Glad to step in for the first time in the district of Akihabara on a weekend. A bustling weekend. Weekends are time for flea markets, second-hand shops, toy stores, loud and tightly packed capsule toy gachapon shops and anything and everything about finding cheap and cute souvenirs to bring back home.
Japan is the land of the rising sun and ultimately also the land of cute weird items. Travelling to Japan or to anywhere for that matter is never complete without shopping. Trust me, everyone, I mean every human being from all generations needs to bring home something that they will remind them of this trip. Something that connects them back to this moment in the future.
And when in Japan, something uniquely Japan should be in your souvenir bag.
Manga or animated comic books was originally created in Japan during 19th century. Today, it is a huge million dollar industry that has expanded to TV and online games. What could be a more fitting souvenir than finding your favorite novel in a manga version?
When in Tokyo you can hit the Pokemon Center or the gazillions of toy stores lined up in Akihabara district. You will find all things Pokemon. Just like the famous pink cushable cat, Pokemon items will be a big hit to your friends and families when they start to dig in your shopping bag at the airport arrival area. I got some Pokemon cup noodles for my friends back home.
Gachapon teeny weeny prize toy
Aside from the chilling time of being a kid again, the tightly packed and loud gachapon shops is a must-do activity to experience something uniquely Japanese. I visited one, one Sunday afternoon. Turned out to be a mistake to visit one on a Sunday afternoon. The fun experience of being a kid again was also a claustrophobic one too. But the thought of always winning something every time you drop in your yen coins into the slot is enough to keep you high about your entire Japan trip.
When visiting any shrine or religious sites in Japan, there are souvenir shops by the entrance and the exit gates that sell omamoris or simply translated to mean amulets or lucky charms. There are all sorts of omamoris that you can find everywhere and for everyone. There are even omamoris for someone who is taking certification exams, for nurses and doctors, for the teenager, for parents, for grandparents, for those who travel a lot.
As a traveller, I bought a lucky charm for protection while travelling. I got this from the tranquil and peaceful Meiji Shrine souvenir shop.
Of course, KitKat
The Japanese seems to be serious with their KitKat wafer chocolate industry that they’ve expanded the variety of flavors to every imaginable concoction. If you are in Japan during the sakura season in springtime, you have got to try their KitKat sakura flavor. Other flavors that I tasted during my visit to the world’s favorite destination is the sakura and the sake flavor.
The sweetness and that distinct crunchy chocolate wafer is still there but with a touch of sweet sakura and a bit of sour sake. Yes, uniquely Japan.
When shopping in Japan, hit the flea markets for a more memorable take home gift or souvenir. Skip the giant malls and high-end brands. I am cutely sure that your friends and family back home will appreciate a manga or cute itsy teeny weeny keychain toy from one of your gachapon thrilling plays.
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