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Where to shop for regional Japanese souvenirs and crafts in Tokyo

Shop for gifts, artisanal goods and confectionery from other parts of Japan right here in the city

By Tabea Greuner and Mari Hiratsuka
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Japan is more than just Tokyo, and each of the country's 47 prefectures has its own distinct identity, along with its unique cuisine, arts and crafts. Yamagata is known for its handmade knives, Arita for ceramics, Kuroe for lacquerware, Niigata for sake... and the list goes on. But since Tokyo is the nation's capital, you can easily collect these regional souvenirs right here in the metropolis.

So start shopping the breadth of Japan right here in the city's antenna shops – these retail outlets are run by local governments outside of their home prefectures to showcase local goods. There are also the bigger and fancier 'select stores', which curate a compendium of crafts, gifts, artisanal goods and even confectionery from across Japan. Aside from retail therapy, you'll also be able to learn about the regions' respective traditional crafts, signature flavours and culture.

RECOMMENDED: Get more shopping done at Tokyo's 100 best shops

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Nippon-ichi Nihombashi Takashimaya S.C.

Shopping Nihonbashi

Nippon-ichi’s interior design is a contemporary take on classic Japanese elements. The wooden displays and furniture design are inspired by the Nihonbashi of the Edo period (1603-1868). Different sceneries of that time are featured throughout the indigo and white noren curtains.

Here you can not only buy Tokyo-exclusive souvenirs but also gifts from across the country, which are thoughtfully categorised by prefectures. If you’re looking for a snack, go for the crispy Yusempei crackers (¥691) from Nagasaki, or the juicy Amanatsu mandarin in syrup (¥594) from Ehime. Another popular product is the revitalising Yunohana bath salt from Beppu Onsen, a famous hot spring resort in Oita prefecture in southern Japan. The little area sectioned off with glass walls is also worth checking out for its monthly-changing variety of goods from a specific city or region in Japan.

Marugoto Nippon

Shopping Asakusa

This four-storey mall in Asakusa offers a large variety of food and lifestyle goods from all 47prefectures. The first floor supermarket boasts a diverse selection of food and drink: think soy sauce, miso (soybean paste), senbei (rice crackers), sake and much more. Grab a few for a taste test comparison and you’ll definitely notice each of the prefecture’s distinctive flavours. At the adjoining food market you’ll find speciality shops selling natural honey from Ehime, aromatic coffee from Tottori and smoked seafood from Tokushima prefecture.

For lifestyle goods and homeware, head upstairs to Hagi no Kaze, where the cheerful bags are made from Yamaguchi prefecture’s traditional fishermen flags (¥4,320), or to Osaji for organic cosmetics from Gunma prefecture – the moisturising raw soaps (¥1,728) are especially popular. Prefer to feast instead? Simply make a beeline towards the top floor and grab a table at one of the restaurants serving regional cuisines.

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Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten (Tokyo main store)

Shopping Home decor Marunouchi

This homeware and lifestyle store was established in 1716 in Nara, which explains the two deers in its retro logo (deers are the symbol of the Kansai city). Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten is one of those rare artisanal stores that have survived by constantly breathing new life into traditional crafts and adapting them to suit modern lifestyles. Its Tokyo flagship store in Marunouchi stocks an extensive range of items created in collaboration with some of Japan’s most revered artisans, such as Hasami porcelain from Nagasaki and Kyoto’s Gofun nail polish (from ¥1,300), renowned for its classic Japanese colours made with the powder of scallop shells for a shiny finish.

You will also find Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten’s signature Hana Fukin cotton tea towels (from ¥756) that are soft to touch yet highly absorbent and quick-drying; adorable room fragrances packed in small milk bottles (¥1,080); and the refreshing yuzu citrus bath salt (¥2,052). The brand’s products are loved for their premium quality and functional features, often presented in simple designs and toned-down colours that are emblematic of the modern Japanese aesthetic the world has come to love.

Kiya Shop

Shopping Kitchen and bathroom Roppongi

Within a minimalist, whitewash interior akin to an art gallery, Kiya Shop holds a treasure trove of impeccably designed goods for your home and daily life, curated from across the country. The gorgeous items on display are an embodiment of Japan’s clean and sleek design aesthetic, covering everything from sleek knives and cooking spatulas to shiny lacquer bento boxes and sukiyaki nabe pots.

Whether you’re looking for a souvenir to commemorate your Tokyo trip or a gift for someone back home, these items are not only beautiful but also practical. Also, if you’ve been looking for a Japanese knife, this is the ideal spot to pick up a hand-crafted blade.

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Ocharaka

Shopping Nihonbashi

French wine – and now tea – sommelier Stéphane Danton is giving ryokucha (green tea) a modern twist. Using his finely honed palate, Danton is infusing the tea with a range of aromas ranging from the sweet to the floral and the fruity. The drink’s inherent taste and character is made more pronounced through the gentle aroma infusions.

Ocharaka looks like a tea library, with large boxes of loose leaf tea – 57 different types in total plus several seasonal options – lining its walls. It sources its tea exclusively from small farms across Japan; like wine, tea has terroir differences so while tea from Japan’s southern prefectures, such as Kagoshima, is popular for its sweet yet umami flavours, tea from Saitama (north of Tokyo) is less sweet but richer and stronger in taste.

With his keen understanding of global tea culture, Danton is able to offer aromatic tea suited to the preferences of different customers. Raspberry-flavoured tea is especially popular among German tourists, peach flavour is a hit with Chinese customers, and British and American shoppers tend to like the mint chocolate variety. If you’re looking for classic Japanese flavours instead, Danton also provides yuzu citrus, sakura, yakiimo (roasted sweet potato) or ramune (Japanese lemon soda) flavoured teas.

Ginza Washita Okinawa

Shopping Ginza

Located on the fringes of Ginza, Okinawa’s very own ‘antenna shop’ (stores run by local governments outside of their home prefectures to showcase local goods) brings a hint of tropical flavour to Tokyo’s fanciest neighbourhood. In addition to snacks, vegetables and other edibles from the island prefecture, handicrafts such as shamisen musical instruments and vividly coloured, beautifully decorated Yachimun pottery line the shelves.

The tiny café offers Okinawan noodles, Blue Seal ice cream and Washita’s scrumptious sata andagi doughnuts. If you’re looking for a unique gift, consider picking up a few small packs of Okinawa’s famous black sugar – the pouches are decorated with cute illustrations depicting scenes from the prefecture’s remote islands.

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Ishikawa Hyakumangoku Monogatari Edo Honten

Shopping Ginza

Ishikawa prefecture’s ‘embassy’ in Tokyo occupies three storeys in Ginza: there’s a café on the second floor while the basement is reserved for sake. The shop carries an impressive 1,900 products from the twin regions of Kaga and the Noto Peninsula, including seasonal edibles, handicrafts and traditional sweets. A safe bet is the ‘Kagahachiman okiagari monaka’, a cute doll-shaped wafer filled with red bean paste made from azuki beans grown in Hokkaido. Individually wrapped in decorative paper, they make for a delicious accompaniment to a cup of tea.

Nara Mahoroba-kan

Shopping Nihonbashi

Visitors to this antenna shop are greeted by Sento-kun, the fluffy mascot of Nara, whose creator was clearly inspired by the prefecture’s famous tame deer. Once you get past the welcoming committee, head straight for the food section and its savoury delicacies such as ‘narazuke’ pickles, sushi wrapped in bamboo leaves, and natto (fermented soybeans) made with extra-large soybeans. For something sweet, try the deer-shaped cookies. The Aoniyoshi restaurant nearby caters to hungry shoppers with hearty servings of Nara cuisine.

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Osaka Hyakkaten

Shopping Yurakucho

The Kotsu Kaikan building in Yurakucho houses several antenna shops, among them is this foodies’ favourite. Representing Osaka with energy and flair, the Hyakkaten is easy to find: just follow the distinct takoyaki aroma emanating from within (there’s an eat-in space for you to enjoy the treat). A top-selling sweet is the Kokyu-choco, a tiramisu-style chocolate with almonds and mascarpone on the inside and white chocolate coated with cocoa powder on the outside.

The shop also stocks an impressive selection of obscure character paraphernalia, including a figure depicting Kuidaore Taro, the clown-clothed mascot of a famous Dotonbori restaurant that operated from 1949 to 2008, and the yellow, cap-wearing Fueki doll, which is associated with a long-established stationery and industrial goods manufacturer of the same name.

Shokoku Gotochi Plaza

Shopping Marunouchi

Forgot to buy those all-important local souvenirs on your journeys through Japan? Not to worry: located within First Avenue Tokyo Station, the labyrinthine underground shopping mall at Tokyo Station, Shokoku Gotochi Plaza lets you shop for snacks, drinks and knickknacks from practically every region in the country. Look out for the ‘kuramoto zanmai’, an assortment of chocolate bonbons with various types of regional sake inside, or reach for Hokkaido’s distinctive breast-shaped ‘oppai chocolate’.

Look for these regional goodies

Chidoriya

Chidoriya skincare set

Established in 1949 to cater for local geisha and their apprentices, this Kyoto-born brand specialises in makeup, accessories and other beauty paraphernalia made almost exclusively with ingredients picked in the wild or grown with organic methods. Their travel skincare set (facial soap, herbal water, face cream, plus massage and cleansing oil – all in mini sizes) is especially impressive.

Available at Ainz & Tulpe Harajuku Questand Seijo Corty.

Pretz

Pretz (Japanese flavours pack)

Glico’s stick-shaped pretzels are available in different flavours depending on the part of Japan you’re in. If you don’t have time to crisscross the country as a Pretz completist, consider settling for this nine-pack box, which brings together the best of the regional varieties. Top picks include Kyushu’s mentaiko (seasoned cod roe), green tea from central Japan, and apple from the Shinshu region.

Available at Shokoku Gotochi Plaza.

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Hokkaido Jingisukan

Hokkaido Jingisukan

Stir-fried noodles and Hokkaido’s signature grilled mutton delicacy, together at last. Released in January 2019, this Peyoung Sauce Yakisoba, a newcomer to the ever-popular Peyoung instant ramen line, includes ‘real jingisukan-style mutton’ – you’ll have to try it yourself to find out if barbecued meat can replicated inside a packet.

Available at Don Quijote in Shinjuku and selected convenience stores.

Honjozo Crystal Fujisan

Honjozo Crystal Fujisan

The Makino brewery in Gunma prefecture boasts views of Mt Fuji from its backyard, so we think these sake makers are well within their rights to sell their stuff in a bottle modelled on the sacred peak. Made with crystal-clear water from beneath Fuji’s slopes, the sake is crisp and packs just the right amount of punch.

Available at Don Quijote in Shinjuku.

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Omiyage Hi-Chew

Omiyage Hi-Chew

These fruit-flavoured chewy candies are produced in 12 region-specific flavours, from Hokkaido’s Yubari melon and Tohoku’s cherry to Okinawa’s extra-sour shequasar citrus.

Available at Morinaga no Okashina Okashi Yasan (Tokyo Station) & Ginza Washita Okinawa.

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Daimaru Tokyo
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

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