Tokyo is a fun place to shop for omiyage – souvenirs- and there is an amazing range of traditional, technical and quirky items available. Shotemga, the five-story shopping arcade in Nakano is a good place to start and the Oriental Bazaar is a fun one-stop shop that is perfect for stocking up on presents and English is widely spoken. Tokyo Handicrafts has some good ideas for home, office and car whilst The Loft is great for mobile accessories, stationery, and quirky Japanese inventions! The National Art Centre in Nogizaka has some lovely clothes by local designers, whilst Bingoya specializes in traditional Japanese handicrafts.
For high-end gifts, the Ginza district has some excellent shops. There is an underground shopping mall – Yaesu Chikagai – by the main railway station. If you are on a tight budget but would like to do some fun shopping the 100 yen shop is similar to ‘Pound land’ and has a whole load of affordable gifts for all ages.
So here comes the top 10 souvenirs to buy in Tokyo. Have a look!
1. Buy a traditional woodblock print
The tradition of this attractive art form comes from the Edo and Maji periods and was originally used for centuries to print books, but became an artistic genre in the Edp period (1603-1868) when they became a very distinctive style of art that portrayed everyday life as well as scenes from nature. Apart from some beautiful old ones, there are some attractive new pieces which make handsome wall decorations. Needless to say, there is something to suit every budget, with the top prices being charged for work by the best-known artists.
2. Enjoy choosing the finest writing paper
In 1663 Kyukyodo, the paper specialist started making beautiful writing paper and the tradition continues today as the company is still run by a descendant of its founder. The building has a distinctive arched brick entrance and inside has a wonderful selection of writing paper, notebooks and cards including some colorful washi designs. The shop also sells attractive picture frames and incense.
3. Have fun choosing chopsticks
For a truly authentic gift that is reasonably priced and takes up little room in your suitcase think chopsticks! Natsuno in Ginza is the specialist shop and it is a fascinating place to visit as it has more than 2.500 pairs of chopsticks to choose from! They are available in all types of colors and designs and made in different materials so the price range is wide. Along with chopsticks, there are various accessories to choose as well including chopstick rests in every color and design imaginable!
4. Invest in some cosmetics for all seasons
Japanese cosmetics are really top quality and have the advantage that they are designed for a hot humid climate so they really do stay in place whatever the weather! The summer temperature in Tokyo can reach 35ºC with 85% humidity so now you know how the local ladies keep their looks! Other products include some treatments that calm frizzy hair and oily skin caused by high humidity.
5. Enjoy some good Japanese liquor
Hasegawa Saketen is a well-known chain in the city with its flagship store in Kameido. The chain stocks many varieties of sake – the excellent Japanese rice wine. There is a chance to taste before you buy. Other suggestions include locally made shochu and plum wine as well as really excellent Japanese single malt whiskeys.
6. Admire some fine Edo Kiriko glass
This much-beloved glassware first appeared in the Edo period and they have the special feature of always being cool to touch. The glasses are deep colored in red or blue and decorated in fine geometric patterns in white and silver. The glasses are perfect for Japanese liquors – especially a good sake.
7. Choose some beautiful hair decorations
Edo Tsumami Kanzashi is a very special type of hair decoration that is made from long pieces of brightly colored silk that are cleverly used to create beautiful birds and flowers. This is one of the city’s traditional crafts and there are still a handful of craftsmen that can be seen at work in their workshops. The hair decorations are so special they will be treasured forever.
8. Pack a beautiful kimono in your suitcase
A traditional kimono has long been regarded as a very easy way to look chic and elegant. Although Japanese women now only wear a kimono for special occasions, there are still so many available in a variety of different colors, patterns, and materials including the most beautiful silks. You will have a chance to buy a new kimono or there are also some second-hand stores selling some very exquisite old kimonos that can look very stylish.
9. Get your name written in Japanese
The attractive senjafuda straps were originally placed at shrines but are now very popular with visitors to the city. The straps are carved out of a piece of wood that is either a light grained colored or a polished black piece. On the piece of wood, the chosen name is carved in Japanese characters.
10. Select some Japanese foodie souvenirs
There are just so many foodie ideas to pack in your suitcase including packets of Japanese noodles or instant curry.
There are boxes of traditional sculptured wagashi sweets made from bean paste and sweet potato or an amazing range of unusual tasting Japanese Kit-Kats including rum raisin, green tea, wasabi, cheesecake, and even prawn!