I hope you paid for luggage when you bought your airfare because Tokyo is the ultimate shopping dream zone and you are going home with extra kilos in your suitcase.
Somewhat surprisingly, it’s our favourite city to travel with kids too. (Except for the trains. SO. MANY. TRAINS. And quiet, hushed train platforms where everyone is suitably restrained and well-mannered. My rowdy wrestle-mad Australian boys in amongst those polite, quiet passengers = a form of unbearable torture. But more on that another time…)
Tokyo is a place that blows your mind with zillions of mind-blowing things to spend your money on. No matter your style or taste, or whether you prefer fashion, technology and gadgets, fun or quirky stuff for life and the home, cute food, or shoes.
Where are the authentic Japanese souvenirs?
BUT, when it comes to finding beautiful, artistic, or traditional souvenirs in classic Japanese textiles, patterns and prints, things made with Japanese craftsmanship and style, there’s limited choices in the city, and you really have to hunt to find them.
We know the place to go for charming souvenir items to buy in Japan.
But wait. Stop what you are doing right now. We have the solution. We know THE best place for finding authentic Japanese souvenirs in Tokyo – it’s called Oriental Bazaar.
What to buy in Japan? Tourist Souvenir Ideas
Oriental Bazaar is a funny choice of name for this elegant, refined, and orderly Japanese souvenirs store. I first visited as a 15 year old, back in 1988, while on a school trip. 25 + years later, this Japanese souvenirs shop retains its crown as the premiere world-class location for Japanese souvenirs to take home for friends, family, and colleagues. In fact, it’s nickname is Chamber of Handicrafts.
It has everything – a one-stop shop including antiques, samurai swords, armour and helmets, ceramic lamps, antique kimonos, quirky knick knacks, towels, handkerchiefs, kitchenware, t-shirts, and chopsticks. You don’t have to go anywhere else, except to stock up on your favourite Japanese snacks (Note: green tea kitkats, Milky lollies, and lots of Pocky varieties.)
But if you do want to, we’d recommend a visit to the souvenir shop at Meiji Jingu shrine- it’s another unexpectedly good spot for Japanese souvenirs shopping and traditional Japanese sweets in pretty packages.
Popular Japanese souvenirs we love
Our family can never leave Japan without:
- a new Daruma doll (or three).
A Daruma, according to the folk at We Love Daruma, is a “traditional handmade Japanese wishing doll (charmingly referred to as a “GOAL DOLL”) that keeps you focused on achieving your goal! Darumas are modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism, 1500 years ago, and represent the silhouette of Bodhidharma in deep meditation, sitting in the customary zazen position. Daruma is closely associated with a beloved Japanese proverb, Nana korobi yaoki, which states, Fall down seven times, get up eight. The Daruma doll’s unique rounded shape allows it to return to its original position even if knocked over, representing such persistence.”
This centuries-old tradition begins by choosing a goal. When you’ve done this, you lock in your commitment to this goal by colouring in one of the Daruma’s white eyes, and placing him in a prominent spot in your home, where you’ll see him daily, narrowing his focus to the goal and reminding you to do the same. When your goal is achieved, after all your hard work and effort, you colour in the other eye on the Daruma to thank him for his support. Miniature ones cost less than 300 yen each, while a large one hovers around the 1000 mark ($10 AUD)
- more Lucky cat ornaments. Japanese Lucky Cats, or Maneki Neko, are believed to be a lucky charm by the Japanese people, to bring good fortune and happiness. We’ve heard a rumour that if the cat’s right arm is raised, it invites and beckons money. If the cat’s left arm is raised, it invites people and community. They make super cute Japanese souvenirs too. (While you are in Japan, stop by the Gotokuji Cat Temple – it’s the land of the lucky cat.
- another Kokeshi doll. The most adorable of all Japanese souvenirs we know.
- additions to our collection of Japanese tablewear. I just cannot resist a teeny-tiny blue and white soy sauce dish, or a ceramic rice bowl.
What to buy in Japan for kids – Games and toys
- Ninja Costume Dress Up for boys
- Movable Toys – they stock the “Going Down the Tracks Walking Ninja Doll” and a “Rolling Daruma” toy
- Paper Balloons
- Spinning Tops
- Koi No Bori flags or carp-shaped wind socks that are traditionally flown to mark Children’s Day, but are just cute any day of the year
- A kendama is a cup and ball string toy that came to Japan in the 1700s and is popular with children
- A yukata summer kimono, with an obi waistband, tabi toe socks, and geta (the wooden clog-like shoes).
- Japanese erasers. Even the eraser gets a cute makeover in Japan. You can buy rubber erasers shaped as pieces of sushi, daruma dolls, a traditional obentoo lunch box, japanese sweets, and koi fish too. Kids love them, even if they don’t make much sense to us.
Japanese souvenirs for women
- Foldable Sensu fans. Invented in Japan, and made of Japanese paper or cloth fixed to a collapsible frame of bamboo or wood, Oriental Bazaar has quite a selection. They also stock Uchiwa hand-held fans, perfect for anyone who feels the heat.
- A traditional kimono or summer yukata
- Hair accessories – made from a combination of resin and/or traditional Japanese fabric, they stock pretty flower-centric hair pins known as Kanzashi, plus hair clips, hair ties, hair bands, and hair slides.
- Ceramic dishes, mugs, tea services, and cutlery
- Hand towels, and handkerchiefs
- Pretty fabric bags and delicate purses in all shapes and sizes, made from patterned japanese textiles and linen
- Lettersets and stationery items
Japanese souvenirs for men
- A traditional kimono or summer yukata
- For a laugh, and a soft clean complexion, the man of the house might like a kabuki face mask
- Nunogoyomi towels – for use in the bath, or to drape around the neck to collect sweat as you work. Failing that, they make fabulous kitchen cleaning cloths being so absorbent.
- Unique T-shirts with prints of large kanji characters.
Cute souvenirs for everyone else
- Japanese key chains and phone charms
- Onamori are Japanese amulets, charms or talismans (commonly sold at religious sites) that Japanese people buy as a request for luck or protection.
- A Tenugui is a thin Japanese hand towel made of cotton.It is typically about 35 by 90 centimeters in size, plain woven and is almost always dyed with some pattern. Tenugui can be used as a decorative placemat or hall table runner, placed under a vase of fresh flowers, turned into artwork by hanging it as a scroll, or wrapped around wine bottles when serving. Traditionally, Japanese men have often wrapped these cloths around the head as a headband to keep hair and sweat out of their eyes, and they are still used as a head covering in kendo, where it functions as a sweatband, as extra padding beneath the headgear, and to identify the participants by team colour.
- Visit the book corner at Oriental Bazaar to find books about Japanese history and culture.
- If you get stuck, chopsticks are your backstop.
The Inside Scoop – Oriental Bazaar Japanese Souvenirs
- Address is 9-13 5-chome Jingumae Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0001 Japan. Located directly opposite Omotesando Hills shopping centre, and just a hundred metres down to the left from Kiddyland as you face it from Harajuku’s main shopping area.
- Opening hours: 10:00A.M.-7:00P.M daily. Closed Every Thursday
- By Train – JR Yamanote Line Harajuku Station – approx. 5-min. walk from the Omotesando Exit
- By Metro – Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line (Omotesando Station) – approx. 4-min. walk from Exit B4 or Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line (Meiji-jingumae Station) – approx. 3-min. walk from Exit 4
Looking for MORE SUPER DOOPER FUN places to visit and stuff to do in TOKYO with kids?
Click the links in blue below.