Shopping in Japan
If you are looking for souvenirs from Japan you should read this.
Japan is a shopping paradise. Almost everything one can imagine, already exists here. From the most traditional costumes of Japanese culture, to the latest technology or the strangest gadgets on the market. Many of the revolutionary products come from this country and, although in many articles the prices are not very cheap, others can be much cheaper. The quality of its products is very good and its consumerist desire will make almost all stores open any day of the week. The chain shops named 100 Yen are some of the most frequented by travellers. They can be found in most cities and, in addition to their price, their wide variety is striking. In Tokyo one of the most frequented commercial areas is Akihabara, the commercial area where most of the electronic products can be found; also Shibuya, where you will find shopping centers and a variety of clothing stores. To buy crafts, teas or traditional Japanese costumes, Kyoto is one of the best cities.
Japan has a great variety of crafts made of wood, porcelain and ceramics. Some of the best selling products are kokeshi dolls, pai pai or chopsticks and bowls typical of Japanese cuisine. Also, traditional toys, made in wood by hand and painted in bright colours, are a charming souvenir. They are present in many homeware stores, in the big chains or in the markets, so their price will depend on the quality of them and their originality. In most of the sanctuaries, you can find beautiful handmade lucky amulets.
Japan has the strangest items: anti-stress keychains, umbrellas that cover your whole body, USB superheroes, decorative items, portable batteries of any shape or models and hi-tech beauty gadgets among a plethora of other products. In Tokyo, in the area of Akihabara, there are a variety of shops where you can buy weird and wonderful items. Also very popular are the 100 yen chain, better known as Donki, and where you can find the most surprising items.
Kimonos & Yukatas
Kimono and yukata are traditional Japanese costumes. They differ because the first one is usually made of silk, while the second is made of cotton. Although in the specialized stores the price can be somewhat high since the fabrics are of quality, there are other premises or second-hand markets where they can be purchased cheaper. One of the best is the Kitano Tenmangu sanctuary market in Kyoto. In Tokyo, one of the most traditional neighbourhoods where you can find typical items of the country is Asakusa.
This Japanese cat of good luck is one of the most sought-after items by travellers to Japan. The original is a white cat with one of the legs raised up, although the models can be as varied, as you can also find them in gold or silver. Most houses, restaurants or establishments have one of them, as it attracts happiness, success, prosperity and money. Although its origins have generated several versions, the most widespread is the story in which this cat saved a peasant by taking him to Tokyo's Gotoku-ji temple, it is said that this is where the original was buried in the cemetery of cats. The cat statues are sold in the temple itself so it is one of the best and most authentic places to buy one.
Japan is well known for its manga. This great industry has managed to cross the borders placing itself in one of the biggest money-making genres. The best area in Tokyo to spend hours browsing the latest titles and to find all kinds of figures, shirts or other items is Akihabara. Here you can find hundreds of shops where you can enjoy manga and anime. Also in Shibuya, where you can find the most famous comic book store in the world: Mandarake.
Japan has a wide array of stationery. Shops sell a plethora of pens, notebooks, original, papers with typical Japanese prints, manga folders or even the famous packs of origami. 100 yen stores sell plenty of stationery, although one of the most popular places to make these purchases in Japan is Tokyu Hands. These department stores have everything you need to create your crafts on paper such as models, origami, paintings and even jewellery, gardening or cooking, among other crafts.
One of Japan's flagship drinks is tea, especially green tea. They drink it both hot and cold and you can even buy it bottled. Generally, the flavour is a bit bitter, since it is not mixed with sugar. In infusions there are different types according to their quality, some of the best known are the gyokuro, Sencha and bancha. In Kyoto and its surroundings, there are small shops where we can find great quality green tea and also in the capital, in supermarkets or herbalists. Bottled tea can be purchased at most vending machines.
Japan is a paradise of technology, although this does not mean that the price is cheaper than back home. The best place to look for laptops, cameras or videos, music or mobile devices is in the area of Akihabara, also known as the electric city or robot city because in recent years they have had a great reception among the public for their technological goods. The popularity of this neighbourhood and its affluence has made many stores tax free.