Cool Stuff to Buy in Japan: 20 Souvenirs Actually Worth Buying

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After five trips to Japan, I’ve brought home my fair share of suitcases packed to the brim and bulging thanks to a bit too much shopping. If you’re wondering what Japanese souvenirs are truly worth bringing home, look no further. 

This is my curated list of the coolest, quirkiest and highest-quality things you can only buy in Japan. From traditional items to culinary delights, this is the ultimate list of what to buy in Japan (from someone who has bought them all!). 

Best Things to Buy in Japan 

Anime & Manga

Whether you are a seasoned manga enthusiast, casual anime fan or simply want a unique souvenir from Japan, this is a must buy in Japan. 

Japan boasts numerous specialty stores dedicated exclusively to anime and manga. Akihabara in Tokyo and Den Den Town in Osaka are the mecca for these stores with big-name mega stores like Animate and Mandarake offering an extensive selection. 

I’ve spent hours browsing the shelves at Mandarake in Akihabara! 

Large bookstores like Tsutaya and Kinokuniya also have dedicated sections for manga. 

Most of the manga will be in Japanese, we usually buy manga with interesting covers from the anime we watch, purely as a coffee table book and a memento. However, you might find some manga in English if you want to actually read it.  

Original Manga issue of popular anime titles
We picked up these manga to add to our collection on our last trip

Character Goods & Figurines

Another one for the Japanese anime fans – Japan has produced a figurine of every anime character possible. These collectibles make for a cool souvenir from Japan that you can keep on your desk to admire every day. 

Again, places like Akihabara in Tokyo and Osaka’s Den Den Town are the best places to find these. 

Many stores, like Liberty, have dedicated second-hand sections where you’ll find more unique and even rare figurines.

Naruto action figure
Second hand figurine shopping in Akihabara

Certain areas, like Tokyo Station’s Character Street, are dedicated to merchandise from specific anime.  Jump Shop is a popular chain with stores around Tokyo, Osaka Nagoya and other cities that sell figurines and merchandise from popular anime including One Piece, Naruto, Demon Slayer and My Hero Academia. 

One of my favourite things to do in Tokyo is spend countless hours at Japanese arcades and game centres.

You’ll also find the bottom floor of these arcade centres, like Taito Station and Gigo Arcade, have countless claw machines where you can try your hand at catching your favourite figurine or plush toy. 

Action figures of popular video game characters
Just a few of the figurines we’ve picked up over the years!

Gashapon Capsule Toys

You’ll find Gachapon, or “gacha gacha”, capsule vending machines everywhere in Japan. 

For usually 100-200 yen, insert your coins and spin the dial to eject a capsule from the machine. There are usually 5 options of particular characters or styles of toys, and you won’t know until you’ve spun the dial which one you’ll get! 

On my most recent trip in 2023, we visited the giant Gashapon no Depato in Ikebukoro’s Sunshine City, with over 3000 capsule toy machines!

Gashapon Capsule Toys from Bandai
You’ll find capsule machines all over Japan!

However, you don’t need to travel too far to find one. You’ll find gachapon machines in arcades, inside other stores, on shopping streets and even in front of convenience stores. 

You’ll find Gachapon dedicated to popular anime and manga series, as well as animals, everyday objects and other “kawaii” items. I currently have a toy from a gacha gacha on my key ring, which is a nice daily reminder of our adventures in Japan. 


Did you even go to Japan unless you visited a Pokemon store? 

No matter your age, the Pokemon store is worth a visit. They sell an extensive range of exclusive merchandise you won’t find elsewhere, including limited edition items and items including plush toys, clothing, stationary and even household items like plates and mugs.

Pokemon Centre in Ikebukoro
Pokemon Store in Sunshine City

Some are better than others, try to visit the Pokemon Mega Centers like the one in Sunshine City Ikebukuro. The one in Tokyo Station Character Street is convenient but small and gets crazy busy. 

Some of the larger stores also have video game areas or even a Pokemon Cafe.

Pokemon exclusive merchandise
How cute are these lucky dip capsules we grabbed from the Pokemon Store in Tokyo Station’s Character Street

Kit Kats

I have a confession to make – I’m obsessed with finding new flavours of Kit Kats while in Japan. 

This is one of those cool things you can only buy in Japan – unique Kit Kats in every flavour imaginable. I’m talking about every flavour from the expected (matcha) to the completely unexpected (sweet potato!). 

Some of the other flavours I’ve tried include strawberry, roasted tea, sake, sakura, rock melon, banana, cheesecake, apple and more! (I’ve lost count at this point).

It becomes a fun game to look out for new, limited edition and even special regional flavours. You’ll find them in convenience stores, Don Quijotes, souvenir shops and even at discount pharmacies.

Whatever flavour you choose, these make for an affordable and unique gift from Japan!

Japanese Snacks 

Another one of my favourite things to buy in Japan is Japanese snacks. It becomes a game each trip to find something new to try each time we visit the konbini (convenience store).

We will then make sure to purchase more of our favourites to take home with us. 

Some of my favourite snacks to buy include pocky sticks, chocolate nuts, fruit jellies, curry sauce (the ones that come in cubes in a packet) and Kinoko no Yama, chocolate-covered mushroom biscuits.

Here’s a sample of some of our previous hauls! 

Vintage Clothes    

Japanese thrifting is on another level. From shops selling designer vintage to cavernous second-hand stores with clothes hung neatly on hundreds of racks, thrift shopping in Japan is a unique experience. 

The go-to areas for vintage and thrift stores are Shimokitazawa and Harajuku in Tokyo (check out Cat Street and surrounds). 

Japanese thrift store in Tokyo

Custom Cup Noodles

This is a fun activity and keepsake in one! 

There are three Cup Noodle Museums in Japan where you can make your own cup noodles. We visited the one in Yokohoma, but there is also one near Osaka.

First you design and draw your own label, before picking your ingredients and watching your custom cup of noodles being assembled in front of you. Each cup of noodles costs 500 yen each, on top of the entrance fee to the museum (which is worth a visit regardless!). 

Kimono or Yukata

A kimono is a really special and memorable keepsake to buy in Japan. A more casual option, that might be more wearable at home, would be a Yukata. 

A proper kimono is made of silk, whereas yukatas are lighter, casual garments made of cotton.

My preference for a more useable gift is a yukata, which you might find yourself wearing when staying at a traditional ryokan or when visiting an onsen (hot spring).   

Yukatas can be found in shops throughout Japan, even in Don Quijote and the like. For a high-quality kimono, specialised stores can be found in Kyoto or department stores.

Kimonos and yukata
I loved this yukata that I wore at our ryokan in Atami Onsen


Japanese skincare is renowned for its high-quality and innovative products, many of which can be purchased in Japan at a much more affordable price than its Western counterparts. A skincare haul is one of the best things to buy from Japan! 

Don Quijote has entire floors dedicated to skincare, as do large pharmacies such as Matsumoto Kiyoshi and Tsuruha, and once again, even Yodobashi Camera sells a large range of skincare! 

I love buying skincare masks and the Melano CC Vitamin C from Don Quijote.

Sunscreen in Japan is also very lightweight. I’ve purchased the hydrating Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen several times. You can also find Shiseido and SK-II products at better prices compared to at home.  

Japanese Skin car products
My go-to Japanese skincare item – Melano CC Vitamin C

Stationery and Stickers

You can trust Japan to have many kawaii (cute) stickers and stationery. 

Visit dedicated specialty stores like Tokyu Hands, Itoya and Loft, which have multiple floors dedicated to different stationery options.

Visit Ginza Itoya, one of the oldest stationery stores in Tokyo, with aesthetic stationery merchandise spread over 12 floors.

A personal favourite of mine is B-Side Label stickers. They have branches around Tokyo but I make sure to visit their Harajuku store each time I’m in Tokyo. They have an astounding range of stickers, including popular anime and manga characters. 

Kawaii stickers from Japan
Some of my stickers and stationery purchases

USJ and Disneyland Merchandise

It’s almost impossible to visit Universal Studios Japan, Tokyo’s Disneyland or DisneySea and not walk away with at least one purchase. 

The shopping at both of these theme parks is pretty epic. From exclusive Mario-themed items at USJ’s Super Nintendo World to merchandise exclusive only to Tokyo’s Disneyland and DisneySea.

During special events and holidays, limited edition and seasonal merchandise is released that is only available to purchase at the park. 

Whatever you decide to buy, a memento from your time spent visiting these magical theme parks makes for a great souvenir from Japan. 

Nintendo World shop in USJ
It took all my willpower not to buy this headband at USJ!


In Australia, it is very difficult to get affordable, high-quality sake. Sake, Japanese rice wine, is one of my favourites – and we drink enough of it when visiting Japan! 

Buying sake in Japan is very affordable. You can purchase small bottles from convenience stores, sake breweries, department stores, and dedicated sake shops. 

A great way to work out what kind of style you like is to visit a sake market or sake bar, where you can sample numerous types of sake.

Bottles of Sake
Sake tasting in Osaka

Sake Set

One of my favourite things I purchased on my last trip to Japan was a sake set from the Ide Sake Brewery in Kawaguchiko. As avid sake drinkers, my husband and I had been looking for the perfect set to take home with us.

A sake set includes a tokkuri (sake flask) and ochoko (small sake cups). These come in a huge range of colours, styles and textures, making for a great souvenir or special gift from Japan. 

Sake shot glasses
Our new sake set purchased from Ide Sake Brewery in Fuji Five Lakes

Japanese Whisky

Japanese whisky is known worldwide for its quality and craftsmanship. It’s also usually very expensive to purchase outside of Japan! 

This makes for a great gift for the whisky-lover back at home, or for yourself to savour. The largest and most well-known distilleries are Suntory and Nikka. 

You can purchase whisky from the Konbini, which stocks both top-shelf and budget options in a range of sizes.

Most Don Quijote’s stock a range of domestic and international whisky, and even BIC Camera and Yodobashi sell whisky! The Food Court Basements of Department Stores have a liquor section which may include limited edition or gift pack-style whiskies, or visit the duty-free section at the airport before your departure. 

Assorted bottles of Japanese Whiskey
A little whisky shopping before getting the train in Kawaguchiko

Studio Ghibli 

If you’re a Studio Ghibli fan, the stores in Japan offer a magical shopping experience with a treasure trove of Ghibli-themed merchandise from the many movies of the acclaimed animation house.

These stores, named Donguri, can be found across cities in Japan and offer limited edition and exclusive items. We visited the store in Kyoto, found in the traditional streets in the Ninenzaka area. 

Just be warned – the prices aren’t cheap!

Studio Ghibli Character in Tokyo
Studio Ghibli stores feel like you’ve been transported into a Ghibli movie!

Tea Set

I love visiting the traditional tea houses in Japan and enjoying the art of pouring and enjoying tea from a traditional Japanese tea set. Japanese tea sets are known for their elegance, functionality and craftsmanship. 

If you’re a tea drinker, this might be one of the best things to bring back from Japan that you’ll use regularly and remind you of your trip.

Japanese tea set

You can purchase these from specialty stores in traditional cities like Kyoto and Uji, department stores, markets, chain stores like Tokyu Hands or sometimes even from the tea houses themselves. 

We spent an hour wandering the Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street in Osaka, which is a 150-metre-long shopping street lined with specialty stores selling every piece of kitchenware imaginable, including many tea sets. Tokyo has its version, the Kappabashi Street shopping precinct. 

Wondering how much we spent during 4 weeks in Japan? See my EXACT cost breakdown here!


I have bought many souvenirs from Japan home in the form of chopsticks. 

From Hello Kitty chopsticks with my birth year on them to fancier dark wood ones with a twisting dragon design, to these kawaii cat chopstick holders picked up on one of our trips. 

Chopsticks are found everywhere across Japan, and make for a nice souvenir to bring back home – and maybe even motivate you to try your hand at making some of your favourite Japanese meals, like katsu chicken or ramen!  

Japanese chopsticks

Kitchen Knife

I haven’t actually bought a kitchen knife in Japan, but it’s on my wishlist. We’ve spent a fair chunk of time admiring them in places like the Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street and even Tsukiji Market. 

Like many other items in Japan, the country is renowned for crafting high-quality knives known for their precision and sharpness. 

To buy a knife, I recommend doing a bit of research beforehand so you can go in with some idea of what you want and an idea of your budget – it can be pretty overwhelming otherwise!

Incredible japanese knife

Katana (Replica Japanese Samurai Sword)

On one of our earlier trips, my husband bought a replica katana, a traditional Japanese samurai sword. The real ones cost thousands of dollars, whereas this one was purchased from a souvenir store in Nara for probably no more than $100. 

On our most recent trip, visiting the Ninja Weapon Museum in Kanazawa (a really fun place to visit, if you’re visiting the city), they had a large range of high-quality replica katanas. 

The only thing to note is that you’ll need to let the airport staff know when checking in that you have a replica / decorative sword. Back in 2013 at the airport, we had our bag screened and they wanted to look at the sword. This caused a little bit of stress at the time due to the language barrier!

Artifact on display in Ninja Weapon Museum
The Ninja Museum in Kanazawa

Make sure you only buy a katana from a reputable store, and that they provide some form of documentation / certificate in both Japanese and English in case of any issues with customs. Replicas should be OK leaving Japan, but do some research about your home country’s rules as well for bringing them into the country (we had no issues bringing them back into Australia). 

If in doubt, specialised places like the Ninja Weapon Museum should be able to help in-store, and they can ship them to your home country as well. 

Buying a katana is one of those cool things to buy in Japan and will make an interesting and unique display at home. 

Tax-Free Shopping in Japan

Tourists are eligible for tax-free shopping under certain conditions. If you meet these conditions, you can purchase items excluding the 10% consumption tax

Instead of waiting to claim your refund at the airport upon your departure, many shops offer in-store tax-free shopping to make the process even easier to claim your refund at the point of purchase.  

Here’s a quick summary of what you need to know about getting the discount:

  • Minimum Purchase Requirement: Purchases that total 5,000 yen or more (excluding tax) in a single transaction are eligible for a tax refund
  • Show Your Passport: You’ll need to show your actual passport to process the transaction (not a copy)

Stores that offer in-store tax-free shopping include the famous Don Quijote, many major department stores, large chains like Uniqlo, and electronic retailers like Yodobashi Camera and Bic Camera. 

Look for the tax-free logo near the entrance of the store.

Japan Tax-free shop

Final Thoughts – Must Buys in Japan

Whether it’s a unique Japanese treat haul, a fine Japanese whisky or something longer lasting like a Japanese kitchen knife, I hope this list has given you some inspiration for cool things to get from Japan (that are actually worth buying). 

For me, it’s so special to have so many daily reminders of our many happy days spent in Japan in everyday life, from my nerdy anime toy keychain, manga on the bookshelf and chopsticks in the kitchen. 

If you need help planning a memorable trip to Japan, make sure to check out my other Japan guides below. Happy adventuring! 

Resources to help you plan your Japan adventures:

My tried and tested recommendations to make your next trip easier

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