April 25, 2016

What to buy in Japan

(Updated in 2018)

Having lived in Japan before, I'm often asked what are some of the things I'd recommend visitors to buy when in Japan. Below are some products I'd buy when I revisit Japan these days (not referring to branded goods/alcoholic beverages :P), mostly because they are more expensive in my country. Of course, I do not benefit from writing about these products.

1. Pasta sauce


I really like Japanese pasta sauces, as they are delicious and fuss-free. (Just pour over cooked pasta.) From Japanese flavors like Yuzu Pepper & Mentaiko, to traditional flavors like Peperoncino/Aglio Olio & Carbonara, most of them taste great! There are many flavors and brands to choose from in supermarkets in Japan. Make great souvenirs too as they last long and are pretty light-weight!

2. Furikake


Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on cooked rice, and sometimes vegetables and fish dishes. Just like pasta sauces, there are many different flavors and some of them can be as cute as the one above! They can be found in supermarkets, and also make perfect souvenirs~

3. Mouth ulcer patch



Pretty effective for healing mouth ulcers. Just paste over the spot like a sticker. Can be found in drug stores.

4. Medicated gargle solution


Being prone to getting sore throat, I'm really thankful to get to know about this gargle solution during my stay in Japan. I'd use it to gargle whenever the slightest throat infection symptom develops, and so far it has been pretty effective.

There are a few brands and they can be found in drug stores, about 65% cheaper than in my country. I have tried similar products by non-Japanese companies sold in my country, hoping to find substitutes so that I do not need to carry them from Japan every time I visit, but the solutions are not as strong.

5. Hair care products like L'Occitane


I rely on L'Occitane's shampoo and conditioner for my dry hair. Considering yen's depreciation in recent years and tax free, I have yet to find another cheaper place to stock up, not even airports. Though it is not exactly the lightest thing to carry :P

6. Ryukakusan


For soothing itchy throat. Not that effective for serious infection though. Comes in a few flavors.

7. Zakka from 300 yen shops


There are only 100 yen shops in my country, so I enjoy checking out 300 yen shops for cute and useful products. Some of the things I usually buy include country-style home decorations and hair accessories.

8. Interesting cup or instant noodles


Some of them taste almost as good as those served in ramen joints, such as Michelin-starred Nakiryu above (only available in 7-11 stores).

Other shops I frequent include Uniqlo & Kinokuniya, because it is cheaper to shop there than in my country. Also Loft and G.U., because they aren't in my country, yet. Many visitors to Japan buy electronics as well. These days I don't, though I purchased electronic dictionary, digital camera, earphones etc. during my stay in Japan.

Do you have a list of must-buys when you visit Japan too? Please share with me :)

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