It doesn't count as shopping if it's for someone else.
(But we won't tell if you keep some.)
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Omamori - Good Luck Charms
These little amulets can be found at Buddhist temples or Shinto Shrines. They are charms that either protect you from danger and disease, or brings luck in school, work, or love. There are also many other specific types of charms, from everything to passing exams to having a safe birth (what it's for is written on the omamori).
A Daruma is a small round doll with no limbs. It will sit back up even if you tilt it, which is supposed to have a meaning of success. It is often picked out as a gift for someone who is competing or fighting for something. The recipient fills in one eye with black ink, and when they succeed, the other eye is filled in.
(Photo Copyright: ©A.Sasaki/ ©JNTO)
Maneki-neko – Beckoning Cat
The maneki-neko is a cat sitting up with one of its paws up next to its face. This cat is beckoning, or, calling in luck and money. It also calls in customers, so you may often see a manekineko displayed in stores/restaurants. Sizes vary from tiny ones that you can keep in your wallet, to large ones which you can put on display in your house/shop.
(Photo Copyright: ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO)
Ohashi – Chopsticks
Even though the Japanese food culture has become very westernized, chopsticks are still the most important tool for eating. There are many varieties of chopsticks, including the size.
There is a proper way of finding out the perfect size for you: Measure the distance from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger, while your thumb makes a 90 degree angle where it connects to your hand. Multiple that by 1.5, and that will be the length of the chopsticks that fit you best.
Furoshiki – Wrapping Cloth
A furoshiki is a large square sheet usually made of traditional Japanese cloth used to wrap and carry all sorts of things conveniently. Today, the Furoshiki has become a “new” trend, not only because of the modern/traditional designs but because it is a beautiful way of saving the environment by not using plastic bags or wrapping paper.
Noren – Divider curtains
Noren are usually placed at the entrance of stores/restaurants, which help let the wind through and create shade, or simply just for appearance. It is also a sign for customers so that they can tell that the store is open (stores put the noren away when closing). People also use them inside houses as dividers or for keeping privacy.
(Photo Copyright: ©sodai gomi via Flickr)
Sensu – Hand Fan
Sensu are popular accessories used in the summertime, both by men and women. Materials vary from paper and cloth to silk. And of course, there are tons of traditional or trendy patterns to choose from.
Okoh – Incense
Japanese incense has a very exotic scent and can be very relaxing, as well as remind you of the smell of temples that you may have visited on your trip.
Kumano is a small town in Hiroshima, and they have a long history in brush-making for calligraphy and arts. They also have brushes for make-up, which are said to be extremely soft and feel great on the skin.
(Photo Copyright:©Hiroshima Prefecture / ©JNTO)
Kami Fusen – Paper Balloons
These paper balloons are made of waxed paper, and are perfect for small children or simply for display. All you need to do is to blow some air into the hole. A very light, compact gift easy to take home!
Many Japanese toys are made of wood or bamboo, and the most well-known are the koma and kendama. A koma is a top, which you wrap with a thin rope and spin around. A kendama is a wooden handle with a pointy end, with a ball connected to it by string. There is a hole in the ball, and the purpose is to swing the ball to make it land and fit on the pointy end of the handle. Many other tricks can be done, and there are even tournaments for this toy.
Japan has tons of little trinkets and key-chains to choose from. These little charms with suctions are perfect for windows like in your car.
These are old traditional dolls made of carved wood. Each one is hand made, and sometimes can be very pricey.
These unglazed clay dolls are made in Hakata, Fukuoka prefecture, and were first known overseas when American soldiers took them home as souvenirs during the second world war.