Tokyo is an amazing, busy, exciting and fun place to visit. However, nothing can make that all come crashing down quite like the moment you get to Narita International Airport and remember… Crap! You forgot to get your friends/family/significant other anything from your trip! Don’t be this person. Sure, there are souvenirs at the airport, but they’ll be overpriced and not as loved as something a little more thought out. Let’s go through the Top 10 suggestions I have after living in Tokyo for a year.
Tokyo Banana is the quintessential omiyage that locals who live in Tokyo bring to their friends outside the twenty-three wards. The light, banana shaped cake has an even lighter custard filling and comes wrapped up in traditional omiyage fashion and can be found all over the main tourist districts in Tokyo. If you look, you really can’t miss it, and it’s nice and compact so it can fit into your suitcase.
2 – Inexpensive Japanese Beauty Products
Japanese beauty products are an awesome souvenirs for the beauty guru in your life. From makeup removing oils, moisturizers and lotions (toners as they are known in North America) to blushes, lip stains and anime collaborations with makeup brands they have it all.
My only advice would be to avoid shade-specific things such as foundation or concealer, but other than that, go nuts! If you’re buying large sizes of products, or buying an entire department stores worth of goods you’ll want to check with customs regulations prior to the day of your flight.
3 – Kit Kats (Tokyo Specific)
Ah yes, Kit Kats. Famous the world over, Japanese Kit Kats in their myriad of unique flavours always make a fun treat for almost everyone. These come from all over Japan, but if you want Tokyo specific bars, try to scoop up rum raisin or ‘Tokyo banana’ flavours. These are specific to the city. (Personally, I am still on the hunt for miso Kit Kats, and have not found them yet, and fear I never will.)
This is a bit more expensive of a gift, so save it for someone you really want to impress. You can actually buy Mount Fuji-shaped glasses! Perfect for sipping whiskey or any non-alcoholic drink of your choice these are a great way to commemorate your trip to the national treasure and Unesco World Heritage Site. These will set you back ￥5000 (around 50 USD) a pop..
5 – Omamori from Sensoji or Meiji-Jingu
Omamori are charms that can be purchased at Shinto shrines are Buddhist temples anywhere in Japan. They are amazing, inexpensive and very specific souvenirs to get from any spiritual sites you may visit. As you probably know, the two most popular religious spaces for tourists in Tokyo is Sensoji temple in Asakusa and Meiji-Jingu in Harajuku. Please don’t miss these two amazing structures of spirituality and tradition in the middle of modern Tokyo, and don’t forget to grab some keepsakes of your trip!
Speaking of Harajuku, one must-not-miss experience that comes with its own souvenir is to cram into a purikura box with all of your friends and snap some ‘kawaii’ photos of yourselves. Tokyo is full of purikura booths, but Harajuku is definitely the place where it feels like you are most participating in Japanese pop-culture.
7 – Something from the Shibuya Souvenir Vending Machine
Maybe you’re on a tight schedule on your excursion to Tokyo and just don’t have time to lovingly hand-pick souvenirs for all your loved ones. Well the Shibuya souvenir vending machine has you covered! You can buy a bunch of Shibuya specific items in one place and they will all be compact enough to fit in your suitcase! Not to mention their affordability, which is also a nice perk.
8 – Merchandise from Tokyo Disney
For those of us who do not live in the USA, Disney Land can be somewhere that invokes a feeling of childhood nostalgia or envy. Well be envious of them no more! You can go to Disney Land just outside of Tokyo and enjoy all the wonder and merriment of all your favorite Disney characters. Even if you don’t enjoy amusement parks, Tokyo has many Tokyo Disney stores where you can pick up all kinds of Japan exclusive items from your favorite movies and bring them back to your loved ones. Stuffed animals, cups, pens, tea cups… they have everything in these stores!
9 – A Kabuki (Or Other Novelty) Face Mask
You can buy these little guys at Loft, Don Quijote, or in souvenir shops around Shinjuku. Japanese skincare is world famous, and with this mask you can embody the kumadori makeup that is a famous representation of the Kabuki Theater. That being said there are also anime masks, star wars masks and many other adorable and funny options for you to buy. I would recommend them to friends, and even to use one yourself after a long flight to Tokyo to rehydrate jetlagged skin.
10 – Ichiran Instant Ramen
Ichiran is famous the world over for its convenience and its foreigner friendly atmosphere. They have locations all over Japan, but have the highest density in Tokyo by far. Now you can take that delicious taste home with you and make it at a party, sharing the delicious noodles and famous spices with your guests. Its easy to replicate this quintessential Japanese dish at home, and comes with cooking instructions.
Shopping is one of the best activities in Tokyo. Take pieces of this wonderful city back with you to your home country and share a little of Japan’s magic with everyone you can.