Whether it's for yourself or for a friend, you should definitely bring some souvenirs home from Tokyo. Here is a list of my favorite Tokyo souvenirs and where to buy them.
Knives for sale in in Asakusa: URAIWONS / Shutterstock.com
Tokyo is THE place to buy traditional and modern Japanese gifts. In this section, I’ve listed the best souvenirs you can buy in Japan, divided into easy-to-follow categories. If you can’t think of the perfect gift for someone back home, just skim down this list. After each description, I list the best place(s) in Tokyo to buy these things. Click to the links for full details and maps to each place.
Yukata (light summer robe)
If you've stayed in a Japanese ryokan, you've probably worn a Yukata. These are the light summer robes that you wear at ryokan and even in some hotels in Japan. They're super comfortable for lounging around at home in. You can find them at any Japanese department store, near the kimonos. A cheaper place to find them is:
- Oriental Bazaar: This Harajuku art and craft emporium has a big selection and English-language service.
Gadgets/Hi-tech Items/Toys etc
Japan is the world capital of hi-tech and gadgets and these items make great souvenirs. My favorite one-stop shop for all kinds of cool gadgets, DIY items and hobby goods is this:
- Tokyu Hands: With locations across Tokyo, including a big branch in Shibuya and an even bigger one in Shinjuku's Takashimaya Times Square complex, this is a must for gadget fans.
Quirk Lifestyle Goods
Japan is known for creative solutions to make living spaces and daily life more convenient and fun. You'll be amazed at some of the cool products on offer at the city's department stores. For a great selection of quirky must-have lifestyle goods that make wonderful gifts, try:
- Loft: This huge youth-oriented department store in Shibuya is one of my favorite places to buy creative goods for the folks back home.
Pop Culture Goods
If you're after manga, character figures, kawaii goods and anything else related to Japanese pop culture, head to Akihabara, the city's center of pop culture kitsch. Try these stores:
- Mandarake Complex: Mangas are only the beginning of the offerings at this Akihabara shop.
- Don Quijote: For food items, makeup, curious, novelties and lots of other cool stuff, try this huge superstore in Akihabara.
Clothing and Fashion Items
You cannot visit Tokyo and fail to notice how well dressed people are. Why not buy some of the fashions you see being paraded around you? You'll find an endless selection of clothing in all the department stores you see around you. However, if you're looking for something that looks good at a very reasonable price, try this:
- Uniclo: You'll find branches of this casual clothing retailer all across Tokyo. My favorite is the huge branch in Ginza.
If you are going to hand over the gift soon after arriving back home, Japanese sweets are a unique gift that everyone appreciates. Any department store food floor will have a great selection. However, for convenience and selection, this is my pick:
- Daimaru Tokyo Station Branch: On the first floor, easily accessible from the Yaesu Central Exit of Tokyo Station, this collection of Japan's best sweet shops is a good place to pick up some delicious sweets before leaving for the airport. They have both traditional Japanese and Western sweets.
Green tea is a great souvenir because it's light, compact and everyone likes it. You can buy decent green tea in loose or tea bag form in every grocery store in Tokyo. You can buy loose tea, tea bags and matcha (powdered green tea) at the tea vendors in any department store food floor. However, for the best selection and advice, I recommend:
- Ippodo Tokyo Store: This branch of Kyoto's famous tea shop near Tokyo Station is a great place to browse and taste a variety of teas. They'll wrap it up for you beautifully to make a knock-out gift
If you're familiar with the beauty of Japanese lacquerware, you know that it will make a brilliant souvenir or memorable gift. It's not cheap but you can get simple or small pieces for much less than US$100. You will find a good selection in the interior or craft sections of any major department store, but for a huge selection of sumptuous pieces, I recommend:
- Kuroeya: This lacquerware specialist north of Tokyo Station is one of my favorite shops in Tokyo. The selection is astounding and they have cool things like lacquerware phone cases.
Traditional items like pottery, textiles, wood block prints, dolls, paper items and tea ceremony goods make great and distinctive souvenirs. Try these two fantastic shops for a wide selection:
- Bingoya: In East Shinjuku, this shop offers six floors of traditional arts and crafts to choose from.
- Oriental Bazaar: This convenient and foreigner-friendly shop right on Omotesando in Harajuku is a great one-stop shop for traditional Japanese souvenirs.
Japanese Cooking Knives
If you're a cook, you probably already know how good Japanese knives are. They're among the best in the world and they look and feel great in the hand. You can find a good selection in any Japanese department store. But, for a specialist, try:
- Kiya Knife Shop: This Japanese knife and cooking equipment shop within easy walking distance of Tokyo Station is the best place in Tokyo to pick up a knife.
Aizome, or indigo dyeing, is one of the most pleasing of Japanese textile techniques. The deep blue is attractive and relaxing to look at and wear. Aizome is a gift that really says "Japan" and it's sure to please. For a great selection, try:
- Blue and White: This small shop in Roppongi has a fine selection of aizome clothing and household items.
Washi is one of my all-time favorite Japanese products. I consider it the most beautiful paper in the world. The range of patterns is incredible. Buy a few pieces and put them in a roll or get some washi cards or even printer paper. Here are two places to try:
- Kyukyodo: This fine Ginza shop sells a great variety of Japanese art and craft-related products, including a good selection of washi and things made from washi.
- Itoya: This vast stationary store in Ginza is a great place to purchase modern or traditional Japanese stationary, including washi.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- Get essential travel insurance for Tokyo – World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)