Ultimate Shopping Guide: What to Buy in Japan

Ultimate Shopping Guide: What to Buy in Japan
©wayne_0216- Fotolia

One of the greatest pleasures of travelling is shopping for souvenirs that feature top-quality craftsmanship characteristic of the country you have visited. Be it gifting them to friends and relatives or keeping them as personal mementos, you can be certain that these souvenirs will be value for money! Combining traditional crafts with modern technology deftly, Japanese products impress with their eye-catching aesthetics, innovative design and impressive packaging. Indeed, shopping is just crazy fun in Japan and here are some of the items you ought to purchase!


Prefectural Products

by leesean, CC BY-SA

apan has 47 prefectures, each of which boasts its own distinctive crafts and culture. Now, visiting all 47 prefectures will be quite taxing on your time (and wallet). Luckily for us, a shop called d47 is readily accessible in Shibuya Hikarie, a popular shopping mall in Tokyo. Setting out to fulfill what its name means (i.e. “Design from 47 prefectures”), this shop assembles top-notch and exquisite products from all 47 prefectures under one roof. From the all-purpose seven-spice mix Yawataya Isogoro Shichimi Togarashi from Nagano to the intricately-decorated Marunao porcelain bowls from Gifu and sturdy Tetsubin kettles from Yamagata, the choices are aplenty. So why not head down here and spend a leisurely time stumbling upon things that will enhance your day-to-day living?

d47食堂, Foursquare.com
-English Name: d47
-Japanese Name: d47
-Address: 8th floor of Shibuya Hikarie (2-21-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan zip 150-8510)
-Open Hours / Closed Day: 11am to 8pm
-Budget: Up to individual
-Lat/Long: (35.659104, 139.703742)
-Phone number: 03-5468-5892 (Shibuya Hikarie Information Centre)


Delicious Goodies

by ajari, CC BY

Food, glorious food! With culinary standards so high in Japan, you can rest assured that whatever delicacies you buy back home will be lip-smackingly good. For example, you will not go wrong with securing the sinfully rich Hanatsubaki biscuits or the Brandy cake that melts oh-so-tantalizingly in your mouth from Shisedo Parlour Confectionery. Or if you are gunning for a traditional kind of confectionery, the seppuku monaka (wafer sandwiches) from Shinshodoh are a great bet. Not only do they taste yummy, they also serve as an inspired conversation starter as they actually look like the split stomach of a samurai who committed hara-kiri. Hence, the reference to seppuku (splitting of the abdomen). Get it?

資生堂パーラー 銀座本店, Foursquare.com
-English Name: Shiseido Parlour Shop
-Japanese Name: 資生堂パーラー
-Address: Tokyo Ginza Shiseido Building, 1F, 8-8-3 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
-Open Hours / Closed Day: 11am to 9pm
-Budget: Up to individual
-Lat/Long: (35.689488, 139.691706)
-Phone number: 03-3572-2147

御菓子司 新正堂, Foursquare.com
-English Name: Shinshodoh
-Japanese Name: 新正堂
-Address: Shinbashi 4-27-2, Minato
-Open Hours / Closed Day: Mon – Fri 9am to 8pm, Sat 9am to 5pm, closed Sunday & holidays
-Budget: Up to individual
-Lat/Long: (35.664292, 139.754882)
-Phone number: 03-3431-2512


Fashion Items

by Kazuhiro Keino, CC BY

Japan is at the cutting edge of innovation when it comes to fashion. Here in Japan, you can buy one-of-a-kind fashion items that will bring you compliments from envious friends as these items seamlessly weave traditional craft into modern pop fashion. For the ladies around you who are besotted with Japanese culture, they will be delighted with Kanzashi hair ornaments that resemble their counterparts created during the Edo era! Get these ornaments at Tsumami-do, for wearing a piece of history has never been so stylish. Guys will dig the Mexico 66 and Appian shoes from famous shoe label Onitsuka Tiger. These shoes are made by the age-old suminagashi (Japanese paper marbling) technique that inputs a sophisticated swirling pattern on the textile.

つまみ堂, Foursquare.com
-English Name: Tsumami-do
-Japanese Name: つまみ堂
-Address: Asakusabashi 3-20-16, Taito
-Open Hours / Closed Day: 11am to 6pm (Closed on Sundays, Mondays and holidays)
-Budget: Up to individual
-Lat/Long: (35.700831, 139.788298)
-Phone number: 03-3864-8716

Onitsuka Tiger Shibuya, Foursquare.com
-English Name: Onitsuka Tiger Shibuya
-Japanese Name: オニツカタイガー渋谷
-Address: Shibuya Jinnan Kyodo Building 1・2F, 1-21-3, Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
-Open Hours / Closed Day: 11am to 9pm (8.30pm on weekends and public holidays)
-Budget: Up to individual
-Lat/Long: (35.661777, 139.704051)
-Phone number: 03-3464-9040


Otaku Products

サンコー レアモノショップ 秋葉原総本店, Foursquare.comSelfie sticks are so passé, as Japanese people have moved on to capture their precious memories with an eye-boggling range of clip lenses. Be it a lens that makes your skin shine or a wide angle lens that facilitates the taking of group photos, these smartphone lens are easy to bring around and make your photos look so much funkier. Another product that will stir your impulse to buy is the smartphone arm clip. Given the prevalence of smartphones in our lives, won’t it delight you to have this arm clip which you can attach to the slide of your bed so that you can watch videos without having to hold your hand? Now you can truly relax on your bed and rejuvenate! Both products are available at Thanko Rare-Mono Shop.

-English Name: Thanko Rare-MONO Shop
-Japanese Name: サンコーレアモノショップ
-Address: Shinsuehiro bldg 3-14-8 , Sotokanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 1010021 Japan
-Open Hours / Closed Day: 11am to 8pm (11am to 7pm on Sundays and holidays)
-Budget: Up to individual
-Lat/Long: (35.700947, 139.769602)
-Phone number: +81-3-5297-5783 (Skype)



by ume-y, CC BY

For those of you who like to send yourselves postcards during your travels, Japan has just the thing for you. Make your way to a Japan Post Office and request to buy Regional Form Cards. Each of the 47 prefectures will have its own set of postcards that depict one thing that it is famous for, be it a local delicacy or iconic landmark or traditional custom.

東京中央郵便局, Foursquare.com
Case in point: Tokyo Post Office will provide you a Tokyo Skytree postcard, an Ueno Zoo postcard, among other designs. These postcards really kill two birds with one stone as coupled with giving you a detailed description of the prefectural highlight, they also allow you to record down your travel sentiments for all posterity.

-English Name: Tokyo Central Post Office
-Japanese Name: 東京中央郵便局
-Address: 2-7-2, Marunouchi. Chiyoda-ku. Postal code:100-8994
-Open Hours / Closed Day: 9am to 9pm (9am to 7pm on weekends and public holidays)
-Budget: Up to individual
-Lat/Long:(35.679841, 139.765092)
-Phone number: 0570-046-111

After reading this article, aren’t you raring to hop on the next flight to Japan and begin your shopping conquest. Here’s wishing you the best of luck in finding souvenirs that appeal to you and buying just enough stuff so that you don’t bust your luggage limit!



Kai Le likes nothing better than exploring a foreign city and meeting fellow travelers along the way. He hopes to write about cross-cultural commonalities and differences.