Japan | Things to buy back, Snacks and souvenirs

Please note that all of the items below are tried and tested by yours truly and it's my personal recommendation. These are just my personal reviews and experience. 

What triggered me to write a post on this is because I, myself, don't know what to buy exactly from Japan. Well, I know some personal favs in general, like those Tokyo banana, Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory biscuits, Shiroi Koibito, Calbee, Ichiran Ramen instant noodle (which is not really good, the fresh one is definitely much better) so on and so forth. These are all very common snacks that people usually buy back (from what I have seen from colleagues and friends). So, I thought, maybe it' a good idea to introduce some other things that are not from the "popular" list which are worth buying or trying.  

Snack List

1. Muscat

Okay, I know it's weird to start off with a fruit.. and it's not even a "thing to buy back" but yet it's on my list. At first glance, it looks like grapes, but it's not. It taste very very different from grapes and it's super sweet! This is a must try fruit when you are in Japan! There's also a hint of mango aroma in it (at least that is what my mum describes it). I'm not good with describing it but I reckon it's better to just try it yourself and judge. Hahaha.
Normally, it would cost 1000yen (the cheapest one we saw) for this amount (picture above). There are also much higher grades one which can reach to 4000yen. We also tried the 3000yen ones, it is much sweeter definitely. I like the more exp one but it might not be value for money as you can see.

There are also dark purple ones, those also taste very different but I don't remember anymore the taste. All I know is that I didn't like it and it leans more to the sour side.

2. Kororo Gummy

Discovered this yummy gummy by chance. Actually bought this while we were queuing up to pay at the Mega Don Quijote. Never thought I would discover a real gem. The texture is not like the normal gummy (like Haribo), it's more like... hmm.. water placed into a very soft and thin... skin? Okay, this description is getting bizarre. But it's definitely very sweet and addictive!
Actually they also sell this in 7-11 in Singapore but it cost like 2.50$, it's much cheaper to buy in Japan. I don't remember the exact price but I remember it was around 150yen. I also tried the strawberry flavoured one, it is also very nice.

3. Funwari Meijin Extremely Light Airy Snack Kinako Flavor

Yes, that is the full name of this snack, a mouthful (pun not intended). Again, this snack, we discovered by chance. Funny story regarding how we came to buy it. This item was placed outside of Don Quijote, and was labelled as one of those "hot items". Then we saw one thug-looking Korean guy grabbing like a full basket of this snack. All three of us was just looking at him, puzzled. And he noticed, so my mum asked him if the snack was good. Then he started to re-enact this funny motion (like the mind-blown gif) while saying "like snow in mouth". Honestly, I missed out on seeing this, apparently I was looking really hard on something else, my brother told me the story. My brother and mum was laughing and also was thoroughly convinced. So we bought a few packet to try. 
He is not kidding, it melts. If you also like peanut, you'll definitely love this. Definitely a must buy. 

4. Mannan Life "Konnyaku Batake" Konjac Fruits Jelly

Also, another snack which we also saw the Korean guy was packing in another basket of his. Actually, I know this would be good because I really like Konnyaku jelly. Tried all three flavors, all of them are so good. I like the grape ones best, while my mum and brother voted for peach. 

Photo credits to Deep Japan

5. Tansan Senbei (Arima Town)

A very well known snack sold in Arima Town. I think in every corner we walked through, we would definitely see some shop selling this. It's just thin, crispy and sweet biscuit but I find it very addictive. I really like it for some reason. They also have some variations of this snack that have cream or is in another flavor (like sesame or lavender flavor). 

6. Dried / Preserved Scallop Snack

I think this snack is self-explanatory. Well-known as a classic Japan snack. I finished it rather quickly when my mum bought it from her previous Japan trip few years back. I thought it was delicious (but also, very unhealthy if ate too much). This time, we bought back around 9-10 packs. Some how, this killed the urge for me to snack on it. Great as souvenirs for friends and colleagues.
We bought most of these snacks in the Osaka market, be sure to walk around first before deciding to buy at a certain store. Some small stores might sell the same brand and amount for a lesser price. This is my lesson learnt from our last visit. We tried like 3 brands? Honestly I don't remember which one is the best, it's just a matter of preference. Some brand might be more salty than the other. But one particular one called "Hokkaido preserved scallop" taste different. It's more fishy and I didn't like it. It is also much more expensive. I don't recommend to buy this brand! 

7. Pickled Japanese Plum

If you are a fan of salty or pickled snack, I think you'll want to try this. I, myself, don't like the taste because it's SUPER SALTY. Even a tiny bite can last for like minutes in your mouth, and it will still be salty af. My brother and grandmother is crazy about this snack. 

8. Honeydukes Shock-O-Choc from Universal Studio Japan

Since I am a HUGE fan of Harry Potter, of course I have to introduce this. It's just chocolate with chili in it, and it's quite spicy but it's also quite good. You can also play prank on your friends with this snack. Hahaha.

**Edit 27-04-2018**

9. Don't-Know-What's-It-Called-Japanese-Sweets-Slash-Snack

I originally wanted to add this into my list before I publish this post, but I don't remember the name and I thought I didn't have any photo of it. I found one today when I was filtering photos for my new blog post. And here it is! I still don't know the name. It's a kind of sweet snack. I bought a few that is green tea flavoured from Yatshuhashi shop found along Ninnenzaka-Sannenzaka and it was really good. It's kind of like sweet biscuit coated with crispy sugar. Be sure to buy it if you see it in the souv shop.

Item List

1. Amulet or Lucky Charm from Temple

Some of the temples sells amulets for different purposes. I think we came across like two or three temples that have these but we bought ours when we saw it for the first time in Kiyomizu-dera temple. They are very well-made and looks very cute. Perfect for giving to loved ones.

2. Gashapon / Gachapon capsules!

Not only are these fun, the item inside is also very cute! Not your typical keychain souvs yo! There's so many type of Gachapon that you can find in Japan. I think I've used like 2500-3000yen alone in my total trip for these. HAHAHA. Let me show you some of my collections. 

Osaka Kaiyukan Gachapon

I actually only wanted this otter. It's like love at first sight, it's my spirit animal. Look at it! It's so cute! It's just dying of boredom! It's currently on display on my office desk right now. My neighbor like it so much too, that it is now shared between our desks. LOL. Unfortunately, we had to try like 5 times at the gachapon machine to get this.

Also, got these ninja catband at one of the gachapon near Osaka market if I remember it correctly. It was outside of a pet shop. There are so cute! Regretted that I didn't buy more for my friends who have cats! 

I am also kinda obsessed with foxes and kitsune mask, so this was perfect for me. On the first try, I got the special edition one! 

Photo credits to dicethekamikaze

3. Hanko Name Seal

or aka Hanko stamp! I first came across this machine at Don Quijote in Namba, Osaka. There's also another one in Mega Don Quijote but the seal box was sold out at this branch. It's fully automated, and it takes like 20 mins to get the item. I felt that it was quite special and I just have to have one! There are also shops which have this Hanko seal carving services but it usually takes few days for them to complete it.
There's two languages to choose from on the machine, Japanese and English. However, if you do it in English, you have little control over your name. If you have an English name, it's fine IMO. But if you have a Chinese name (like me), then I think it would be better to choose the Japanese language so you can choose your Kanji name. BUT.. you would need:
  1. to know how to read hiragana. Yes, unfortunately, you would need some knowledge to read hiragana as you have to enter the hiragana character as an input.
  2. google translator app or any translator you have, to translate your name from Chinese to Japanese
  3. obviously, know your Chinese name. However, not all Chinese characters are in Kanji (like my boyfriend's). So, you have to try your luck. 
There's actually another option, where you can choose your own "handwriting", so what ever you draw on the machines, it will be carved out. 

Some advice though, when choosing the thickness of the name craving, it would be better if it is thicker if you buy the small Hanko seal, else, the stamping would not work, as the character might be missing some strokes. My brother got 2 name seals because of this error. 

Photo credits to taiken.co
Just to show you how the Hanko seal looks
my name seal!

I am known as So Yoshimi or Somube apparently (according to google anyway) and my brother got a cooler Japanese name with his Chinese character, which is Akira Ken or Satoshi Ken. 

4. Japanese Magazines for the ladies

It's only November, and they already have January's issue. Does Japan has a time travelling machine or what? LOL. Anyway, I bought it because I saw that they are giving away this cute selfie O-ring and also thought it would be great reading material during my flight back. Although it's very heavy and I have no space left in my luggage. 

5. Jump store / Anime / Manga store merchandise

If you are a fan of anime or manga, definitely check these stores out. There's one "Jump" Store near the entrance of Universal Studio Japan, which I really recommend. They have some pretty cool shirts for sale. Also, if you have time too, please walk around Nipponbashi's Den Den town. You can easily spent the whole day hunting for goods there (IF you are anime/manga fan).

6. Deco items

Okay, maybe this item is not for everyone, it's for those people who likes to decorate. I bought two items to hang on the walls in my current rented house.
The Kitsune mask I found in Animate store in Osaka. It's actually used for cosplay but I really like it and decided to buy it and it was the last one they have in the store!
The very luxurious looking Hanya mask which I found in some random store at Nara. Which when I googled, it's also sold on Kyofusa website. I am not sure if it is from the same creator but mine looks similar except mine doesn't have that red tag name on it. It has a different name tag. I forgot how much I bought it, if I see something I really like, there's no stopping me. The Nara shop also have some other wall decos and katana for sale too. If you're into Japanese home decoration items, I think you should stop by at the shop if you are visiting Nara. I think it is around this area.

Image result for DUP eyelid tape

7. Drugstore products

Ladies, it's like a must for you to visit any drugstores and buy some skin care or make up product. However, you might be as lost as me if you go into one without anything in mind to buy. No worries, if you have time, you shall stroll around and make your choice. Some of the bestselling items will have this "#1" or "BEST" marked, so you kind of get the idea what tourists usually buy there. But if you are tight on time, I suggest you to find out beforehand before stepping into the store~! 

For starters, some recommendation from me, check this amazing product called DUP Eyelid Tape. They also sell it in Singapore, but whatever. Just buy them if you are in Japan. I have eyelids, just that with age, it droops more so it's getting more and more non-visible now. I tried other brands as well, but this double-sided tape just changed everything. It looks the most natural and the tape doesn't come out and says hi when you blink. 

Second, my friend actually introduced this, it's called Suisai powder cleanser. I thought the packaging was really smart and it's definitely travel friendly. BUT, it's on the expensive side. They recommend to use the whole amount in one tiny box for one use, but I manage to split them to two usage because there's quite a fair amount in there. Also saw another brand selling powder cleanser but it's all in one bottle, you can check that out too (but I don't remember the brand name though, sorry). I myself don't use this daily, but only for when I am travelling, as the size is very convenient to bring around. 

That concludes my list of recommended item to buy in Japan based on my experience. Please also suggest to me what to buy in the comment so that I can maybe check them out also during my next Japan trip! 

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