Have you ever been in this situation? It’s the last day of the holiday. You’ve bought presents for boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands, children, friends, colleagues, in fact everyone you can think of, but you have a nagging suspicion that there is someone you have forgotten. Time is running out, and so is money. What to do? Well, I have the answer to your prayers. Somewhere, not too far from where you are, is a hundred-yen shop.
Do not compare these shops to dollar shops in America or pound shops in the UK because they are a cut above. Japanese hundred-yen shops are a veritable treasure trove. I can happily spend an hour wandering around, just looking at things.
Still, your time is running out so I will attempt to reduce your searching time. Here are seven things you can find in a hundred-yen shop that will make excellent gifts for that cousin who suddenly shows up out of the blue, or that guy in the office everyone always calls Steve even though his name is John.
Number 1. Fans
You can find folding fans or regular fans. You can get a huge range of patterns, styles, colors and textures. They are wonderful and just shout Japan. If you hail from a warm country they will be gratefully received, as well. They fit in a pocket or a purse and are very stylish. You can spend tens of thousands of yen on a fan if you try but, for that person you neglected, these fans are very good.
Number 2. Calligraphy pens.
Japan is obviously famous for it’s kanji and for it’s calligraphy. These pens have a brush for a nib and an ink cartridge inside. The ink flows down through the brush and you can write your name beautifully. If you learnt a few kanji while you were in Japan you can write those as well. They come in a range of sizes and make a wonderful present.
Number 3. Origami paper.
This seems obvious but I felt the list would be incomplete without it. You can get different sizes, textures, colors, even shapes. The paper is great in itself but if you are into origami some of the packs come with instructions inside, in English, as well. I bought my daughter a set of paper airplanes, cakes and dinosaurs. She was overjoyed.
Number 4. Flags advertising cold beer, ice cream, takoyaki, grilled squid and other things.
My brother always takes these home when he comes to Japan. The picture is self explanatory, they are stylish and they are extremely Japanese. They brighten up any room.
Number 5. Chopsticks.
These are another item that are kind of obvious. You can get a huge range of styles. They are a wonderful gift and a fun addition to any kitchen. Plus you get to teach how to use them.
Number 6. Erasers.
These are a fabulous find and an amazing present for anyone, especially children. Japanese erasers are famous around the world these days and you can find almost anything if you look for it. There are erasers that look like sushi, cakes, fruit, toys, stationary, animals and many other things. These are small and you can fit a pile of them in your hand luggage.
Number 7. Food key rings.
I absolutely love these and I own a number myself. While you were in Japan you must have seen the perfectly realistic food that is displayed in front of restaurants. If you haven’t then just type “Japanese plastic food” into youtube and watch a few videos of how they make it. It is an art in itself. You can’t really take home one of those plastic meals but you can take home a few things on a key ring. You can find:
Rice balls and rice cakes
So, if you are short on time, or simply trying to buy gifts on a budget, please pay a visit to your closest hundred-yen shop. You can find many presents that will bring a smile to someone’s face, without breaking the bank.