What to Buy in Tokyo: 39 Unique Souvenirs and Gifts to Make Shopping Easier!

  • TOKYO
  • VARIOUS AREAS
  • SHOPPING
  • Tokyo is a world-famous city. It is visited by over 20 million foreign visitors per year (as of 2017) and will be entering the world stage even more as the host of the Olympics in 2020. This world-class city is on the bucket lists of many foreign travelers and tourists.

    It is particularly known for amazing food, wacky themed restaurants, a plethora of shopping opportunities, and unique historical and cultural landmarks and experiences that you simply cannot find anywhere else on the planet!

    It is also one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world, brimming with life and crowds in many places. With so many people and such a vast area, it can often be overwhelming for tourists and visitors, even among Japanese visitors from other quieter parts of the country!

    If you are going to visit Tokyo, you may well be wondering where to get good souvenirs and gifts in this enormous city. Although there are shops just about everywhere, it can be difficult to work out just which areas have decent stuff, at reasonable prices.

    Both Haneda Airport and the busy Tokyo Station have a good selection of souvenir shops with nice stuff, and shops and market-style stores can always be found surrounding historical landmarks such as the Sensoji Temple. Also, the popular areas of Shinjuku and Shibuya have many shopping malls and smaller independent stores offering many souvenir and gift ideas.

    However, if you really want to find some unique souvenirs which you might not find anywhere else and are a little different from the usual colored chopsticks (which are great but very common!), take a look at this list of 39 souvenirs in Tokyo with a difference!

    1. Isshin-do Kabuki Sheet Masks

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    This is a great Japanese facial sheet mask, and is both a unique gift and a helpful addition to a skincare routine! These popular face masks are nationally loved and contain nourishing ingredients which are good for skin.

    For an extra touch, buy these special ones with Kabuki designs on them. These are a choice of two different designs, and they add a bit of a special Japanese element to them! You can find these in many drug stores and beauty stores around Tokyo.

    Isshin-do Website *Japanese only

    2. Manga

    No doubt many people who travel to or have an interest in Japan enjoy manga. For those friends or family members of yours who don’t read Japanese but love Japanese comics, you can find plenty of English language books in Kinokuniya bookstore, including some quality manga. The fact that it came from Tokyo instead of your local bookstore should leave an impression, and would make an ideal gift!

    If, however, you have a friend that knows Japanese but could not make the trip, you’ll find manga easily available in several bookstores and smaller shops around Tokyo. You can get some really good deals too!

    3. Stickers

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    Tokyo is crazy about stickers! Stickers may see like a strange or somewhat underwhelming gift or souvenir at first, but when you see the variety of wacky, weird, and wonderful stickers you can choose from, you might decide it’s a unique gift!

    They can be found in many stationery and general stores, and you can get a variety of sizes, colors, themes and prices. Big stores like Loft and Tokyo Hands will have a great range, and you can even find them at hundred yen shops!

    Stickers in Japan are cute, funny, beautiful, and so fun! You can also find seasonal stickers for Christmas and Halloween, and they are enjoyed and loved by adults and children! They make a great little gift and are unique but also reasonably priced!

    4. Rilakkuma goods from Kiddyland or Takashimaya

    Rilakkuma is an iconic character in Japan. At Kiddyland in Harajuku, he and his friends take up half of the fourth floor! On this floor you will find many cute Rilakkuma goods. The choice is endless!

    You can find plushies, stationery items, wallets and bus pass cases, phono straps and accessories, and many other products. You will also be able to find seasonal and limited edition goods which you probably can’t find anywhere else! If you have friends or family who are into Rilakkuma, this is a place you have to visit!

    Kiddyland Website
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    Takashimaya Website
    Access (There are many branches, but we will introduce one of them here)

    5. Skytree Goods

    The Skytree will be on the travel itineraries of most visitors to Tokyo. Besides the wonderful experience and city views you can enjoy at Skytree, there are also some really good souvenirs and gift ideas at their shops.

    The landmark actually has its own shopping area called ‘Solamachi’, and has a gift shop where you can purchase gifts and goods related to the Skytree. This includes Skytree shaped chopsticks, themed forks and spoons, T-shirts, Tote bags, chocolates, and many other souvenirs!

    Skytree Website
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    6. Asakusa Sensoji Temple-related Goods

    Asakusa is quite a popular tourist destination, making it quite easy to find plenty of shops for Japanese gifts on the famed Nakamise-dori.

    However, Asakusa is also famous for the Sensoji Temple with its large gates – including the front gate called Kaminari mon. The lantern in this gate is a famous symbol of Asakusa and thus its image is shown on plenty of merchandise including tote-bags, socks and more!

    Sensoji Website *Japanese only
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    7. Traditional Crafts in Asakusa

    Also in Asakusa, as mentioned above, is its large shopping street. Nakamise-dori is covered in shops that specialize in souvenir selling (as this area is frequented by tourists). Among some of the less authentic gifts, though, you can find a few gems. There are shop owners who handmake plenty of traditional Japanese crafts. For example, you can buy wooden umbrellas and combs there for anyone interested in the traditional side of things!

    Nakamise-dori Website
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    8. Omamori from Meiji Jingu

    Meiji Jingu is without doubt one of the most fascinating shrines in Tokyo, and you will see it appearing in all travel guides of the city. It is located within Yoyogi Park near Harajuku, and it attracts thousands of visitors, residents of the city, and locals.

    This shrine, although nestled in the center of Tokyo, is actually very peaceful and serene. You will likely see local people praying here or just sitting and relaxing. Alongside this, you can also come here to see many annual events and festivals which are really fun!

    As with most shrines in Japan, a tradition among visitors is that they buy omamori (protective charms) which can be purchased usually very close to the central shrine area. Meiji Jingu is a big and popular shrine so you will notice many places selling omamori!

    Among the different charms available, you can find ones for luck, good health, passing exams, staying safe, and countless other situations and predicaments! Some of them are quite unusual, too! These would no doubt make a perfect gift or souvenir!

    Meiji Jingu
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    9. Food Magnets from Tokyu Hands

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    Most people abroad may have heard of Japanese erasers that look quite a bit like food, but perhaps the colorful magnets at Tokyu Hands are not as admired overseas. While the giant store still has plenty of those famous erasers to choose from, there are also a variety of magnets. In Shinjuku’s Tokyu Hands, there is an entire floor dedicated to stationery and related items. There are, of course, ordinary magnets, but also plenty of colorful ones in the shape of food or animals too!

    Tokyu Hands
    Access (There are many branches, but we will introduce one of them here)

    10. Tokyo Tower Souvenirs

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    Tokyo Tower now often seems to be overshadowed by Tokyo Skytree. However, this is still a much-loved and much-visited spot. It may not have a “Soramachi” of its own, but it does have quite a lot of gifts and things to see. You can get character goods of the tower’s mascots, as well as plenty of items shaped like the tower – including plenty of models and even water bottles as pictured above.

    Tokyo Tower
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    11. Tokyo Tamago Gomatamago

    Tamago means “egg” in Japanese, but not to worry. You would not be carting eggs back from Japan after your trip. These are sweets are a white chocolate covered cake filled with black sesame (kuro goma) bean paste and they are delicious. This would be a good gift to buy for those unfamiliar with traditional sweets, as they may be surprisingly delicious to many palettes.

    12. TV Station Shop Goods

    TV Asahi in Roppongi and Fuji Television in Odaiba are two television station buildings that are somewhat public. Outside you can take pictures and inside there are displays and merchandise from currently running shows that you can purchase! The Fuji TV building, in particular, is quite interesting to look at, even if you don’t venture inside.

    TV Asahi Website *Japanese only
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    Fuji TV Building
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    13. LINE Friends Store Goods

    For many people in Japan, LINE is a necessity! It is an app that lets you message friends and make free calls and video calls. There are also “stickers” (or large emoji) that you can send. Some of these stickers have LINE’s original characters including lovable bear Brown, adorable rabbit Cony and many others. These beloved characters now have their own store in Harajuku where you can pick up plenty of merchandise!

    Line Friends Store Website
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    14. Washi Items

    If you’re in the Shinjuku area during your stay and want to pick up anything washi – be it paper, tape or anything else – definitely make a stop at Bingoya! They have a five-floor store full of traditional Japanese crafts. In addition to the paper goods, they also have a lovely collection of pottery, fabric, and traditional art!

    Bingoya Website
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    15. Stationery from Shibuya Loft

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    This is a paradise for anyone who loves shopping. The Shibuya store has six floors, each housing their own genre of items. The 2nd floor is full of beauty products and is wonderfully extensive. Still, their crowning glory is probably the endless amounts of colorful stationery in the basement. Anything you could possibly imagine having to do with writing and planning can be found down there. You could spend hours in the basement alone though it is worth it to pop up to the first floor to check out the other gifts designated to that area.

    Loft Website *Japanese only
    Access (There are many branches, but we will introduce one of them here).

    16. Clothing from Shibuya 109

    Another Shibuya option is its iconic fashion mecca, Shibuya 109. This place is quite popular with the younger crowd – particularly those who are interested in unique fashion. There are numerous shops, each dedicated to a particular brand or style of Japanese fashion. Any fashionistas in your life would appreciate something from this place. There is also a 109 Men’s somewhat closeby in the same area.

    Shibuya 109 Website
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    17. Fake Food Items

    Fake food is both a funky souvenir and an everyday item in Japan! When you browse restaurants in Tokyo, you will probably see large displays of extremely realistic (and sometimes ridiculously fake) plastic food, presented with the aim of enticing customers into the restaurant.

    It can be helpful, especially for non-Japanese speakers who may enter restaurants without an English menu. At least they will know what the food looks like! These plastic food items have become something of a national trend, and you can now find them as souvenirs and cute gifts in many shops in Tokyo!

    Whether you want a keychain, phono strap, or magnet, you will be able to buy these wonderfully wacky and amusing items as a great gift!

    18. Ukiyo-e Edo Uchiwa

    The uchiwa, along with the sensu (folding fan) are probably two of the most iconic pieces of Japanese culture. While the sensu is more known to non-Japanese people as being used in the arts, the uchiwa might be less well known.

    There are uchiwas of all sorts, including uchiwas with idol groups’ images sold at concerts, and uchiwas given for free on the streets to promote various things to people walking by.

    These uchiwas might be of more interest to those seeking something a little more historically important. Ukiyo-e is a type of traditional art that was popular from the 17th to 19th century, but still remains visible to this day. If you happen to make your way to Ibasen, you can find plenty of these unique treasures to choose from!

    Ibasen Website *Japanese only
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    19. Tokyo Kitsch Merchandise

    If the name isn’t enough of a hint, let it be known that this shop is full of interesting knickknacks. There are Mount Fuji-themed cups and paper products, light-up kokeshi dolls, Doraemon goods, stationery and so much more! Being located in Nishi-Nippori, this shop might be a little out of the way for the average Shibuya-Shinjuku-Harajuku sight-seer but it is definitely worth a look!

    Tokyo Kitsch Website
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    20. Rum Raisin Kit Kats

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    Kit Kats are delicious and in Japan they are everywhere. The country has plenty of special flavors to offer including red bean, green tea, and sakura. There are also flavors limited to certain areas! Tokyo’s special flavor is rum raisin. Give these a try if you or anyone you know has a sweet tooth.

    21. Chopsticks

    This sounds like a no-brainer when visiting an Asian country. Of course, you will come across chopsticks of all sorts everywhere you go. But, what’s great about Tokyo’s shops is the variety you will find. You will see much more than average wooden chopsticks. There are many types that you will come across from colorful, patterned sets in 100 yen shops like Daiso, to beautiful, lacquered chopsticks from elegant shops like Ginza Natsuno. Whatever you are looking for, you will definitely find chopsticks to your taste in Tokyo.

    22. Japanese Snacks from Muji

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    There are other countries that have Muji stores. Most will know it is a duty-free shop offering household items and furniture. However, it also has its own brand of snacks and teas. You can buy anything from dried fruit to marshmallows. Or if you’re looking for something more Japanese, you could always pick up some dried squid!

    Muji Website
    Access (There are many branches, but we will introduce one of them here).

    23. Phone Cases

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    Another item that is all over the world may not seem like something you want to pick up, but Japan seems to have an abundance of smartphone cases! While the trend before smartphones was putting a phone strap on your flip phone (and these little charms do still exist), now it seems everyone wants to express themselves with cases. The previously mentioned Shibuya Loft has an entire section on their 1st floor dedicated to phone cases. Not to mention other places, including the Disney store, have some options unique to Japan!

    24. Incense

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    There are many places to buy incense if you really look for it, but one particular brand that is special because of its history would be Kyukyodo. Around 3 and a half centuries old, Kyukyodo was prominent in the Edo period for providing the Imperial Family with their incense. Their store in Ginza is likely to provide you with some standard as well as unique choices for what to bring home. There are also shops in Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Soramachi.

    Kyukyodo Website *Japanese only
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    25. Origami Paper

    You will likely find all sorts of origami paper all over the place. Many simply colored packs of it are used by children at school. However, if you’re looking for more interesting paper, the aptly named Souvenir From Tokyo might just have what you’re looking for! Their selection offers a whole assortment of patterns. They also have plenty of other gifts for you to browse once you’ve stocked up on paper!

    Souvenir From Tokyo Website
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    26. Edo Kiriko Glasses

    These glasses are a beautiful gift to buy for your family, friends or even for yourself as a memento. Their jewel-like appearance makes them an excellent souvenir choice. They come in many styles, cuts, colors and even shapes. You can go the classy route by picking up some detailed, colorful glasses to be used for your expensive alcohol, or you might choose to grab some novelty Mount Fuji glasses. Either way, the person receiving the kiriko glass will appreciate it!

    27. Tokyo Hiyoko

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    An ideal gift to enjoy that comes in many varieties. The regular variety is the cake-like outside shaped like a hiyoko (chick) with a “yolk” made of bean paste in the middle. You can buy different flavors or even different varieties like gelatin or pudding desserts shaped like the hiyoko!

    Tokyo Hiyoko Website *Japanese only
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    28. Sanrio Character Goods

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    Hello Kitty is one of Japan’s many adorable characters and her image is nearly everywhere! She and the other Sanrio characters can be found in several places, including their own theme park in Tama City, Tokyo! If the Sanrio Puroland atmosphere is a bit too much for you, you can always pick up some character goods in Shinjuku Takashimaya’s Sanrio shop or various other Sanrio shop locations throughout the city.

    Sanrio Puroland Website
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    29. Tokyo Sakusaku Brulee

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    Not the type of brulee dessert you might be imagining, though still tasty! Tokyo Sakusaku Brulee can be found in Tokyo Station. It’s a crunchy twist on the creamy dessert. Made with whipped white chocolate, they look quite a bit like muffins, and have nuts and cornflakes mixed in them for that nice crunch!

    Tokyo Sakusaku Brulee Website *Japanese only
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    30. D-BROS Shinagawa Items

    Located inside Shinagawa station in Ecute Shinagawa, D-bros sells very unique products! Their parent company is one with a background in graphic design, thus giving their beautiful glassware, stationery, vases and all other products that extra boost of quality. Stop by their shop for a different take on everyday items!

    D-BROS website *Japanese only
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    31. Fujiyama Glass

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    It may be a bit excessive to some to spend a little over 4000 yen on a glass, but if you are really looking to commemorate your Tokyo visit, this is a great idea. Each of the beer glasses, shaped like Mount Fuji, are handmade. The glasses were designed after Mount Fuji was named a World Heritage site in 2013. And, if you do buy one, the glass will be packaged in a gorgeous wooden box.

    32. H-Tokyo

    H-Tokyo has a great line of handkerchiefs and pocket squares! They are actually a shop specializing in men’s handkerchiefs, as their website calls them. There is an eclectic and beautiful array of designs too! All are made in Japan, too, which makes them an excellent choice for a souvenir for a man in your life who needs something a little fancy.

    H-Tokyo Website *Japanese only
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    33. Tsuruya Yoshinobu Tokyo Mise

    Tokyo Mise is a gorgeous shop and cafe located in Nihonbashi. The shop, which is open from 10 am until 9 pm, offers traditional Japanese sweets with an interesting history. The flagship store in Kyoto was founded in 1803 by Tsuruya Ihei, whose knowledge and techniques continue to be passed down in the Tsuruya business. The sweets are beautifully made and change often depending on the season, so you can buy a treat that is unique to your travels!

    Tokyo Mise Website
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    34. Gaotchi (Nakano Broadway)

    Looking for something retro and otaku? Chances are, Gaotchi in Nakano Broadway has it! There is a vast collection of toys, figurines and memorabilia from the anime of your childhood. With a wide variety of character goods to choose from, you won’t want to leave!

    Gaotchi on Nakano Broadway’s Website *Japanese only
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    35. Tokyo’s Tokyo

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    Tokyo’s Tokyo is something of a variety store with an array of products that perfect souvenir choices. They have figurines, bags, stationery, clothing and so much more. They have a location in Haneda Airport, which is great for travelers who want to do a bit of last minute shopping! For a whole guide to Haneda’s goods you can also look here.

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    36. B&B Shimokitazawa

    Shimokitazawa is mostly known for being a hip, lively shopping area. Now, to add to their reputation, B&B has opened and it is not a bed and breakfast. After you’ve relaxed with a beer and a book (what the B and B really stand for!) you can go to the second floor and browse their bookstore. You’ll be sure to find something cool to bring back as a souvenir!

    B&B Website *Japanese only
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    37. Tenugui and Tenugui Scarves from Kamawanu

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    Here is a fashionable take on a traditional Japanese item. By Kamawanu, located in Ebisu, specialize in tengui (or hand towels). Not only do they have an amazing selection of tenugui to choose from, but they have also launched a scarf collection! You can choose both traditional and more modern souvenirs to bring back and spruce up a friend’s wardrobe or accessory collection.

    By Kamawanu Website
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    38. Kappabashi Street’s Kitchen Supplies

    Kappabashi is a street in Tokyo known for its series of shops that offer kitchen supplies. You can find several Japanese-style bowls, a store for kitchen knives and you can also find plenty of fake food themed items! The giant chef on the corner marks the entrance to the street.

    Kappabashi Website
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    39. Affordable Cosmetics

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    If you have any makeup lovers or beauty gurus in your life, Tokyo will have plenty of places for you to give them a treat! Drugstores in Japan carry a wide variety of makeup brands running from high mid-range to extremely affordable brands. Even the cheaper items are great quality! Matsumotokiyoshi is a great destination to do a makeup run, but many other drugstore chains are equally equipped!

    A visit to Tokyo is certain to be a busy, exciting and even tiring experience at times. Hopefully with these tips of what to buy and where to go, your trip will be made easier and your memories of Tokyo will be well-preserved!

    Would you like to stay in Tokyo? Check out all the hotels in the area here!

    *Featured Image: jp.fotolia.com/