1. Rice bowls
Japanese rice bowls are the gift that you just can’t go wrong with. They come in more shapes, sizes, and colors than you could imagine. You’re guaranteed to find the perfect design for that special someone.
I can never resist the allure of the ceramic section when I go shopping, because handmade rice bowls are just beautiful. Most ceramic bowls are safe to use in a dishwasher and microwave, but you should check the labels before purchasing just to play it safe.
These are a very practical gift that can be used to serve just about anything. I like to use them for eating vegetables or cereal, because they generally come in smaller sizes, and are great for portion control.
Chopsticks are a great gift, because they’re inexpensive, useful, and can last a long time.
A reusable pair is more eco-friendly for someone who loves to eat asian cuisine regularly. There are plastic, wood, and even metal ones to choose from.
A set of matching chopsticks would make a very suitable gift for a couple. Sometimes they have the same pattern, but in different colors. Other times they have one shorter and one longer pair for different sized hands.
You can even find chopsticks for kids that help train them for how to use them! Even my students in kindergarten are able to use the kid friendly sets.
3. Sushi set
A sushi making set is perfect for anyone who loves to cook, and loves to be creative. It can be hard or even impossible to find sushi restaurants in some areas. One of the supermarkets in my hometown only had California Rolls for sale while I was growing up.
It consisted of imitation crab meat and cucumber.. Yuck!
Traditional sushi is made with raw fish, but having your own set means you can use whatever ingredients you like! That’s why these are a good gift idea even for picky eaters.
Vegetarians and vegans can use alternatives to seafood with sushi making kits. Kimchi and natto are packed with flavor and go great with rice. But to be honest, you can use any vegetables you like.
4. Calligraphy and Watercolor Brushes
Calligraphy brushes are a nice asset for anyone who is artistic, or learning to write Japanese kanji. Thinner brushes can produce very delicate and fine lines, whereas thicker brushes are used for very bold and broad strokes.
Calligraphy is an art form that anyone can try, but not everyone can master. Some people dedicate their lives to perfecting their brush strokes.
If painting with brushes seems a bit too difficult or messy, you can also find them available as pens. These watercolor brush pens are great for lettering and creating unique headings.
5. Hobonichi Planner
A planner is perfect for someone who loves to stay organized, or needs to get organized! Whether you’re busy with school, work, or family life, a planner can help you save time and get things done.
Bullet journals have been a rage the past few years. They allow you to keep track of what tasks need to be done, and how much progress you’ve made towards completing them. Hobonichi planners include calendars, personal trackers, project trackers, and more.
I love to use Japanese planners for keeping track of my budget. I can decide exactly where my money is going, and know how much I’ll have left over at the end of the month.
6. Knife Set
Japanese knives are renowned for their high quality and are considered an ideal investment for anyone who’s serious about cooking. Although they’re usually expensive, getting a gorgeous and intricately designed Japanese knife set doesn’t have to break the bank!
These knives can last a lifetime if handled with care. Most are made from stainless steel, and can be sharpened when they become dull over time. I use my chef knife (santoku) almost every day when preparing meals.
If getting a whole set seems a bit too much, then a nakiri might be a good beginner knife to start with. It’s mainly used for dicing and chopping vegetables.
7. Tea Set
A warm cup of tea is a wonderful start to your morning, or a sublime finish to your long day. Although you could just dip and seep a tea bag in a mug of hot water, it doesn’t offer the same satisfying feeling as the methodical approach used by the Japanese.
Cast iron Japanese teapots (tetsubin) can be heated directly on the stove, and are said to give tea a very unique flavor. These have a very rustic appearance, and are sure to impress guests.
Today, many Japanese people opt for lighter clay or ceramic teapots. These come in more colorful variations, but the downside is that they can easily break. You’ll also have to use a separate pot or hot water heater to bring the water to a boil before pouring it into the teapot.
So what’s the point of the teapot itself? Most come with a wire mesh inside for holding and straining loose tea leaves. One pot can usually hold enough water to fill two traditional sized cups, or one large mug.
8. Japanese Candy
Who doesn’t love snacks? Especially Japanese snacks? Candy boxes come with a good variety of treats for you to sample. Japanese candies are quite different from those found in America and other western countries.
These tasty delights are excellent for anyone who isn’t afraid to try new things, and enjoys sampling new flavors. Candy boxes are fun and exciting for both adults and kids, because you never know exactly what’s contained inside!
Just be careful when buying one for anyone with food allergies! Many snacks are produced in factories that also handle milk and nuts, so they may contain trace amounts of them.
9. Paper Lantern
Want to help spice up someone’s room decor? Japanese paper lanterns add a nice warm light to a dark room. Small lanterns on a string are great for accenting a small part of the room or wall, and come in a plethora of colors.
Larger paper lanterns usually have kanji characters written on them with names of restaurants, towns, etc. One of these would look great in a gaming or entertainment room because of their size, uniqueness, and soft light.
Anyone who watches Japanese TV shows, anime, or movies has undoubtedly seen the stereotypical Japanese housewife donning an apron while carefully preparing a mouthwatering feast in the kitchen.
Aprons aren’t just for women though! Japanese aprons are made in many sizes, and generally tie in the back. Not only do they protect your clothing while cooking, but they make you look good.
Want to get some good Instagram shots?
Or, want to wear only an apron for a special someone? Hehe!
11. Body pillow
Japanese body pillows are the perfect cure for loneliness and bad sleeping posture. Some people need extra cushion support for their legs, back, or neck to not wake up sore and achy the following morning.
What’s nice about Japanese anime body pillows is that they come with cute (and often racy) character designs to liven up a room. This could be something fun to get someone who lives in a dorm room, has a great sense of humor, and isn’t embarrassed easily.
12. Shoji Screen
Shoji screens are stunning panels that can be used to divide sections of a room. They are usually made with wooden frames, and rice paper screens with a painted design. Shoji screens are very light, and easy to move around.
The best part is that they’re foldable! They make an awesome background for photos and videos. But usually they’re just used to add a bit of privacy. Shoji screens are wonderful at sectioning off shared spaces.
Many people with businesses love to use these as backdrops. They’re also good for hiding a mess if you don’t have time to clean and guests suddenly show up!
13. Bonsai Tree
Know someone that has a habit of accidentally killing plants? I’m one of those people. Luckily there are hardy little bonsai trees for people like me, who love indoor plants, but just can’t seem to keep them alive.
Bonsai trees are very easy to take care of, and only require watering about every 3 days. They also only need repotting about once every 4 to 5 years. This is a nice option for helping someone to add a little green to their office or living space without a lot of maintenance.
14. Samurai Umbrella
Did you know that samurai umbrellas are a thing? I didn’t until my boyfriend just made me google them, and then nodded approvingly. Yes, they’re cool, and yes they look as badass as they sound.
The handles are shaped like those found on katanas. They look like a sheathed sword when placed back into the umbrella cover.
Some samurai umbrellas reveal cool hidden crests only when they get wet. The wearer might get a few stares while walking down the street before people realize it isn’t an actual sword.
Considering your bed is probably the largest thing in your room, it can have the greatest impact on the look and feel of your space. Cherry blossoms are iconic for when we think about spring in Japan, but don’t think you’re stuck with only the typical pink patterns.
Japanese duvets also come in dark blues, grays, and black designs as well. You could opt for a beautiful geisha design or koi fish instead to keep yourself warm during the cold winter months.
We’ve talked about quite a few Japanese cooking utensils, but what good are they for someone who can’t actually cook? Japanese food is so delicious, and so hard to replicate if you don’t use any recipes to follow.
I would know. I tried very unsuccessfully to replicate authentic ramen after I studied abroad in Japan and had to return to the US. I ended up with a bowl of watered down pork broth and soggy noodles.
It was so unpleasant that it ended up in the trash after a few bites…
You can save someone else the waste by gifting them a Japanese cookbook with authentic and easy-to-follow recipes.
17. Cute Food Magnets
How could anyone resist how delectable Japanese food magnets look? It’s so hard to not buy them all when I’m in the store, and then cover my fridge with them. These are small and great for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of space.
They stick really well to white boards, and can add a really cute and colorful flair to your wall. Food magnets are cheap and are a nice option for stalking stuffers if you’re not looking to spend much, but still want to give something practical.
18. Kimono or Jimbei
Japanese kimono are traditional attire that’s usually worn for special occasions. A really nice one could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Those are usually reserved for weddings, graduations, funerals, and other significant events.
You don’t have to spend that much to get one that looks beautiful. There are cheaper options for more fun and casual affairs. This lovely black kimono is great for such events.
Jimbei are typically worn by men during summer festivals, and yukata by women. Kimono are thicker and more suited for colder months.
Socks are one of those things that’s so boring to receive as a gift when you’re a kid, but so handy and more appreciated when you get older.
Seriously, I’d love to get some new socks as a present right now.
I’m sure everyone has received a pair of socks as a present at some point, but how cooler would it be to get some Japanese inspired ones? There are anime themes, video game characters, national landmarks, you name it.
Socks can last a long time, and they’re useful all year round.
20. Torii Gate
Torii gates are usually found at the entrance of Japanese Shinto shrines. They are beautiful and iconic. They are also too big to fit into your living room–the traditional ones at least.
But fear not, because you can get a smaller version that would go great on table tops, window sills, or even out in a garden!
Torii gates are a very old and respected part of Japanese culture. Small model Torii gates are recommended for placing where someone meditates, or likes to sit and quietly reflect on the meaning of life.