Top 10 Must-Buy Summer Souvenirs

Summer in Japan is in full swing now! Humid hot days and nights might scare some travelers away, but August is an amazing time to visit.
Festivals, ice cold beer, special summer foods, water attractions, green woodsy hiking -- so much to see and do. If you have planned your trip here during the hot months, you can also find some special seasonal summer souvenirs to bring back home to friends and family. Or you can just purchase them for yourself to remember your journey. Some version of all of the items on this list can be found in department stores, gift shops and even in street stalls leading up to Japan's famous temples and shrines.
I took a walk around the Seibu Department Store in Ikebukuro to share the 10 best summery souvenirs.
1. Yukata
Many choices of colorful summer yukata -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Yukata are the preferred summer outfit for the best-dressed ladies and gents, especially when attending summer festivals and fireworks. You can choose your yukata and all the accessories needed at specialty shops and department stores around the country. Need some tips on how to wear your summer selection? We've got you covered here. This might be a pricey piece of Japan with which to return home, but so special and worth it. Most yukata will cost from $150.00 or more USD.
2 & 3 Traditional Sandals and Sensational Socks
Classic wooden geta (sandals) worn in summer -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Geta(traditional sandals) of different styles, made of wood, bamboo or lacquer, are the preferred footwear for your yukata outfit on a summer evening. Sizes are varied and you can choose the height and materials to match your style. But don't forget to also pick up a pair of tabi socks that separate between the big toe and the rest of the foot, so you can wear them with your new shoes! These days, you can find cute colorful modern versions of these classic Japanese toe-socks. Let your fantastic feet show! You will find a wide range of pricing for sandals with most in the range of $30.00-$50.00.  Cute socks, of course, are a very affordable souvenir, with some as low cost as $3.00-$5.00.
Fun and festive tabi socks, with the toes out for your geta -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
4. Sweet Treats
Adorable candy as a summer souvenir -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Artistic and delicious, these rock-sugar creations are morning glory plants on their own bamboo mats! You will find so many bright colored tasty sugar creations to choose from. Again, candies are an especially affordable choice. You will find tasty take-home sweets from $1.50-$5.00.
5. These Perfect Pop-up LED Cards
3D LED pop-up cards -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Seriously, how cute are these? Why send postcards home when your summer pop-up 3D card can have flickering fireflies or summer festival lanterns? You can find many adorable regular postcards for $1.00-$2.00, but these special 3D light-up cards are a bit pricier at $10.00-$12.00.
6. Breezy Beautiful Wind Chimes
Bring home the sounds of Japanese summer with charming wind chimes -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
This hot time of year, the sound of a glass or bronze furin (seasonal wind chimes) makes you feel cooler and helps you notice each little breeze. These bells are all designed using a colorful strip of  paper that really captures each little gust of wind. The tinkling of furin is a part of the soundtrack of summer in Japan. This type of souvenir also has a wide pricing range, from $8.00-$30.00, varying from factory-produced to handmade and priced accordingly.
7. Your Very Own Kakigori (Shaved Ice) Machine
You can make delicious shaved ice at home -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Japan's most popular summer treat is refreshing shaved ice with fruity, colorful syrups and sometimes topped with condensed milk and sweet red beans. If you try it while you are here, you may not want to go without when you return home. So, pick up your own shave ice maker and specialty syrups, like Japanese peach! Read more about the charms and popularity of kakigori here. I found two different versions of kakigori machines, one for just $30.00 and this fancier one for $65.00.
8. Sensu for Staying Cool while Being Stylish
Folding fans, called sensu, are a lovely summer souvenir -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
If you haven't gotten the idea yet, this season is super hot and humid. You may not want to wait to give away a sensu (folding fan) as a souvenir when you return home -- this is one gift to give yourself as soon as you arrive in Japan. You can fan yourself with these colorful summer accessories as you tour around the city and countryside. Many sensu even come with matching cases to slip in your bag. Sensu are available in a wide range of styles and prices. On some of the more costly versions, the wooden slats are made of sandalwood, creating a lovely scent as you waive them to cool down. Prices range from $5.00-$100.00, again depending on the type and maker.
9. Fancy Face Mask Souvenirs
Your "squad" will love your cute facial mask souvenirs -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Maybe you've already heard of the cosmetic face masks that are all the rage? Japan has cornered the market on kawaii (cute) beauty care. These charming character facial kits make great souvenirs since they will take up very little room in your suitcase. Each pack usually includes two masks, so, when you get back home, invite a friend over for a beauty night and a chance to take lots of silly selfies! Packs of two are available for just $7.
10. Accessorize Your Fans
Cute fan accessories -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
My favorite new find on my summer souvenir treasure hunt were these adorable paper decorations that you put on your fan. Watching them blowing in the breeze will entertain and distract you from the heat. Again, they are great for gifts as they come in a flat pack easy to slide into your carry-on. I loved the surfer and shark the most. So cute and just $5.00!

Now that you have your seasonal souvenirs shopping list, head on over to our summer theme page and explore more spots, trips and destinations!


Lauren Shannon