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What to Buy in Japan

what to buy in Japan, Japanese skincare

When visiting Japan, you’ll find a variety of unique and locally made products that you will not find anywhere else. Plan to bring an extra suitcase just for gifts because you will want to buy everything!

Japan Quick Links

Candy

Candy is one of the most popular gifts to give from Japan. Kit Kats are one of the most talked about candies from Japan because they have so many unique flavors available only in Japan. Tokyo Banana and Ginza Strawberry are two other popular candies to bring back.

Ceramics

You can find beautiful ceramics for sale in Tokyo. Some we bought were ceramic chopstick holders that we found at Tsukiji Fish Market.

Skincare

There is a bunch of incredible Asian skincare you can buy when you’re in Japan. There is so much, it’s a bit overwhelming especially since most of the descriptions are only in Japanese but researching what to buy ahead of time will help you figure out what to get. I bought a few things from Etude House, and this is what I found during my planning research.

Etude House

Etude House was a clear favorite for Korean brand skincare. They have a store in Osaka I went to, but department stores also carry this brand and you can get good samples and freebies when you purchase.

Skincare in Drug Stores/ Chemists

Going to a drug store / chemist will have an impressive range of skincare. Some favorites mentioned online included Kose Speedy Cleansing Oil, Hada Labo Premium Lotion, Rosette Ceramide Gel, Pure Smile Sheet Masks and Lip masks.

Makeup Brushes

Hakuhodo and Chikuhodo are iconic Japanese makeup brush shops and they both have stores dotted around Japan

Lululun Green Tea Mask

The Lululun Green Tea Mask is very popular according to our tour guide and is only found in Kyoto. I ended up buying a large pack of these and giving a few out to friends as gifts. The masks are very soothing and make my skin feel very smooth.

Yojiya

Yojiya is a nice traditional looking brand that is mostly in Kyoto but found in Osaka and Kyoto too. People really like their blotting papers and lovely Japanese style makeup brushes.

Yodobashi Camera/LOFT

Both Yodobashi Camera/LOFT have excellent makeup and skincare sections with lower-end brands. This includes CANMAKE, Majolica Majorca, Creer Beaute, Hada Labo, Kose, Pure Smile, Lululun, K-Palette, Diamond Lash, Dollywink, Rohto and Biore Sunscreens.

Umbrellas

Umbrellas are a popular item to buy in Japan because they have many fun designs. Some form a Sakura pattern when it rains.

Japanese Whiskey

Smaller Whiskey distillers like Ichiro are easier to find here. Suntory and Nikka have a ton of offerings available for Japan only. If you like whiskey but are unfamiliar with Japanese whiskey here is a Japanese whiskey buying guide.

Jeans

Japanese denim jeans are famous for their quality. Some famous brands in Japan are blue, samurai jeans, Oni, Pure Blue and Iron Heart.

Sneakers

Japan is also famous for it’s wide variety of sneakers. Onitsuka Tigers is one brand that you don’t see often outside of Japan. Other famous brands are Adidas and Nike.

What to Buy in Tokyo

Kitchen Knives

Kitchen knives are very popular to buy when you’re visiting Tokyo. There are entire guides on what Japanese knives to buy when you’re visiting Japan, including this guide. The best place to shop for Japanese knives is on Kappabashi street in Tokyo. Kappabashi street is the street where chefs travel to find the best knives from all over Japan.

Stationary

The stationary in Japan is beautiful. Browse stationary displayed on multiple floors by visiting Itoya in Ginza. You can also find Itoya at the Narita Airport, before you head through security.

Pens

Japan is renowned for its high design, creativity and quality and that includes its pens. You can find a wide variety of pens in stationary shops like Itoya.

Tokyo Banana

Tokyo Banana is a popular candy that can be found in many train stations and convenience stores. It is best to buy while you’re in the city shopping because if you wait until the airport you’ll have to buy a large amount.

Ginza Strawberry

Ginza strawberry is another popular sweet in Tokyo. It can be found in many train stations, convenience stores and markets while you’re out exploring the city. It is best to buy this in the city as when I went to purchase it at the airport I actually couldn’t find any though I was in a rush.

What to Buy in Kyoto

There are many things unique to Kyoto that you should consider buying while you’re there

Kimono or Kimono Robe

Kimonos are a popular item to rent when exploring Kyoto. You can rent near Kiyomizu-dera, Gion and Kasaka Shrine and spend the day strolling in a Kimono. Kimonos are expensive to buy, but if you’re looking for a cheaper option to buy you can buy a kimono robe which costs under $100.

Engraved Chopsticks

A store in Nishiki Market in Kyoto sells a variety of chopsticks and chopstick holders, and you can actually have the chopsticks engraved there. Engraved chopsticks make for great gifts and they don’t take up too much room in the suitcase either.

Green tea / Matcha Tea

The famous place to get the best green tea and matcha tea is from Ippodo in Kyoto. They also have a sit down area to order tea in house which is incredible. The green tea and matcha tea make for great gifts, know that the expiration dates are usually 6 months later.

Perfume

If you like a unique scent for every place you visit, Kyoto does have a limited edition perfume. It’s called Maiko Yume eau de Cologne.

Yatsuhashi

Yatsuhashi is a traditional Japanese confectionery made rice flour, sugar and cinnamon, and the original one is baked. The popular Yatsuhashi in Kyoto is raw (unbaked) with mochi-texture and triangle shape, and it’s filled with red bean paste. It has many flavours such as Matcha, chocolate and cherry blossoms.

Ceramic Pieces

Kyoto is known for it’s ceramic pieces. A good place to buy ceramic pieces is near Kiyomizu (a temple in Kyoto)

Ichizawa Shinzaburo Canvas Bags

Ichizawa Shinzaburo canvas bags are not sold anywhere else except their flagship store in Kyoto. They are quite pricey but excellent quality, minimal bags with many styles. They have tax exemption too over a certain amount.

What to Buy in Osaka

Beautiful Bandanas

By Osaka Castle, there’s a giftshop that sells really cool handkerchiefs/bandanas at a rate of 3 for approx. 500 yen. They make for great gifts and take up very little room in your suitcase.

What to Buy in Hakone

Black Egg

The black egg is a popular item to buy in Hakone. It is literally that – a hardboild egg with a shell that is black from the sulfer. You can find it at the shop at the top of Mt Owakudani, which you get to by cable car.

Snacks and Alcohol

The shop at the top of Mt Owkudani also sells a ton of unique snacks and alcohol. Definitely bring a backpack as you’ll want to buy a lot! There is a lot of marketing that says “only sold here” and I didn’t see these snacks sold anywhere else.

As you leave Japan, the things you bought in Japan will serve as tangible mementos, each carrying the great memories you made during your trip to Japan. Friends and family will love all the gifts you bought them in Japan as you truly cannot buy many of these gifts anywhere else. Many of these gifts are the best gifts for the people that have everything and need nothing. They will truly appreciate you thinking of them while on your trip to Japan.

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