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Earlier in the year we brought you Japanese people’s best souvenir recommendations for foreigners, in which items like folding fans, Japanese wagashi sweets, and even traditional swords were featured. But what do visitors to Japan themselves choose as the best things to buy as a memento of their trip, or take back for their friends at home? The answers may surprise you!


Japanese site Naver Matome asked foreign visitors to Japan what their top souvenir choices were. First up…

1) Sushi that’s not sushi
You can’t take real sushi home with you, but you can buy all kinds of sushi-themed gift items! Japan is bursting with toys and gadgets in the shape of plastic sushi. These good-enough-to-eat USB memory sticks, for example:

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Or these adorable kits (ostensibly for kids) to make candy that’s shaped like sushi:

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2) Mosquito coil pigs
These distinctive dark green insect-repelling coils, called katori senkō, and the ceramic pigs who hold them, can be a heady nostalgic memento of Japanese summers.

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3) Hot water bottle

What’s that you say? You have hot water bottles in your home country? Not like this you don’t. Japan’s hot water bottles aren’t made of nice squishy rubber that you can cuddle up with at night. They’re moulded from hard plastic, just like a bottle:

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4) Stove top protectors
Sure, you could protect your stove top by covering it with aluminium foil, and pick it off bit by bit every time you clean it. Or, you could buy a set of these handy covers, which fit snugly onto the stove top like a giant bib. Probably better as a souvenir for yourself, as we suspect these wouldn’t be so well received as a gift for your loved one.

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5) Nail clippers
Perhaps surprisingly, the non-Japanese visitors felt that nail clippers would make a good souvenir. Take for example these ones, which feature a slightly freaky-looking magnifying glass to help you get those talons trimmed real neat.

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6) Takoyaki machine
Another one that might be hard to fit in your luggage home. Foreign tourists said they wanted to take a machine to make takoyaki (octopus dumplings) back home with them!

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7) Kotatsu
This one’s even bigger! Way too big for your suitcase. We can only assume the respondents were a bit delirious from sitting too long under one of these amazing heated low tables.

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8) Pickles
Tsukemono, or Japanese pickles, are preserved vegetables served as sides to a main meal, or with drinks as a snack. It’s not clear whether the visitors in question were taking tsukemono home to share a newfound favourite food with their friends, or just to make their friends eat something weird and new.

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9) Cool Fanta, Calpis concentrate
Japan has a plethora of exciting Fanta flavours not available in other countries, which change seasonally, too. Don’t take too many with you though, or you’ll risk maxing out the weight limit on your checked luggage.

▼ Fanta Grape and Fanta Muscat

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And of course we couldn’t go without mentioning Calpis, loved by English-speakers everywhere for its fermented milky taste and its funny-sounding name (say it out loud if you don’t believe us).

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10) Neko coin bank
Last but not least, visitors to Japan said they wanted to take home this amazing kitty bank! When you put a coin on top of the box of mikan oranges in which this cute cat is hiding, he pops up from under the cardboard to grab your money!

▼ Perfect for saving up for your next bout of souvenir-buying.

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While we’re pretty sure people haven’t stopped buying traditional items like fans and chopsticks to take home, some of these choices were pretty surprising! What do you think the best souvenir to get from Japan is? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Naver Matome
Top image: Whiterabbitexpress
Other images: 
aliexpresshannari-yapissingglitterPiyotomoRakutensp-friendsJapan Trend Shopkotatu-futon,  Wikimedia CommonsShunyan, Just Hungryzige blog