions like oxyopia that makes text on white paper harder to see due to the paper's reflectivity. The pale green color of the paper in these notebooks is gentler on the eyes, reducing the amount of light reflected back to help users see their writing more clearly. These notebooks are great for those with visual conditions as well as anyone who feels eye strain when using white paper.
3. Kobayashi Pharmaceutical | Stain Remover
Spilling food on your favorite outfit is a huge downer, but this stain remover (known in Japanese as "Shimitori Na") can help. There are three types formulated for different types of stains: a type for curry, ketchup, and dressings; a type for soy sauce and other sauces, coffee, and blood; and a type for lipstick and foundation. The portable sheet types are useful for keeping on hand in case of an emergency.
4. Earth Pharmaceuticals | Black Cap
Just thinking about cockroaches living in your home might give you goosebumps, but Earth Pharmaceuticals Black Cap can round them up for you. The quick-working active ingredient, fipronil, exterminates cockroaches the day they eat the bait. This ingredient also works to kill the eggs of any cockroaches that eat the bait, so they help curb their typical explosive colony growth. This product keeps working for a year, so the fact that you don't need to keep buying replacements is another useful feature.
5. Iris Ohyama | Super Suction Futon Cleaner
This high-powered futon (mattress) cleaner is able to eliminate over 98% of household dust. It's said that the dust and mites found in bedding can cause allergies, so you definitely want to keep your bed as clean as possible. In Japan, it's common to hang your blankets outside and beat them to remove dust and mites. This cleaner has a High Speed Beat Function that's said to equate to beating the blanket 6,500 times per minute, loosening and removing the dust trapped in the fibers of the fabric. The easy to understand "visibly clean" sensor helps get your blankets so clean, you might not recognize them after!
6. Dyson | Pure Cool Me Personal Purifying Fan
This two-in-one Dyson fan and air filter delivers cool, purified air by capturing pollen, mold, and PM 0.1 level particles with a combination activated charcoal and glass HEPA filter. Changing the filter is simple, so maintenance isn't a hassle, either. Dyson's typically stylish design is another great feature.
7. SHARP | Healsio Hot Cook
This handy device automatically cooks your meal for you. All you need to do is add your ingredients and press a button. Dishes like stews and pork and beans that tend to burn on the bottom of the saucepan unless you carefully keep an eye on the temperature turn out deliciously with none of the hassle using this pot. The Hot Cook pot can also handle waterless cooking, so you can cook vegetables without losing the nutrients.
8. iRobot | Roomba i7+
Roomba is an automatic vacuum cleaner that takes the hassle out of cleaning your floors. The i7+ version can automatically empty itself after cleaning, simplifying the cleaning process even further. The Roomba can remember the layout of your furniture and the state of each room so that its movement around the house is as smooth as possible. This Roomba is also Wi-Fi enabled, so you can operate it even while you're away from home.
9. PILOT | Frixion Series
The Frixion series is an erasable pen line from Pilot, a brand synonymous with Japanese stationery. The ink in these extremely useful pens can be cleanly erased using an eraser on the end. The Frixion Ball Knock (pictured) is the most common type, but the range's neon-colored pens and highlighters, colored pencils, and stamps have also been gaining popularity. Both highly practical and affordable, this range makes for ideal souvenirs.
10. Panasonic | Ion Effector
With a range of modes including a skin clarifying mode, moisturizing mode, and a feature that helps boost the absorption of vitamin C, this beauty device delivers a level of care that feels like a salon treatment in your own home. This device can help your skincare ingredients reach deeper layers of the skin for a supple and moisturized finish. This item would be perfect as a gift for any beauty fans, whether it be family, friends, or just for you!
Sweets and Snacks
1. Nestle | KITKAT
The world-famous KitKat—comprised of long, rectangular wafer layers covered in a chocolate coating—is a very popular choice as a souvenir in Japan. Of course, KitKats are sold all around the world, but Japan has many exclusive flavors such as matcha and sake, as well as a huge range of regional and limited edition varieties. A popular type to purchase as a souvenir is KitKat Chocolatory, a luxury version that comes packaged with individually-boxed sticks. Don't miss trying the Sublime Bitter type, made with richly aromatic, high-quality couverture chocolate.
2. Maruka Foods | Setouchi Lemon-Flavored Ikaten
This snack is based after the popular Japanese snack, ikaten (squid tempura), and was a huge hit back when lemons suddenly became extremely popular in Japan thanks to Hiroshima, Japan's biggest lemon-producing area. Made with Hiroshima-grown lemons, the fresh flavor of this snack is definitely addictive. Its zip-lock packaging is also handy if you can't eat the whole bag in one go.
3. i factory | Umeboshi Sheet
The i factory Umeboshi Sheets are strips of rolled-out umeboshi (salt-pickled Japanese plums). The sweet and sour flavor is really addictive, and they're also useful as a salt supplement in the summer. Keep these on hand for a boost when you feel your energy dip.
4. Meiji | THE Chocolate
Meiji THE Chocolate is a dark milk chocolate made with a cocoa mix that creates a bright aroma and fruity flavor. We recommend letting this chocolate melt on the tongue so that you can really savor the perfectly-balanced bitter and sweet flavors. The blue type is called Comfort Bitter, with cacao and nuts for a rich and savory accent. The orange type is Elegant Bitter with the bright, fruity flavor inherent to cocoa. The red is Velvet Milk, with a complex milk and nut flavor, and purple is Sunny Milk, which is characterized by an acidic cocoa and milk flavor. These are great as a treat for yourself or as a souvenir from Japan. The stylish packaging gives these a special touch that's so pretty, you might be tempted to keep them on display!
5. papabubble | Candy
Originating from Barcelona, papabubble candy stores allow you to see craftspeople make candy right in front of your eyes. Seeing the way the candy starts as a thick rod that's gradually worked to become finer and finer before ending up as cute candy pieces is a highlight of a visit here.
The way the candy melts in the mouth with a mild aroma and refined sweetness has earned papabubble many fans. With a jewel-like sparkle, these candies are so cute, it might seem like a waste to eat them. papabubble often has special collaborations with popular characters, so don't miss checking them out as well.
6. Sucrey | Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory
Tokyo Cheese Milk Factory's cookies, which consist of cheese-flavored chocolate filling sandwiched between langue de chat cookies, has earned this brand plenty of attention as a Tokyo souvenir. The signature flavor is Salt and Camembert type, featuring cookies made with fresh Hokkaido milk and French Guérande salt with a camembert cheese chocolate filling. The richness of the cheese flavor might surprise you! Other flavors include Honey and Gorgonzola and Porcino and Gouda. Each cookie is individually-wrapped, which makes them great as a souvenir to share with a group.
7. Ogura Sansou | Ogura Yamashunju
Senbei, or Japanese rice crackers, are perfect if you're looking for a traditional Japanese snack as a souvenir. Ogura Sansou's Ogura Yamashunju consists of individual packs containing eight small arare (roasted mochi pieces), which are presented in a box beautifully designed to depict the four seasons in Kyoto. The variety of crackers, from shrimp and seaweed to black bean and sesame, all have different textures and flavors to enjoy. Senbei are a very traditional snack, and in Japan, they make a souvenir that the older generations particularly love.
For a broader introduction to all the types of distinctively Japanese sweets that you should try out, check out our article here! Includes cakes and jellies, as well as drier crackers and fried items.
8. Instant Versions of Famous Restaurants' Ramen
Ramen is beloved all over the world, and in Japan, it's a national food that would be unthinkable to live without! There are popular ramen restaurants all over Japan, but unfortunately, even if you visit on holiday, there's a limit to how many types you can try. If you're a ramen fan, we recommend checking out the affordable instant types available at convenience stores and supermarkets. In recent years, many famous ramen restaurants have been creating instant versions of their ramen, so you can enjoy their authentic flavors at home.
9. Takara Shuzo | Shochikubai Shirakabegura Mio
If you're curious to try Japanese sake but it seems a little strong, we recommend giving this bright blue bottle of Mio a try. This sparkling sake has refreshing bubbles and the natural faint sweetness of rice, making it easy to drink and delicious when paired with food. Its alcohol content is 5%, while normal sake is around 15%, so even light drinkers can savor a glass.
10. Francais | Fruit Mille-Feuille
With strawberry, lemon, pistachio, and gianduja, Francais Mille-Feuille recently shone at the 2019 JR East Japan Omiyage Grand Prix. The strawberry flavor features a strawberry cream with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity sandwiched between puff pastry and coated in white chocolate with a strawberry powder topping. The lemon flavor has a fresh, fragrant, and tart lemon cream filling accented with aromatic lemon peel that's sandwiched between puff pastry and covered with a lemon-flavored chocolate coating. The pistachio flavor has a deep pistachio-flavored filling inside puff pastry and is covered in a sweet chocolate coating. Its luxurious pistachio aroma and complex flavor lingers in the mouth. Finally, the gianduja flavor combines a fragrant and rich almond and hazelnut filling in puff pastry with a milk chocolate coating for an impressively balanced sweet and fresh flavor. The delicious flavors, light texture, and picture-perfect design have all been keys to the success of this sweet.
Find the Perfect Japanese Souvenir!
Have any of these souvenirs caught your eye? We've recommended quite a few, so why not make a list of ones to pick up before your trip? Planning in advance will mean you can get all your picks without wasting any precious sightseeing time!
* Prices are accurate as of September 2019.
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.