Souvenirs For Every Person in Your Life
But doing so is easier said than done, especially when you're traveling in a new area and are unfamiliar with what souvenirs to buy for whom. That's why I've divided this article into three categories: acquaintances, people in the workplace, and close friends/relatives. A good rule of thumb is: the closer you are to that person, the more effort and thought you should put into the gift. With that in mind, let's jump straight into it!
Acquaintances (a.k.a. most of the people on your Facebook friend's list)
A: B-san, what are you plans for Golden Week?
A: That sounds really fun! Don't forget to get me a souvenir *wink* (probably just kidding)
B: *laughs* Of course! (not really sure if person is half-joking, half-serious)
So now you're in a situation where you're not sure if that acquaintance is really actually expecting something from you when you come back from your trip. Luckily, there are many cheap options for buying souvenirs for friends you're not exactly close to.
Kit Kat chocolates
I prefer buying these because they are significantly cheaper than the ones sold in the box packaging, usually less than 300 yen per package. In addition to green tea, they also sell other flavors such as strawberry, raspberry, and other seasonal flavors.
Stationery and Small Items from 100 Yen Shops
Compact mirrors from Daiso (108 yen each):
Cute mini-notebooks from Daiso (108 yen each):
Smartphone accessories from Daiso:
Cheap Facial Masks from Drugstores
Also under the same brand are these pads that you place on your lips to moisturize them. They are also around 100 yen at most drugstores.
People in the Workplace (a.k.a. you have to see their faces almost everyday so might as well make the experience pleasant)
Whenever someone took vacations at my previous internship office, we would always look forward to when they return because it usually meant one thing: free treats for everyone. Our office had a common space where people would place whatever souvenirs they brought from overseas for other people to freely take. It's a scientific fact (not really, but enough evidence exists to prove otherwise) that people are in a much better mood when they have food in their stomach. If you return to the office with treats in hand, you'll be sure to make everyone's day a little happier.
Yoku Moku Cookies
Japanese Sweets such as Hiyoko Manju
Tea Gift Sets for the Boss
Close Friends/Relatives (a.k.a. the people I actually want to buy souvenirs for)
She is also a huge fan of the Royce Nama Chocolate which melt in your mouth and must usually be consumed shortly after purchasing. They come in various flavors such as green tea, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate, but white chocolate is the ultimate fan favorite in my home. You can almost always find them at any airport throughout Japan and they sell special tote bags that keep the chocolates chilled while you're traveling.
My father on the other hand has more of a salty tooth but finds American potato chips to be too salty for his preferences. A popular type of salty snack that can be found in Japan is called senbei which is essentially rice crackers. When I visited Hokkaido last year, I found these tasty okaki rice crackers that came in unusual flavors such as uni (sea urchin) and hotate (scallop) which are both famous in the Hokkaido region.
Unfortunately for me, neither of my parents drink alcohol (at least not with the same vigor and enthusiasm as I do) so I usually never bring back Japanese sake. But if your parents or in-laws are ones to enjoy fine spirits, then bringing back a nice bottle of nihonshu would be a great souvenir. But let's be honest, bottles are heavy and fragile, making them not very travel-friendly. In that case, these Japanese sake that come in barrels rather than bottles are a cuter and more convenient alternative. After you've finished drinking all of the sake, you can keep the container as a nice little display.
For grandparents, a nice teapot set would be a lovely gift, such as this Nanbu cast iron teapot originally produced in the Iwate Prefecture of Japan. They are usually more on the pricier side (around 7,000 yen) but these teapots are highly durable and made to last a very long time.
For younger children, a great place to buy souvenirs is Kiddy Land which is a shop that sells many products and toys featuring famous Japanese characters such as Hello Kitty, Doraemon and Rilakkuma. It's hard not to feel like a little kid again once you enter Kiddy Land because you'll be wanting to buy everything. Not really into the cutesy stuffed toys? No problem, there's an entire floor in the Kiddy Land Harajuku branch dedicated to Star Wars.
The Disney Store in Japan also has many cute products for children and even adults. A great souvenir item to give to kids is the Disney Tsum Tsum stuffed toys as they are small and adorable and they cost around 500 yen each.
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