Although Japan is a beautiful country with many exotic spots, we won't discuss about tourist destinations in this post. Instead, let's take a look at some souvenirs that you should buy when traveling there, which really highlight some typical aspects of Japan.
Dolls and Statues
Have you ever seen a cat statue that beckons with its right paw? It's called Maneki-neko, a common Japanese figurine that acts as a lucky charm that brings good luck to its owner. Maneki-neko can easily be found in any gift shop in Japan, and available in many sizes and materials.
Daruma dolls or dharma dolls also a popular Japanese traditional souvenir. These dolls are modeled after Bodhidarma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. A daruma doll is sold without drawing the eyes. The buyer then draws the first eye while making a wish, and later draw the second eye only after the wish is fulfilled.
Besides those two, there are still plenty of famous Japanese dolls and statues, such as Tanuki statue, warrior doll, and Ichimatsu doll.
Garments and Fabrics
Kimono is Japanese traditional clothing that usually only worn in special occasions, so it might not too suitable as souvenirs. But for everyday use, there is yukata, a casual summer kimono for men and women which usually made of cotton or synthetic fabric. While wearing yukata, don't forget to use geta as well. It's Japanese traditional sandal with an elevated wooden base held onto the foot with a fabric thong to keep the foot well above the ground.
For fabric souvenir that has more practical function, tourist can always choose tenugui. It's a thin Japanese hand towel made of cotton. Tenugui is usually drawn with various beautiful patterns. It can be used as a washcloth, dishcloth, headband, souvenir or decoration.
Japan is famous for farming Akoya pearl oysters. They have been farmed for nearly 100 years, and the pearls are known for their luster and round appearance. They are the most lustrous of all pearls worldwide, and their near-perfect roundness are highly prized, especially in the form of jewelry.
One example of these jewelry that mostly loved by women is akoya earrings. Pearls used for these earrings usually have size ranged between 7-8 mm, which is the perfect size to highlight the beauty of akoya pearls. Fortunately, you don't need to go to Japan if you wish to purchase akoya jewelry, as there are merchants where you can buy them online.
Akoya earrings from www.pearlsonly.com
Although jewelry made of Japanese Akoya pearls can be found all around the world nowadays, buyer still need to be careful about their genuineness. The easiest way in identifying Japanese Akoya Pearls is through the famous Japanese Akoya Blue Tag issued by the Japanese Government. This blue tag can only be obtained in Japan, by presenting the pearls to a Japanese government officials for inspection.
Don't think about Japanese video games if you want to buy toys as souvenirs, but choose traditional ones that you can't get outside Japan. Kites and koinobori (carp-shaped wind socks) are very suitable for those who love outdoor activities. For those who fancy sports, then hagoita is a good choice. It's a wooden paddle, used to play the traditional Japanese game Hanetsuki, a game resembling badminton without the net. Hagoita are also good as gift as a lot of them are now richly decorated with various characters.
Another popular traditional toy is kendama, which consists of two wooden cups of different sizes placed on the center of a wooden spike and smaller cup with a ball connected by a string. The objective of this toy is to catching one object with another, where both are joined by a string. There are national competitions for kendama in Japan.
That's it for popular souvenirs of Japan. Don't forget that besides the four categories mentioned in the above article, there are still plenty other souvenirs to chose. Samurai sword replica, noh mask, porcelain, furin (Japanese wind bell), and bento box are some other examples of gift idea when you travel to Japan.