Whether she is your mother, sister, best friend or partner, when it comes to selecting a thoughtful gift for the special woman in your life, going beyond the ordinary and delving into the realm of the extraordinary is essential. The perfect present is one that reflects your appreciation, and what better way to express your sentiment than by gifting a piece of Japan's rich culture and heritage?
In this article, we have curated a list of ten meaningful Japanese gifts, each meticulously crafted by skilled artisans using traditional techniques. These items are designed to seamlessly integrate into the lifestyle of modern women, making them far more meaningful than your regular nondescript gifts. Whether it's a birthday, anniversary, or any other occasion, these exquisite offerings cater to a variety of tastes and budgets, and are sure to impress and delight.
Japanese Gifts for Her that are Less than $50
These Mino Ware Small Porcelain Dishes are not just serveware; they are an embodiment of Japanese elegance. The dishes are crafted using the Mino technique, which originated in an area of Gifu Prefecture also known as Ceramic Valley, where pottery has been produced for more than 1300 years. The versatile and charming dishes are perfect for serving snacks or condiments, but can also be used for incense or as decorative pieces. The dusty pink colour with its elegant ume (Japanese plum) pattern is a sophisticated choice, but the plates come in various designs and colours to suit any home interior or personal style. For women who enjoy hosting and take pride in their kitchen, these dishes are a delightful addition to their collection.
Nakamura Candle Hand Cream is more than just skincare; it's a sensory experience. The cream's luxurious formula moisturises and pampers the hands, while its captivating, yet gentle, fragrance uplifts the spirit. Containing sumac wax, which is used for traditional Japanese candle-making in Kyoto, this cream melts into your skin and feels soothing even for those with dry or cracked skin. The wax is such a unique material that it is even used as a makeup base by Kyoto’s famed geiko and apprentice maiko. A rare technique using low pressure and low temperatures is used to make the wax for this special hand cream, which spreads thinly and evenly on the skin, making only a small amount go a long way. The packaging will fit nicely into any makeup pouch and is a work of art in itself, making for a truly indulgent gift. For women who value both self-care and aesthetic appeal, this product is a perfect choice.
HIPPOPOTAMUS is a Tokyo-based brand who wanted to challenge the fact that most high-grade towels in Japan used to only come in white and beige. The company founder embarked on a journey to discover unique colours from all around the world, and the first colour chosen for its signature product was a deep blue inspired by Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. These Organic Japanese Mini Towels are not only soft and highly absorbent but also eco-friendly. Created from organic cotton and bamboo rayon, which is highly praised as an eco-material and for its cashmere-soft feel, they are a testament to the Japanese commitment to quality and sustainability. Today, the product range includes a wide selection of vibrant colours for any mood and occasion, but the bold hues of the towels make them especially perfect as a gift to celebrate new beginnings, such as school start or a new job. These mini towels are a versatile and thoughtful gift for women who appreciate products that are both kind to the skin and the environment.
Kanzashi are a piece of Japanese culture and heritage; a hair accessory traditionally worn with kimono and the more summery cotton yukata. This Kanzashi Hair Stick is a beautiful representation of Japanese aesthetics and craftsmanship, made at a former iron workshop in Kyoto after the owner inherited the studio from her grandfather. Handcrafted with intricate detailing, it's a work of art rather than just a hair accessory. Adorned with a bead made from silk thread where the beginning and end of the thread cannot be seen, the hair pin doubles as a lucky charm since this feature is considered auspicious, while the circular form represents harmony in the world of Zen. With a variety of cheerful colours to choose from, the kanzashi adds a touch of sophistication to any hairstyle, making it an excellent gift for women who enjoy experimenting with their look and appreciate the grace of traditional Japanese designs.
Japanese Gifts for Her that are Between $50 - $150
Edo Kimekomi is a Japanese technique traditionally used for doll-making, and the Saitama-based company Kakinuma Dolls is famous for their unique dolls of manekineko (lucky cats), which have become incredibly popular both in Japan and abroad. The Edo Art Dolls Ajiro Ring Case is crafted using the same technique, and is a unique and charming gift for women who appreciate both art and functionality. Made with meticulous detail, precious Nishijin brocade is used for the outside of this case, while the inside is lined with silk. Serving the obvious practical purpose as a storage place for jewellery, the ring case doubles as a decorative piece in itself, serving as a perfect addition to a dressing table while showcasing Japanese craftsmanship and creativity.
The unique Mino Ware Earthen Color-Changing Cooking Pot is another product hailing from the prestigious Mino ware region in Gifu Prefecture.The pot combines tradition with innovation as it features colour-changing properties when heated, with the lid changing from orange to yellow as the temperature rises. Besides the benefit of preventing accidental burns, the pot’s colour-changing attributes add an element of surprise and delight to cooking. The small size of the pot makes it great for single households, and it’s a perfect gift for women who enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and appreciate the beauty of functional art. The pot is part of a series of pottery that reacts to hot or cold temperatures, including a range of drinking glasses and cups displaying beautiful patterns representing Japan’s four distinct seasons.
Wajima is located on the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture and is famous for its exquisite lacquerware, which is made during a workflow consisting of no less than 124 processes. MASUISAI was founded in 1997 and takes great pride in the glazing procedure of its beautiful lacquerware pieces, giving them a special lustre that can only be obtained when polished by hand. The craftsmanship that goes into creating the Single Lacquer Bead Earrings is impeccable and a testament to the art of Japanese lacquerware. The lacquer beads, with their glossy finish, exude an air of timeless elegance and are a unique blend of tradition and style. With a few variations in design and colour to choose from - including a pair that doesn’t require your ears to be pierced - the earrings from MASUISAI will make for a thoughtful and cherished gift for any woman with an appreciation for fine jewellery.
The Kyo Yuzen Dyed Linen Stole is a visual delight and a masterpiece of Japanese textile artistry. Crafted with precision and care using the Yuzen dyeing technique, which has been refined over centuries in Kyoto, the stole boasts intricate and vibrant patterns. The craftsman behind the design is not only a skilled Yuzen master, but also a mountaineer guide, and the idea for the stole came from a combination of these two mindsets. The lightweight and breathable linen fabric makes it a versatile accessory that can be worn even during the hottest of summers. With a range of striking patterns and bold colours to choose from, this stole can effortlessly complement any outfit. Whether draped over the shoulders or worn as a stylish scarf, it’s perfect for adding a touch of elegance to any occasion, and it’s an exquisite gift for women who appreciate the fusion of tradition and modernity in their wardrobe.
Japanese Gifts for Her that are More than $150
After studying crystal glass manufacturing in Germany, the founder of Kagami Crystal returned to Japan in 1930 and started perfecting the techniques he had learned abroad with the glass artform of Edo Kiriko. The result was an unprecedented exquisite form of crystal glass, recognised even by Japan's Imperial Household and winning numerous prizes abroad, too. The Kagami Crystal Flower Vase is an extraordinary piece of glass craftsmanship, featuring patterns of bamboo grass, which symbolises longevity and growth. The intricate design and flawless finish of this vase adds a touch of elegance to any room, especially when the light is reflected off its multi-faceted surface. Gifting this crystal vase is a way to bring Japanese beauty and artistry into the recipient's home, making it a gift to be cherished for years.
The Royal Organic Cotton Flared Dress is brought to you by a former worker of the intense finance sector of Japan’s bustling capital, Tokyo, who decided to take a step back and create something that would provide relaxation and enhance the quality of time spent at home or at leisure. This dress comes in three different colours - beige, grey and navy - and is a symbol of Japanese fashion excellence. Crafted from organic cotton for both comfort and style, it features a design that is both sophisticated and practical. The simple silhouette is flattering, and the seamless sewing technique makes the dress incredibly cosy even as loungewear. Suitable for various occasions, this piece is especially useful for the frequent traveller since it doesn’t wrinkle or crease, making it a go-to piece for the modern woman who values both fashion and functionality in her wardrobe.