Spring is the most popular time for tourist to visit Japan and view the cherry blossoms. Unfortunately, this year many people have had to cancel or postpone their Japan trip due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you find yourself missing the East Asian country and everything it has to offer, here’s something that might cheer you up a litte: a list of essential, must-buy items from Japan that you can actually purchase from Singapore.
While these can’t completely replace the experience of visiting Japan, they will hopefully lessen your wanderlust and make you feel better about not being out and about exploring Japan right now.
1. Good-luck Charms (Omamori)
The Japanese good-luck charm, or omamori, is one of the most popular souvenirs that people bring back from their Japan. Sold outside most temples and shrines in Japan, omamori are often handmade from a silky fabric and represent various blessings such as success, love or traffic safety.
However, you don’t have to travel to Japan to get your hands on these colourful lucky charms! They are actually available online so you can order some for yourself or as a gift to friends and family as if you just came back from Japan.
You can find these good-luck charms on Shopee at SGD3.90 each.
2. Maneki Neko
Maneki Neko – the “waving” lucky cat – is another famous symbol from Japan that tourists love to buy back as souvenir.
Lucky for us, this cute cat is so popular that you can actually buy Maneki Neko-themed items from anywhere in the world. These adorable Maneki Neko Airpods cases will not only keep your airpods safe but hopefully bring you good luck, too!
The Maneki Neko Airpods cases are available on Shopee at SGD3.84 each.
3. Japanese hand fans
Folding fans are a tourist favourite as they are a convenient way to keep yourself cool while exploring the country. However, these hand fans also make a stunning piece of decoration in your house thanks to the elegant Japanese-style artworks.
If you want to bring some Japanese vibe into your home, you can get these hand fans from Shopee at SGD3.10.
4. Bamboo chopsticks
You may not be slurping on a bowl of ramen in a Japanese ramen store, but these gorgeous bamboo chopsticks with traditional designs will make eating Japanese take-out at home feel a little more authentic.
You can get these in a set of five pairs from Shopee from SGD3.01 to SGD4.83 depending on the designs.
5. Canmake Cream Cheek
This highly rated cream blush is on every beauty enthusiast’s to-buy list when they visit Japan. The creamy texture melts into your skin and gives your cheeks that natural flush, perfect for a no-makeup makeup look.
6. Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder
For years, fans of the Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder have to wait for their Japan trip to stock up on this popular powder cleanser that used to be available only in Japan (until they were made available in Singapore, that is.)
You can now order it online from the comfort of your home and have it delivered to your doorstep.
The Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder is available on Shopee at SGD21.90 per 32-piece box.
7. Shiseido Fino Hair Mask
Another must-buy beauty product from Japan, the Shiseido Fino Hair Mask is the best way to give your hair some TLC at home. It is rich, nourishing and will make your hair feel impossibly soft to the touch!
8. Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Long Long Long Mascara
If you think that you can only get the popular Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Long Long Long Mascara in Japan because the brand has left Singapore, think again. You can actually still purchase this cult favourite product right here in Singapore from Kokoro Japan at USD16.55 and Shopee at SGD21.90.
9. Kose CLEAR TURN Vitamin C Essence Mask
The Kose CLEAR TURN Essence Mask are the best-selling sheet mask in Japan for nine consecutive years and ‘Vitamin C’ is among their most popular variants. If you are running low on these, you’ll be glad to know that you won’t have to wait till the next time you go to Japan to restock.
10. Kit Kat
No one comes back from Japan without bringing back several exotic Kit Kat flavours. While not all of them are available online, you can purchase some of these Japan-exclusive flavours such as Ume Sake or Purple Sweet Potato from Kokoro Japan.
11. Glico Pocky
Pocky is another iconic Japanese snack that we’re all familiar with. While common flavours such as chocolate or strawberry are widely available at local supermarkets, flavours such as Rich Matcha Green Tea or White Peach and Strawberry can’t be found in physical stores in Singapore. Luckily, you can get them online from Kokoro Japan.
12. Calbee Jagariko Salad
This particular flavour of the Calbee potato sticks is widely popular in Japan. It tastes exactly like potato salad!
Curious to try how it tastes? Get it from Kokoro Japan at USD8.75 for 3 packs.
13. Puré Gummy
These Puré Gummy candies are famous in Japan for their addicting sweet and sour flavour that you just can’t stop eating. They come in three richly-flavoured variants: lemon, Japanese muscat grape and regular grape. You can get them from Kokoro Japan.
14. Shiroi Koibito Mixed Biscuits
The Shiroi Koibito biscuits are a must-buy souvenir for those who travel to Hokkaido. There is even a Shiroi Koibito Park in Hokkaido where you can see the entire process of making this popular treat.
They consist of two buttery crispy biscuits and a filling that is either white chocolate or milk chocolate. You can get a box of 24 biscuits from Kokoro Japan at USD30.80.
15. Meiji Kinoko no Yama (mushroom-shaped chocolate biscuits)
These adorable mushroom-shaped chocolate biscuits from Meiji are a classic snack loved by all age groups in Japan.
The buttery, crunchy biscuits are covered by two layers of chocolate: sweet milk chocolate underneath and decadent dark chocolate on the outside. You won’t be able to stop snacking on these!
Meiji Kinoko no Yama is available at Kokoro Japan at USD4.90.
16. Meiji Takenoko no Sato (bamboo shoot-shaped chocolate biscuits)
Meiji Takenoko no Sato is similar to the Kinoko no Yama above, except they come in the shape of little bamboo shoots.
There’s an ongoing debate in Japan as to whether the mushroom-shaped (Kinoko no Yama) or bamboo shoot-shaped (Takenoko no Sato) chocolate biscuits is more popular, but you can’t go wrong with either of them!
Meiji Takenoko no Sato is available on Kokoro Japan at USD4.90.`
17. Royce Chocolate Potato Chips
Chocolate potato chips may sound a little unusual but the popularity of these Royce Chocolate Potato Chips is proof of how delicious they actually are.
If you have never had these, there’s no better time than now to give them a try and see what the hype is all about!
The Royce Chocolate Potato Chips are available at Kokoro Japan at USD21.75.
18. Ichiran Ramen Hakata Hosomen
Ichiran Ramen is one of Japan’s most famous ramen chains, so it’s no wonder that tourists love to bring back their instant ramen version as gifts or for themselves.
This Ichiran Ramen Hakata Hosomen set has five servings, each one including noodles, their famous tonkatsu broth and a pack of toppings.
You can get the Ichiran Ramen Hakata Hosomen from Kokoro Japan at USD49.10.
19. Nissin Cup Curry Noodles
You can’t call yourself a Japanese ramen fan without having tried the Nissin Cup Noodles. While they are available in several flavours in local supermarkets, the curry flavour is harder to find and people often have to ask their friends to bring back from Japan.
20. Sapporo Ichiban Shio Ramen
The Sapporo Ichiban Shio Ramen is another must-buy item for those who can’t get enough of Japanese instant ramen.
The broth is rich and perfectly salted (“shio” means salt in Japanese) while the noodles are thick and chewy. You even get a pack of sesame seeds to top your ramen with.
You can get the Sapporo Ichiban Shio Ramen Kokoro Japan at USD12.85 per 5-pack bundle.
21. Uji Matcha powder
Having your tea prepared and served in Japan is an irreplaceable experience, but during this lock-down period, you can make do with making your own cuppa using authentic Uji Matcha powder.