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!
If you’re looking for a unique Japanese gift that’s light in your luggage but heavy in tradition, then this is the item for you. It’s called the KD Daruma (Knock-Down Daruma) and it’s modelled on the centuries-old, round, good-luck talisman which symbolises Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. This modern take on the daruma features a flat-pack design and clever assembly so unusual it’s just been awarded first prize as Japan’s most fascinating souvenir in a competition held by the Japan Tourism Agency. We take a closer look at the details to see what makes this little novelty so charming.
- Michelle Lynn Dinh
Sep 6, 2013
Shimane Prefecture, ever heard of it? If your answer is a resounding “no,” you’re not alone. The oddly shaped prefecture stretching along the western coast of Japan is barely known within its own country, let alone abroad. But one disgruntled mascot is out to bring Shimane’s shortcomings to light, making fun of the prefecture’s lack of popularity and population, and giving the area a little boost in positive publicity online.
- Master Blaster
Jun 8, 2013
Who doesn’t like to kick back and enjoy a chocolate chip cookie every once in a while? Every country has a go-to brand of prepackaged chewy chocolate chip cookies. You know, the kind that you can put in the toaster over and make all warm and gooey… ahh yes.
In Japan the leading brand of these cookies has got to be Country Ma’am. Although they’re eternally available in plain (called vanilla), chocolate chip, and double chocolate chip flavors, this line of cookies is well known for its countless limited-time-only specialty flavors such as strawberry, cheesecake, iced tea, pancake, pumpkin, and green tea to name but a few.
However, this time they are coming out with two specialty flavors based on a pair of traditional Japanese desserts, to create a truly Japanese chocolate chip cookie experience.
Tourist shops everywhere in Japan are filled with colorful boxes of local sweets that are perfectly portioned for sharing. These are omiyage. At work, it’s almost expected that you bring back a box of omiyage filled with a specialty product from the area your business trip took place in, and friends and family often purchase omiyage for those who weren’t able to make the trip. Many argue that giving omiyage is a distinctly Japanese custom; Yuichiro Suzuki, author of Omiyage and the Railway, explains in an interview with Yahoo! Japan.
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