Are you traveling to Japan and looking for souvenirs on the cheap? Or maybe you’re staying in Tokyo over Christmas, and have to both a) find inexpensive gifts and b) get them set back home in a hurry. What can you do?
The 100 yen shop is the answer! The quality you find at a 100 yen shop is far better than your country’s counterpart, and all have that “Japanese” feel that will meet the expectations of recipients. They don’t need to know that they only cost you 100 yen each!
No matter who you’re buying for, you can get souvenirs or gifts for them at 100 yen shops. Here are some examples of what you could buy for 1500 yen and how to send it.
100 Yen Shop Souvenirs: Sweets and Snacks
Japan has a wide range of sweets and snacks in many flavors. I decided on some rice crackers (senbei), roasted soy beans, chocolate chips, and fruit-flavored taffy. But really, you can raid the 00 yen shop for any number of strange and interesting goodies. Make sure you send snacks that only have kanji writing on the package. Keep them guessing!
Japan’s famous green tea is definitely a suitable souvenir. You should buy the loose tea (not in tea bags) a tea strainer for one of your gift recipients. And what exploration of Japanese green tea is complete without a Japanese tea cup? At 100 yen shops, you can buy nice ceramic ones with all kinds of kanji writing or Japanese icons on them. You don’t have to tell them it was only 100 yen!
You can assemble your very own rice set at the 100 yen shop! Everyone knows that rice is the staple food of every Japanese person. And now you can eat rice at home, Japanese style! First, buy a rice bowl. As with tea cups, 100 yen shops have nice rice bowls with kanji or Japanese icons on them. And of course you need chopsticks, which you can get in an individual package with a chopstick rest. You weren’t just going to let your chopsticks roll around on the table, were you? And finally, show off your new Japanese rice sophistication with a real Japanese rice paddle. After a month in Japan I realized that using a spoon to get rice out of the pot is an exasperating thing to do. A rice paddle makes your life so much easier!
Other Great Stuff
At the end, just walk through the 100 yen shop and check out whatever catches your eye. Many items are great as souvenirs or gifts. For example, I found this great tool–a sushi roll mold! With this simple device, you can quickly and easily make rolled sushi. Just like a sushi master! You can buy many unique things which have a “Japanese” feel that you can’t get back home, such as maneki-neko (the “waving cats” that are always popular with feline lovers), tengui cotton towels with Mount Fuji printed on them, kanji-practice notebooks (for future Japan travelers), etc.
Sending a Gift Package
Everyone knows that space in suitcases is limited. Or if you will be staying in Japan longer (or through the holidays), you can send your gifts home through Japan Post.
For my 100 yen shop haul, I didn’t have to go looking for a box–I bought a medium-sized package at the post office for 140 yen. You can also choose larger and smaller packages at a similar prices. In order to save money, you should take care that the weight of your parcel doesn’t exceed 2 kg. If it is over 2 kg, the price increases dramatically. So buy small and light! Also, the staff at the post office gives you the tape you need to close your box, so you don’t need to worry about that.
You can send your package via Airmail (3-6 days), Economy Airmail (SAL, 2-3 weeks) or Surface Mail (2 months). For my personal parcel (at a weight range between 1000 and 1500 grams) the prices were:
• Airmail: 2310 yen
• Economy Airmail: 1580 yen
• Surface Mail: 1080 yen
And that’s it! You can cover your gift- and souvenir-buying needs on a budget at the 100 yen shop and post office, all in one go! And remember, the sooner you buy, the slower (and less expensive) your shipping needs will be. And no one but us needs to know how cheap it was!