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Set aside any preconceptions about Poundland or dollar stores, Japanese Daiso shops are a (seemingly) never ending treasure trove of goodies that you’ll actually want when you get home. Perfect for a last minute souvenir.
When travelling, I like to go to small independent shops to buy for gifts for family and friends. I’m especially fond of flea markets, so whenever I’m in Kyoto I always try to time my trip with the Toji Temple market (on the 21st of every month) – the perfect place for picking up souvenirs. But when I’m short on time and budget and I need a one stop shop to find everything quickly, Daiso is a great place to go.
Daiso is the Japanese equivalent of a “dollar store” but with an enormous range of products. It is a large chain with branches all over Japan, so chances are there will be one near you at some point during your trip. In Tokyo there’s a large store in Odaiba, close to the Miraikan (the brilliant National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation).
You might find yourself overwhelmed by choice (and bright lights), so for a bit of inspiration, here are my three favourite souvenirs:
1) Craft supplies
Washi masking tape, stationery, stickers, felt and other textiles, decoupage paper and stencils… how much can I squeeze in into my check-in bag? These items are perfect gifts for kids (and anyone who enjoys scrapbooking and other crafts).
2) Bento box accessories and kitchenware
Bento making has become popular at home as well as in Japan. It’s not hard to see why; what could be more fun than adding dividers or cute pics to your lunch… or punches to cut letters and decorative shapes out of vegetables and nori sheets?!
After travelling in Japan, you’ll find that miso soups don’t look quite as nice in a tea mug. You can also mix and match items to create your own Japanese tableware set to bring home.
3) Japanese condiments
Most condiments are from the same brands you’ll find in supermarkets, but if you order online you tend to pay a lot more. I always stock up on dashi stock granules, and my favourite: furikake. Furikake are tiny savoury sprinkles, containing a mix of sesame seeds, dried vegetables, fish flakes, to scatter over steamed plain rice.
Even if you can’t read Japanese, you can guess the main ingredients by looking at the pictures on the packaging. Popular flavours include wasabi, salmon flakes, and umeboshi (sour pickled plums).
Whether you love shopping for trinkets, textiles or vintage records, our travel experts (and daiso aficionados) will help you find souvenirs worth making space for in your suitcase. Happy daiso shopping!