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Japanese gifts most wanted by foreigners

By Mike

As a foreign resident of Japan, I take occasional trips back home. And on such occasions, I almost always find myself at a surprising loss for ideas when souvenir shopping for friends stateside.

Sure, there are obvious choices: "Hentai" manga makes a great gag gift, for example, but you’re bound to go on some kind of watch list if customs decides to randomly inspect your luggage. Yukata seem universally appreciated by new-agey aunts, and quirky Japanese toys are great for kids. But foolproof, sure-to-please-anybody gifts are surprisingly hard to pick out.

Luckily, a Japanese reporter at Excite Japan, who travels frequently and thus has lots of souvenir purchasing experience, has revealed the top Japanese gifts most likely to please friends and family abroad.

Anything with kanji on it

This one is a no-brainer, as foreigners seem to attribute near-mystical powers to words spelled out in Japanese characters – especially the cheesy ones like “love,” “power,” “family,” and “fried chicken,” the last of which has almost certainly ended up tattooed on a lot of frat kids’ arms.

Just don’t come to Japan expecting to pick up a bunch of kanji T-shirts for friends; you’ll quickly find that the Japanese are more partial to T-shirts featuring hilarious, mangled English, so the only kanji ones you’ll find are mass-produced garbage for gullible tourists.

Food samples and sushi magnets

Those super-realistic plastic food samples sitting on display outside of damn near every Japanese restaurant really are a marvel of art and technology, and are endlessly fascinating to us foreigners. Just tell your friends on the receiving end not to let them sit too long in direct sunlight, or that delicious plastic spaghetti sculpture will share the same fate as that box of Crayolas you left on the sidewalk when you were a kid.

Mini-size goods

Like the sometimes disappointingly small portions at Japanese restaurants, a lot of Japanese goods come in mini-size – which is often a good thing for friends that are constantly on the move. Mini shampoo bottles, mini shaving cream, mini styling kits; you can find a lot of daily commodities in tiny versions here. Honestly, though, we don’t see how this is any different from shoveling the contents of a hotel medicine cabinet into your luggage.


Omiyage is the name given to traditional Japanese souvenirs – almost always food items that come individually wrapped inside ornately decorated boxes. A lot of these go great with tea, come in unique flavors, or are specific to a region of Japan, making for a unique and portable gift that will surely be appreciated.

So whether you’re coming to Japan for a short visit, or vice versa, be sure to pack up some of the above for friends and family on the way out, as well as some hentai manga to plant on your childhood enemy’s doorstep.

Source: Excite News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Videos Show Skill Behind Japanese Food Replicas -- Custom-Made Sushi Slippers, Fortune Cookie Booties, and Nunchuck Pillows -- Oh, Japan, You Make Me So Mad Sometimes!

© RocketNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment has some companies selling good-quality t-shirts with lots of different kanji on them. If you live here and are going overseas, a bit of planning means no last-minute shopping or regrettable tat. Ditto if you're visiting - I imagine if you set up an account to deliver to your hotel/a friend's house, you could save yourself some stress.

The bigger department store food sections will have a much better selection of omiyage snacks than a souvenir shop will, too.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

White rabbit press has lots of good stuff for sale as well.

But, most of my buddies (not family) ask for one thing, and one thing only:

Japanese Porn

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

But, most of my buddies (not family) ask for one thing, and one thing only: Japanese Porn

Have you told them about the internet? It's free, and they don't have to wait for you to bring it to them.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

"Cow" soap by Kanebo used to be a big hit...

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also "Tenga" is big outside Japan. I can't explain what "Tenga" is here.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

My Chinese students (who, I assume are listed under 'foreigner') are always on the lookout for any product not made in China. Not easy to find. And kanji on a t-shirt? Not so exotic when you can actually read it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

In my early trips back home to the States, I gave regular souvenir-type presents ... plastic items, pottery, glassware, t-shirts, etc. Upon returning home again, I never saw these items on display ... or being worn.

So I found out through experience that the best presents are things to eat ... such as osembi (rice crackers), strawberry/chocolate-coated pretzels, sweets ... things that are eaten here in Japan but are either hard to find or can't be found back home. That way everybody enjoys a taste of Japan ... and nothing has to be stored away ... or, perhaps, discarded.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I fly home to Hawaii three or four times a year on business, and though Japanese stuff is far from unusual in the islands, people seem to like some of the things they can't find there, like the seasonal varieties of KitKat (wasabi, anyone?). Also, this company's t-shirts have been a big hit with friends (especially the buta series):

They even have a few larger sizes!

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1 ( +2 / -1 )

I like things with strange English phrases on them. If you want Kanji, there is a chain of shops in the UK that sells goods with 極度乾燥(しなさい)written on them. The really dopey get tattoos of random Chinese characters.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"T-shirts featuring hilarious, mangled English"

I saw a good one today: FUKK

No, wait, that wasn't the good one, the good one was "My secret password is... ( a drawing of three hearts )."

But before that I saw another one, worn by an attractive young lady: "I am your new addiction"

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The best t shirt I ever saw was "SUCK" written in big black letters on a white too-small tight t shirt stretched over a well-endowed woman's breasts. Actually I was embarrassed for her if she didn't know what it meant, and wanted to tell her but of course didn't. The second best was "All vampires tumble!" which just makes me laugh. The worst was "Come and shave me!" on an elementary school girl's t shirt.

Omiyage- yeah, food, alcohol, tea (but bottled, not leaves, they can't seem to get into brewing it over there.) are best. The Sumo Mugs or posters if you want kanji. (the reprint of the banner of wrestlers' names on cups at sushi places). I tried whale jerky (like beef jerky) as a gag, but it didn't go over well. Another good one is the daruma dolls. Just a round head with two white eyes, you color in a black dot to make an eye on one and make a wish, or goal, and when it comes true, color in the other eye.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

For my family and friends, the favorite omiyage they all expect to get after my visits to Japan are Yoku Moku cookies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My souvenir was always untranslated manga, a set of hand made tea cups, and of course those wonderful munchies. get what matters folks. Food is a win, so is pottery, dishes etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Asse and Colon chocolates and "homo sausages" are always a big hit. (Yes - they do exist!)

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borschtJul. 03, 2013 - 11:00AM JST

My Chinese students (who, I assume are listed under 'foreigner') are always on the lookout for any product not made in China. Not easy to find. And kanji on a t-shirt? Not so exotic when you can actually read it.

I am not sure where you or your students look, but it is very easy to find products in Japan that are NOT "made in China." I was there a couple of months ago and found all kinds of things that are uniquely Japanese, made in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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