When it comes to gift buying, it’s often the case that you spend 95% of the entire period trying to think of any ideas, and 5% of the time buying them. Well, what if you’re buying for someone who has a keen interest in Japan? You’ll be thankful to know that despite a somewhat niche interest, there are a lot of great Japanese gift ideas that are easily obtainable. 

I’m here to help provide some great Japanese gift ideas for Japan enthusiasts. (most of these I wouldn’t mind getting myself.)

1. Language learning drinkware

hiragana mug
curtesy of

Drinkware like mugs and reusable travel cups could be a great small gift idea. The team at Hirakan however have taken this ‘usefulness’ to another level combining finely crafted drinkware with language learning opportunities.

Hirakan has produced a set of mugs and travel mugs emblazoned with your choice of katakana or hiragana syllabaries that are sure to help the budding Japanese language learner on their first steps. Every time you have a drink (a lot in my case) you won’t be able to help being reminded of those peculiar Japanese shapes that are the foundation of the language. 

Moreover, they also have a selection of other products such as posters, calendars, and phone cases that may prove just as useful.

Price: mugs – £17

Travel mugs – £25

2. Yukata

A Yukata is a piece of Japanese clothing similar to a Kimono. Unlike a Kimono that is incredibly traditional, a Yukata is a lightweight summer(y) version that is much more commonly worn. 

They are usually worn in the summer, at festivals, and Onsen (hot spring) resorts; the opportunities to wear such a piece of clothing in the UK — compared to Japan — will be greatly limited, but could be a great alternative to usual nightwear such as pyjamas.

A great place to acquire an authentic Yukata is The Japanese shop.

Price: £80 -£200

3. The Tale of Genji

Books are normally great presents right? How about a 1000 year old Japanese novel? 

The Tale of Genji primarily tells the story of Hikaru Genji, the son of the emperor, and his numerous romantic exploits in the imperial court. The story also grants an insight into political occurrences and succession through Genji’s own life events and viewpoint. 

What makes The tale of Genji appear on this Japanese gift ideas list is that it’s considered to be the world’s oldest novel. What’s more, it was also the first novel ever to be written by a woman, Murasaki Shikibu. 

In case you’re wondering, no, you don’t need to be able to read Japanese; it has been translated into English multiple times, however, as is the process of translating a 1000 year old Japanese tale, each English version may be slightly different depending on the author. 

Copies of an English version of the tale of Genji have become quite accessible and available in many book shops. However Amazon  appears to be the best place for this particular niche.

Price: £15 – £18

4. Personalised kanji name print

kanji name board
My own print for 'Nathan'

Here is something truly unique and incredibly personal: a hand-drawn translation of your name into a set of meaningful kanji characters — performed by a certified Japanese calligrapher.

Operating on Etsy, the company known as Flash Calligraphy offers the unique service of translating your name into kanji that can then be printed and displayed as a print. I personally received this as a gift last year and can testify to the quality and professionalism of the work. As part of the service you also receive a video of the writing being performed as well as a nice thank you message and an origami crane. 

While a named print is the most popular, there is also the option for personalised hats, Japanese folding fans, and a paper umbrella.

Price: print – unframed from £20

                       Framed from £50

5. Puzzle box

Japanese puzzle boxes first appeared in the Hakone region in Japan around 1870 and even then were popular gifts and souvenirs for travellers and tourists passing through the region. 

Nothing has changed; they are still great Japanese gift ideas.

Japanese puzzle boxes are containers that have moving parts which are required to be activated in a specific order before they will open. They are deceptively ingenious, well-crafted, and potentially useful wooden boxes that are often beautifully intriguing. They can serve a multitude of uses, whether that be a practical storage solution (albeit small), a clever brain teaser, or an impressive ornament, they are definitely an idea to be considered.

I received a very basic puzzle box for christmas a couple of years ago but continue to find it a fascinating piece of Japanese craftsmanship. 

Try an online shop known as Karakuri Box for sophisticated and creative puzzles or Japan Craft for more traditional ones.

Price: £25 – £600+

6. Snack subscription boxes

Getting hold of a variety of Japanese food products in the UK can be a bit of a challenge. Apart from sushi or noodles, there is a load of japanese cakes, sweets, and other snack-like items that will rarely see the light of day outside of Japan. That’s why a whole business model now exists to address this problem. 

A snack subscription box is a monthly delivery of the aforementioned Japanese cakes and sweets, as well as things like tea, popcorn, biscuits, crisps, and flavourings. These will all be products that are produced and found only in Japan. To keep things interesting; most suppliers will have a monthly theme that changes the contents of each box. 

There are a few boxes to check out such as BokksuSakuraco, and Japan Crate and each offer various plans or even one-off/one month purchases which would make a great Japanese themed gift.

Price: Bokksu – $49.95 (£37.74) for one month, cheaper for 3, 6, or 12 month plans.

Sakuraco – $37.50 (£28.34) for one month, cheaper for 3, 6, or 12 month plans.

Japan Crate – Starts from $22.95 (£17.34). Various other options. 

7. Posters and wall art

I often talk about ‘feeling closer to Japan’ on this blog and one way to do it is through decorations such as posters and wall art. 

Sprucing up a personal space with some visually engaging Japanese scenes such as cherry blossoms, mount Fuji, or fantasy scenes can truly bring a space alive and whisk you away to a land far away. 

Some truly breathtaking images and artwork can be found on Displate; although they are known more for perhaps films and games; they have a large Japanese section where you can find any scenes that can suit you or the room. In truth there are loads of other places to find posters and artwork online, some others include Posterlounge and Postera.

Price: £10 – £130

8. Omamori

decorative fabric charms
jetalone, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the smaller items on this list so far and perfect for just something a little extra is Omamori. Traditionally sold at Shinto shrines and then Buddhist temples, Omamori are small charms that are said to bring good luck or ward off bad omens and such. 

Many offer protection or luck from a specific circumstance or dedicated to a specific Shinto or Buddhist deity. They are small enough to be carried around in a pocket or tied to bags, or could even be hung in cars and placed in wallets and purses. Overall they are a great ‘little’ Japanese gift that are relatively inexpensive while being both unique and personal. 

Best places to find some of these are back at The Japanese ShopEtsy is also a source of these if you’re maybe not too worried about authenticity and just want a nice design.

Price: £7 – £15

9. Futon

Two Japanese futons on tatami mats
Toby Oxborrow, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A real Japanese futon is — in a very basic explanation — a soft mattress on the floor; an extremely comfortable and highly popular mattress on the floor albeit. 

In truth these are quite rare in the UK and I feel it would appeal to a very specific person in an incredibly specific circumstance; nevertheless, an authentic Japanese futon could be what you’re looking for. 

Rather than being the dominant sleeping arrangement as it is in Japan, a futon could be a useful emergency guest bed that doesn’t sacrifice comfort compared to many other solutions. What’s more, they are designed to be foldable so they can be stored until needed. 

Interested? Try ‘The futon Company’ a well-established furniture store based in London.

Price: £170 – £430 

10. Ukiyo-e print

Hokusai's 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'
The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai

Ukiyo-e is a type of Japanese art produced by using a woodblock printing process. Easily recognisable by their bold colours and well-defined shapes and edges, Ukiyo-e is perhaps Japan’s most celebrated art movement. 

The most famous example is Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’. 

What makes Ukiyo-e interesting is the subject and perspective of many of the works. Caricatures are quite common but narrative scenes and scenarios also appear frequently, however, in both cases a real sense of ‘looking in’ is apparent as we observe life in the late Edo period.

Ukiyo-e reproductions have become quite common and popular images can be found in homeware stores and online printing platforms. Somewhere like Wayfair for example is a good place for relatively inexpensive reproductions, or ‘Not On The High Street’. 

(bear in mind when searching; many places do not recognise the term Ukiyo-e. Try Japanese prints instead.)

Lastly if you want something a little closer to a real piece of Ukiyo-e, try Japanese Gallery Kennington — Just be ready to pay for it. 

Price: Reproduction prints – £15 – £50

Authentic Ukiyo-e – £100 – £2000+

11. Ikebana starter kit

Do you know someone who enjoys a bit of indoor flower arranging or would like to do so? Then an ikebana kit might be the perfect gift.

Ikebana is the Japanese term for flower arranging and is a hugely popular activity within Japan itself as well as becoming a growing interest far beyond. While most people can begin the craft with minimal effort a professional ikebana kit can make all the difference. 

A major player for these are Wakazura Japan which feature a two or three piece set. They consist of a pair of specialised shears, a kenzan for holding flowers in place, and an added kenzan needle care tool, all of which are made in Niigata prefecture Japan.

Price: around £50

12. Sake

A bottle filled with clear liquid
Photo by Kouji Tsuru on Unsplash

For many people, drinks are already great presents to receive so Why not try something a little more special? Sake is the staple alcoholic beverage for much of the Japanese population. 

Also known as Japanese rice wine for its core ingredient, sake is a drink that comes in a variety of strengths and tastes and can be enjoyed in a variety of temperatures. Generally speaking, sake can often be a stronger alcoholic drink then many others in the west but easier to consume. 

If you are new to the Sake world and have no idea on where to start, look out for a ‘Junmai’ sake which is the most versatile kind you can find. 

If liquid Japanese gift ideas interest you, try visiting Tengu Sake or Japan centre, both existing in London.

Price: £7.50 – £100+

13. Samurai umbrella

I’m not going to lie; this is on my personal wish list this year. 

First seen on the website of the retail store ‘Kenji’, this fully functional umbrella has a handle in the style of a samurai sword, however, once it retracts, it also has a strap that allows you to carry the umbrella to on your back — giving the impression of a real samurai sword even when not in use. How cool is that? 

Need I say any more? Go find it at a Kenji store, however variations are also available on amazon.

Price: Kenji – £9.60

Amazon – £30 – £40

14. Tea

If there is a food and drink lover among those you are buying for, but sake and alcohol is a no-go, consider some refreshing Japanese tea instead. Japanese tea is mostly the green tea variety and so has numerous health benefits associated with it, and — much like the UK — is taken quite seriously. 

As we are talking about gifts here, just buying a box of tea bags is not really what we’re after; instead, you’ll probably want something a bit more special. Premium green tea could certainly pass for that, but what about going a bit further and going for a tea set? Complete with ceremonial grade tea, bowl, and whisk to fully immerse yourself in the Japanese tea experience?

Yeah that sounds more like it. 

Try heading to the Japan center for packets of premium tea. The Tea Makers of London for real premium tea. If you fancy a tea gift set be sure to try somewhere like Moya Matcha.

Price: loose teas – £4 – £40

Gift sets – £20 – £70

15. Miniature Zen Garden

Time for something a little more fun and perhaps relaxing: a miniature Zen garden. That’s right, you can enjoy the calming sensation of a Japanese Zen garden much closer to home — in a tiny form factor. 

There’s always space for a little novelty gift and for Japan enthusiasts this is it. However perhaps it can be more than that. These kits allow you to rake your own tiny patch of white sand until your heart’s content as well as organising the stones and other included items any way you see fit. This in itself can be a good stress reliever, but why not continue adding other items of your own to make a unique diorama?

Look for a basic version in ‘menkind’ or some more complete sets on Amazon.

Price: £13 – £45

16. Chopsticks

While chopsticks may not be an exclusively Japanese product, you won’t get far eating Japanese cuisine without them.

For someone who loves eating out, this could be a great Japanese gift idea; rather than relying on inferior in-house chopsticks, a study and reusable set would surely feel far superior and quite personal.

I recommend starting a search for such a gift at the site Trouva which brings a good number. Another good place is Sous Chef, however you may be able to find more in other cookery stores.

Price: £6 -£40

17. Japanese kitchen knives

Now, recommending a set of sharp knives as a potential gift can be a cause for concern, however, for anyone who loves to cook or is a serious chef, a set of Japanese made knives are among the best you can get. 

There are several things that make Japanese knives some of the best: the superior quality of materials that are used; the absolute focus on purpose (specific knives for specific reasons etc.); incredible ergonomics; and their life-long build quality. 

This is a range of products you can go for here. Somewhere like ProCook offers Japanese ‘inspired’ ranges, Santoku offers sets of good quality Japanese knives, finally there are places like Kato and Niwake that sell specialist knives singularly. 

Price: £50 – £300+

18. A Bonsai tree

How about a Japanese gift idea that has the potential to outlive both the sender and recipient? 

If you’re looking for something that will last longer than an afternoon, a Japanese Bonsai tree might be a consideration. These miniature trees have the potential to live for hundreds of years — if they are well taken care of — and might be a good idea for someone with time, patience and the ability to love and care for it like their first child. 

The payoff is a literal living work of art that can be shaped and molded however you see fit, and a show stopping centerpiece in any environment. 

Their are a few options for starting a bonsai: you can either start from the seeds, or you can buy a bonsai tree that is already partially developed — which is probably best for a gift giving situation. 

Bonsai tree’s can be found in many garden centres up and down the country but somewhere such as Herons Bonsai who specialise in them might be the best option.

Price: £5 – thousands

19. Japanese restaurant gift cards

Food and restaurant gift cards are a staple gift idea throughout the year — why should Japanese restaurants be any different?

There are plenty of Japanese food lovers in the world that will be warmed by the sight of a gift card to their favourite eatery. And before you ask, yes, there are plenty to choose from. I covered a series of just 12 in a previous post, however, there are tons more than I didn’t talk about that have a presence across the country such as:

  • Yo sushi
  • Wagamamas
  • Itsu
  • Sushimania

Price: however much you want.

20. Anime Merchandise

Anime, the most commonly used term for Japanese animation, holds a special place in the hearts of many people. There are hundreds of anime series and an increasing number of anime films that captivate audience’s across the world, some with almost cult statuses. Anime merchandise exists to appease those millions of viewers

Anime merchandise is a rather broad term. You can find figures, clothing, badges, posters, and soft toys; the list is too long to really go through it all. But no matter what it is, deciding on some anime merch as a Japanese gift idea could be a winner. 

Depending on what type of merch you’re after can determine where you should go. For anime merch in the UK you can Japan Nakama for clothing, for figures and collectables try Japan Craft, and even somewhere like Redbubble for everything else.

Price: variable 


Having an interest in Japan doesn’t have to limit what is available to you, if anything, having an interest in an entire country opens up countless possibilities and paths that are entirely unique. The  Japanese gift ideas mentioned above could be just a starting point to get the ideas flowing; there are many other possibilities — depending on the budget — that could hide the perfect gift for the Japan enthusiast. 

Happy shopping!