The Bald Traveler

Helping Geeks in their Travel Endeavors

Unique Souvenirs from Japan

You are going to be asked what unique thing did you find in Japan.  So why not bring it back with you and share it with your friends and family.  Read on for some interesting souvenirs that you can bring back with you…

While in Japan there is so much to see and do that you may forget to get souvenirs.  Here are some ideas of things you can get while you are traveling or on your way out of the airport to catch your flight home.

Free Options

Temple and Shrine Stamps

Most temples and shrines in Japan have a pamphlet or paper that talks about the shrine and they usually have a place to put a stamp. The stamps are usually located near the entrances to the shrine and you can stamp the paper for free.  You can also purchase a book for stamps and stamp it at each temple or shrine you visit or for a small fee you can get a monk or priest to write some calligraphy on the page and place a stamp over it.
Meiji Shrine pamphlet with shrine stamp

Your Spare Change

If you have a coin collector in your friends or family consider giving them some of your copious spare change that you will have on leaving Japan.  Also if you have any 5 yen coins hand them out to your friends and family as good luck charms.  5 Yen in Japanese is Go Yen and means goof fortune.
Five Yen (Go Yen) coins.

Commemorative Containers

You may purchase a bottle of coke which is served in a metal city series bottle, or you may purchase some food served in a bento box.  Do not throw these out save them and hand them out to people when you come back.

Low Cost Souvenirs

Ema’s from Temples

 Sticking with our temple and shrine theme the next few items are low cost and can be bought at a temple or shrine.  The first item is an Ema which is a small wooden plaque that Japanese write a prayer on and put on a wall or small building in the shrine or temple.  Each morning the priests and monks will burn the Ema in a ceremony at down sending the prayers contained on the Ema up to the gods.  You can purchase these and write a short description of where and when you got it.  Some shrines even sell Ema specifically for this purpose.  Each Ema is unique to the shrine or temple and season, so you can collect them at multiple shrines.

Lucky Charms

You can also purchase a lucky charm for many different things at shrines in Japan.  Need help getting into college, there is a charm for that.  Need help finding a husband or wife, there is a charm for that.  If you have friends that need a little extra luck in something consider getting them a charm.


Shrines and temples also offer fortunes usually for 100 yen or $1.00 you can select a fortune and also receive a small charm.  If your fortune is bad there is a piece of wire to tie it off on and it will be burnt the next morning with the Ema’s.  But if it’s good you keep it with you as a reminder of your good luck.  Some shrines will have English fortunes but I think getting a Japanese one is much better.

Capsule Toys

Capsule machines are all over in Japan, they outnumber even vending machines.  Consider getting your friends and family a capsule toy as a souvenir of your trip.  And yes there are adult themed capsule machines for those special people in your life.  Most capsule toys will run about 500 yen or $5.00

Unique Souvenirs

These souvenirs typically cost over $10.00 and are very unique to Japan.  Consider these for your closer friends and family who you like just that little bit more.  I promise I won’t tell anyone who is more liked.


Japan is known for its unique flavored kitkats.  You can buy these in the airport on the way to your gate or do like I did and buy them at Don Quixote for much less.  Just try and not eat them all before you get home.

Japanese Knives

Japan is known for their knives.  You can buy them from the Restaurant supply stores in Osaka and Asakusa in Tokyo.  Or you can buy them from Don Quixote alone with a tone of other things.  I saw a set of knives made by a Japanese Katana master for over $5,000.  Look for a Japanese steel knife with a makers mark or a set of ceramic knives.

3D paper puzzles

Japan is know for their paper and origami.  But you can also pick up a 3D paper puzzle for someone to put together.

Silk Items

You can purcahse pieces of silk that were used in making a Kimono or that were made into scarves.  Japan is known for their silk fabric and creative designs, consider picking some up for loved ones.

Second Hand Kimono’s and Yakatas

In Kyoto in Nishiki Market near Gion you can find Second hand Kimono Shops where you can get a good quality used Kimono or Yakata starting at $10.00 and going up.  This is much cheaper then buying a new kimono which could easily cost thousands of dollars.  There are many stores here so make sure and shop around for the perfect item at the right price.

Fake Food

Did you notice outside of every restaurant in Japan there was a fake version of most of their dishes that they served.  And that this food looked almost exactly like what you got.  No Burgers that look good on TV but just a mess when served to you.  The Japanese pride themselves on giving you what is shown.  In that vein in both Osaka and Asakusa in Tokyo in the Restaurant supply markets are vendors of this fake food and you can buy it.  Show your friends and family what that really good sushi or ramen looked like.  Note you are buying just the food at these stores as they sell to the restaurants which already have plates to put it on, but ask them when you buy and they will tell you where to get the perfect plate for your fake sushi and beer.


The Japanese do not sign documents in Japan they stamp them with an official stamp called a Hanko.  Did you know you can buy a Hanko in Japan from a Hanko Store, or if you want to save some money you can get an official Hanko from Don Quixote.  Come back home and start stamping all your cards and stationary or get one for a loved one.  Note Hanko are not valid for signatures in the U.S. sorry.

Face Masks

Last but not least you can get face masks.  These are not your typical face masks oh know these are Pokemon, panda, Marvel Avengers, and Kabuki face masks.  Pick some up and have a beauty party when you get home.  Get some Japanese makeup while you are at for the whole experience.  If you ask they will even give you gift bags when you buy them.

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