Gifts with a twist

Traditional artisanship meets modern design in these very souvenir-worthy crafts
Arita pottery always makes for a great gift – and the traditional wares are now beautifully designed, too
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Traditional Japanese crafts make great gifts, but finding the right cup, tea pot or bowl to take home can be a quest in itself. There's no going wrong with the five places featured below, all of which put a fresh spin on time-honoured craftsmanship. And if you're looking for more souvenir ideas, check out our lists of the best Tokyo souvenirs and our essential souvenir picks.

The top five designer crafts

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1616 / Arita Japan

icon-location-pin Otemachi
Colour Porcelain Deep Plate, large (¥5,500), medium (¥3,000) or small (¥800). Mug, pink (¥2,300) or blue (¥2,000)

These ceramics are made in the town of Arita, in the heart of Saga prefecture and the birthplace of Japanese pottery. 1616 has brought these traditional pots, plates and cups bang up to date with intricate designs by Dutch designers Scholten & Baijings.

Buy it here:
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Cement Produce Design x Kisso

icon-location-pin Aoyama
Sabae ear pick, ¥3,900

Ear picking is the Japanese technique of, well, picking your ear clean. While having someone poke around in your inner canal might not be for everyone, these beautiful glorified Q-tips, made of the same material as Sabae glass frames, make great gifts.

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Owanya Uchida

icon-location-pin Nihonbashi
Urushiwan (wooden bowl), ¥4,800

These bowls are made from natural shirk trees, finished with layers of lacquer that help them survive years of daily use. Traditionally they only come in deep red, but Owanya Uchida have embraced diversity – meaning there are plenty of other colours to choose from.

Buy it here:
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Kuroco

icon-location-pin Okachimachi
Stripe Old, ¥25,000

Meet Kuroco, the new face of traditional Edo Kiriko glassware. This store, in business for well over 80 years, collaborates with veteran craftspeople to create black Edo Kiriko, supposedly the most difficult variety to master. The results are spectacular.

Buy it here:
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Hasami mug | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Kaoru Yamada

Hasami

Block mug, ¥1,500

Ceramics brand Hasami hails from a town of the same name in Nagasaki prefecture. The brand's signature mug combines the area's traditional craftsmanship with a design inspired by American diners of the '50s and '60s.

Buy it here: www.hasamiyaki.jp

Looking for a cheaper gift?

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