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Gifts to Bring Back to America

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
183 posts
95 reviews
39 helpful votes
Gifts to Bring Back to America

I will be in Japan on business (again), and I was wondering if anyone had any ideas of unique gifts to bring back to America. Given the global world that we live in, I am finding it harder and harder to find anything worth carrying back.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
506 posts
135 reviews
78 helpful votes
1. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

Its childish be we brought back 15 different types of kit kats that was a huge hit with friends and coworkers.

For the grown ups, maybe some sake?

Philadelphia...
Level Contributor
6,998 posts
27 reviews
28 helpful votes
2. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

I've brought back small lacquer-ware boxes and the like. I've found them in shops in Narita airport (not all real lacquer but nice).

If you find yourself in Asakusa, there's a store that sells mostly pottery but also some real lacquer ware (I buy pottery there, but you would need to pack carefully). Nearby is a store selling tradition fans, masks, bamboo items. I much prefer these to the souvenir shops on Nakamise, the pedestrian road to the temple. The second paragraph of this post has Google links, including interior panoramic photos (just give them a few seconds to load, then you can pan and zoom around the store): tripadvisor.com/…49398423

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
183 posts
95 reviews
39 helpful votes
3. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

I almost forgot about those. I love the Kit Kats! Mmmm, Chrysanthemum flavor. Didn't care for the Sweet Potato, though.

San Francisco...
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5,503 posts
24 reviews
28 helpful votes
4. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

Ceramics! Hakusan has shops in Tokyo and Osaka.

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
183 posts
95 reviews
39 helpful votes
5. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

Thanks, Ceramics could work, and I vaguely remember walking around Asakusa a few years and seeing some interesting shops off of Nakamise, so I will try to check that area out again.

Queenstown, New...
Level Contributor
4,785 posts
61 reviews
61 helpful votes
6. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

In the basements of department stores there are all the food goodies; it's always nice to get some of the gift boxes of cookies. There are sweet cookies, and japanese style rice crackers and all sorts. Boxes come in many sizes, and often the packaging is beautiful... and you can get themes for the areas/ seasons etc

Another, very japanese, option are handtowels; again many beautiful designs and patterns.

You could go into Loft or Village Vanguard and find quirky modern japanesey items... I've got plants that you can grow in a PET bottle... for example...

I often just end up in the conbini (convenience stores) and get funny seasonal snacks... apple pie potato chips, flavoured kitkats, seasonal koala-no-machi, etc etc...

If you see a Kustushita-ya (sock shop) I sometimes get socks; there are some lovely designs, so different (well compared to NZ!)

As with all japanese shops, half the present is in the wrapping... LOVE their gift wrapping... got do it, even if it's just for myself!!!

.
Level Contributor
1,667 posts
27 reviews
66 helpful votes
7. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

> I am finding it harder and harder to find anything worth carrying back< Losangelesdude you must have been walking around in Japan with your eyes shut ;)

Japan is THE place for craft & high quality products you won't get anywhere else. Not mention anything quirky & crazy.

Some of my under 40 age group acquaintances (some people never grow up) have enjoyed getting plastic model figures of Japanese anime characters & toys. Go retro with Gozilla? Ultraman? Besides toy shops & Otaku (geek) shops, try dept store toy sections & Tokyo Station even has a whole floor devoted to character goods.

Bookshops in the English section sell Manga in translation or books on Japan.

If you are in one of those fancy 5 star hotels or even at the tourist hotels like the Prince - they all have souvenir shops with a selection of items.

But I'm with pineapplesensei, Go straight to a Department store for nice gifts. Food hall basements sell famous Japanese brand items all beautifully packaged food gifts - everything from award winning artisanal chocolates, the best traditional Japanese wagashi (sweets items), Japanese cookies/biscuits, senbei savoury rice crackers. Or some high quality fresh Japanese tea - not the stale rubbish you get in tea bags overseas. - Yes, the packaging alone is worth it!

Are they cooks? How about organic, gourmet soy sauce? or condiments? Seaweed? katsuobushi?

How about a Japanese style teapot? A kitchen knife? Sake set (cups & bottle) Homewares floors (around 6F or 7F) will sell items that make excellent gifts: chopsticks, a selection of fine lacquerware, bamboo products, Pottery items - dishes, cups, knick-knacks like vases. Glassware. And they'll pack them nicely too. Stationary area will sell sublime incense, special Japanese paper products & craft. You might see lovely calendars.

How about a tasteful folding fan (sensu) or Japanese Uchiwa fan? - available in styles for both men & women.

How about Japanese geta wooden shoes or slippers?

Of course you can go to somewhere like Oriental Bazaar on Omotesando for some typically kitsch souvenirs i.e. ninja tshirts or polyester yukata (light cotton kimono)

For small gifts: convenience store chewing gum & snacks. Or yeah the obligatory kit kats.

The Narita terminal is full of last minute kitsch - samurai keychains or katana letter opener anyone? And nobody can fly out without chocolate coated potato chips!

(Don't know how you got those pet bottle plants back into NZ pineapplesensei.)

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
183 posts
95 reviews
39 helpful votes
8. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

Craft and high quality products are exactly what I am looking for, as opposed to kitsch, but it is hard to find the right item. I've looked at a number of the department stores in Ginza and Shinjuku, but I am looking for something else. Part of my problem is that I have already bought some of these recommendations. I've found nice hand carved wood items at an outdoor market in Ueno, but that was just luck to stumble upon. I've also found some nice glass and pottery items, but I'm still searching for that perfect piece.

I always hit Kiddy Land or Hakuhinkan for the kids, but now that I can even get a lot of that stuff in Los Angeles.

The food items or kitchenware would be good, but I can get the vast majority of that in Los Angeles. About the only (importable) food product that I've seen in Japan that I can't get in LA is pure Yuzu juice.

I think I have been to Loft outside Tokyo Station before, but it might be worth a try again for quirky modern. Village Vanguard in Shibuya looks interesting as something to see if nothing else.

Philadelphia...
Level Contributor
64 posts
1 review
3 helpful votes
9. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

"I think I have been to Loft outside Tokyo Station before, but it might be worth a try again for quirky modern. Village Vanguard in Shibuya looks interesting as something to see if nothing else."

Just a note character street is located on the first avenue of Tokyo Street. It is also where you can find Japanese flavored kit kats. They also have a lot of Ramen shops in this area. This might be a good place to shop for kids. Although I don't really know what you have in LA because I felt Kiddy Land and Character Street are somewhat comparable, except what you find in one store in Kiddy Land is spread among several stores in Tokyo Station. There is definitely a lot of cute stuff there.

"Bookshops in the English section sell Manga in translation or books on Japan."

If the books are in English then you can get them on Amazon as well.

Queenstown, New...
Level Contributor
4,785 posts
61 reviews
61 helpful votes
10. Re: Gifts to Bring Back to America

Elly M; I don't know how I go them in either! Didn't even think about it until I already had them here... !!!!

But most the packed cookies are fine, I'd be cautious of seaweed- anything...

OP; if. You're from LA, then yeah, I've heard there are great Japanese supermarkets/ shops there... So you really need to look for the area specific specialities.

I've bought some beautiful handmade glasses (for water etc) and they're a bit hit.

Otherwise, having bought many gifts over the years the cookies end up being the go-to... Everyone enjoys them, something that doesn't end up sitting in the cupboard because it 'doesn't go with the receivers decor' or 'something they'd never actually use or properly appreciate'.