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Updated: September 30, 2020

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), various facilities around Tokyo may change their operating days or hours. In addition, some events may be canceled or postponed. Please check official facility or event websites for the latest updates and information.

A trip to Tokyo is an exciting event to look forward to, and hunting for souvenirs can add to that excitement. However, the sheer variety of options can make it hard to choose. While curious KitKat flavors, quirky anime merchandise, and trend-setting stationery items stand out, there is an endless list of souvenirs from Tokyo that includes many impressive, lesser-known items. The following are traditional Japanese craft items that will add valuable memories to your trip and transform everyday rituals into something more remarkable. Whether it is a gift for a loved one or yourself, these souvenirs can become an important part of your life.

Tips

  • To avoid crowds, consider visiting Asakusa on a weekday.
  • Kanaya Brush is a great place to pick up a gift for an artist in your life.
  • Ubukeya offers a professional knife-sharpening service.
  • If you’re traveling in summer, Ibasen’s fans can be useful during your trip, too.

Kanaya Brush: Extensive and exciting everyday-use brush collections

Kanaya Brush, established in 1914 in Tokyo, has three stores in Asakusa, and has long been loved by the locals. Primarily using plastic-free natural materials, Kanaya brushes are expertly made by artisans who carefully combine the highest-grade animal hair to create outstanding items, each one ideally suited to its specific purpose.
There are hundreds of different brushes at Kanaya Brush. The body brush collection includes specific brushes for teeth, hair, nails, face, body, and even beard. There are specific brushes for use on different fabrics, for cleaning socks, and for shoe care. Specially crafted brushes for food preparation, artisan brushes, and cleaning brushes are also available. Traditional Japanese kitchen cleaning brushes called tawashi are a rare item to find outside Japan but are an integral part of the Japanese lifestyle—making a tawashi a unique and meaningful souvenir from Tokyo.
The make-up collection, particularly the flower-type powder brush, is crafted to offer ideal firmness on the skin—an excellent choice for a delightful souvenir. Kanaya Brush's seemingly endless categories of brushes with unique uses are worth exploring in depth.

Ubukeya: The elegance of traditional Japanese knives and tools

Ubukeya, a shop selling knives and sharp tools, was established in 1783 in Osaka and later opened premises in Edo, now known as Tokyo. The storefront of Ubukeya, which is located in Nihonbashi Ningyocho, is a wooden structure that has an early Showa era feel to it—unchanged since it was built in 1927. This distinctive store stands out in a street full of modern buildings, and is a gateway to the enchanting world of Japanese knives.
In the Japanese culinary arts, great importance is placed on the quality of the tools used. This is especially true for knives. Katsuramuki, the art of peeling daikon radishes, exemplifies the elegance of Japanese culinary techniques. The knife used in this instance is called usuba. A different knife called deba is among those used for cutting fish. The collection at Ubukeya offers both Japanese and Western knives, featuring over 300 unique styles. The products in the shop also include other sharp tools such as scissors, tweezers, and nail clippers.
The merchant-artisans at Ubukeya uphold the values of traditional craft skills. Their exquisite products are a pleasure to use and make a great choice as a refined souvenir from Tokyo.

Ibasen: The spirit of Edo in breathtaking hand fans

With a 400-year history, Ibasen is a storied maker of hand fans in Tokyo. Ibasen fans convey the essence of the Edo period (1603-1867) in a series of beautiful fan collections.
Ibasen's Edo fan collection is characterized by its simple, stylish designs using traditional colors from the Edo period, such as coral, strawberry, and indigo. These traditional colors are dyed on silk folding fans. These make a great accessory for both traditional and modern outfits. In addition to the Edo fan collection, Ibasen offers other variants, including brush-dyed fans with delicate patterns and fans with different colors on the front and back. Aside from silk, there are fans featuring kimono fabric, traditional Japanese washi paper, and other materials.
Uchiwa-e, handheld uchiwa fans adorned with ukiyo-e woodblock print images, have been popular since the Edo period. They showcase the work of various artists, incuding Toyokuni, Kuniyoshi, and Hiroshige. The "Doraemon x Ibasen" fan collection features images of characters from the popular Japanese anime series Doraemon in the style of Hiroshige's traditional woodblock prints.
Look out too for the stunningly translucent mizu-uchiwa, waterproof fans that can be dipped in water in order to enjoy the resulting effects. Ibasen also has ceremonial fans for important events, which can make for special souvenirs and celebratory gifts.