The Gift Guide

The Luxury Gift Guide: Inspired Gifts for Japanophiles

Luxury Gifts for Japanophiles

Is someone on your luxury gift list a Japanophile – someone who loves Japan and its culture? Then why not get them a luxury gift from or about the country? We’ve got a dozen ideas for luxury gifts for anyone who loves or wants to know more about Japanese culture. Here’s our luxury gift guide with inspired gifts for Japanophiles.

Luxury Gift Ideas for Those Who Love Japanese Culture

Japan has a rich history and culture, so it’s small wonder that you’re in need of a luxury gift for one or more Japanophiles. From the electric metropolis of Tokyo to the charm of Kyoto, to its gorgeous mountain ranges, Japan has more than a lifetime’s worth of sights to see, history to learn and culture to appreciate.

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Many people are fascinated by Japanese culture and history, and want to learn more. Others have lived there and feel nostalgic, or dream of visiting.

Whatever the reason, this luxury gift guide is filled with ideas for items and experiences for anyone who loves Japan and wants to celebrate Japanese culture. Whether for the holidays, a birthday, an anniversary, or just because, if you’re seeking a luxury gift for the Japanophiles in your life, we’re pretty sure you’ll find the perfect present somewhere on this list.

How to Find the Best Luxury Gift for Japanophiles

1. Contemporary Fiction

How about a recent novel set in Japan, or written by a Japanese author, as a luxury gift for someone who loves Japan? If you live in a city like New York or San Francisco with an outpost of the Kinokuniya chain of bookstores, you can find a great selection of animé, manga and Japanese literature close to home. It’s the ideal source for a luxury gift for all of the Japanophiles on your list.

First opened in Tokyo in 1927, and now the largest bookstore chain in Japan, Kinokuniya is a destination for not just books, but also stationery, gel pens, notebooks, magazines and toys.

luxury gift Japanophiles

A couple of suggestions on contemporary fiction to get you started. For those who have already read all of the novels written by the incredible Haruki Murakami (any of which would be a perfect luxury gift for your Japanophiles), other fantastic translations of contemporary Japanese novels include Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto , The Thief  by Fuminori Nakamura and Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata.

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2. Art and Coffee-Table Books

Whether to dive into, or just to browse, anyone who loves Japanese food, culture, art and architecture would treasure one of these stunning non-fiction books. If you make one of these your luxury gift to the Japanophiles in your life, you might be rewarded with an excellent meal or two in return. Win-win!

Home cooks will love Phaidon’s Japan: The Cookbook. It has more than 400 recipes from acclaimed food writer Nancy Singleton Hachisu. Phaidon has also published a comprehensive history of The Japanese Garden. In it, author Sophie Walker explores more than eight centuries of the iconic gardens of Japan.

Japanese Zen Gardens ($31.20) by Yoko Kawaguchi and Alex Ramsay would also make a perfect luxury gift for the Japanophle in your life. The volume includes beautiful photographs, as well as an overview of the history and significance of Zen gardens.

This fall, Taschen will publish Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. Utagawa Hiroshige’s final masterpiece, the volume provides a woodblock journey through 19th-century Tokyo in the ukiyo-e tradition. Bound in the traditional Japanese fashion, it reproduces one of the finest complete original sets, which is in the collection of the Ota Memorial Museum of Art in Tokyo.

luxury gift Japanophiles

3. Pearls

Mikimoto pearls would be a welcome gift for lots of people (count us among them), but especially for someone who loves Japan and Japanese culture. Pearls are newly chic, so you’ll be totally on-trend with this luxury gift for your stylish Japanophiles. In 1893, Mikimoto’s founder, Kouichi Mikimoto became the first person to cultivate pearls in the world, so a luxury gift perfect for a Japanophile would be a pearl necklace, earrings, or a ring from this luxury jeweler.

Alternatively, you might want to gift a string of Akoya pearls. They’re found off the coast of Japan and are often smaller than pearls found elsewhere. In Japan, they are coveted for their perfectly round shape and brilliant, shiny appearance. Japanese jewelry house Tasaki has been farming the pearls and crafting them into jewelry for over 70 years.

Luxury Gifts for Japanophiles: Mikimoto Pearls. Courtesy Photos.

4. A luxurious kanzashi hair pin

A gorgeous luxury gift for Japanophiles would be a kanzashi hair pin. They’re stunning, and come in a range of sizes and prices. Many are hand-crafted to look like delicate and lifelike flowers, butterflies or even dragonflies resting gently in the wearer’s hair

luxury gift Japanophiles

Luxury Gift for Japanophiles: a luxurious kanzashi hair pin.

5. Fruit

Gifts of stunningly beautiful fruit are traditional in Japan for weddings, successful business deals, and even hospital visits. Good to know as you select a luxury gift for someone who loves Japan.

Some of the most coveted fruit sells for thousands of dollars (or even more at auction). When in Tokyo, pay a visit to one of the Sembikiya fruit emporiums. The luxury fruitier has been run by the same Samurai-descendant family since 1834.  Their retail stores are more akin to fruit museums, luxury boutiques, or chic art galleries filled with works made from fresh fruit.

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As much as we really wish that someone would give us a fruit sandwich, or a seedless watermelon – or even better, a SQUARE watermelon as a gift, we understand that they’re wildly expensive. And would require a trip to Japan to procure.

However, if your budget won’t stretch to accommodate giving someone a $21 apple, or a box of cherries for $4 apiece, you can join in the tradition with a wee bit less investment. For example, you could gift a delivery of Japanese fruit flavored mochi from Kyoshin. The sweet rice cakes come in strawberry-blueberry; mango; peach and pineapple.

6. Home and Kitchen Wares

There are some kitchen and home items made in Japan that are truly world-class and reflect both technology and artistry. They include incredible rice cookers, which are available in a wide range of prices, depending on your budget. And Japanese knives.

MUJI

The Japanese retailer MUJI has expanded significantly since its original launch in Japan in 1980. The brand offers a wide variety of products made in Japan, including household goods, apparel and food.

The store’s US website has an excellent selection of tabletop and kitchen items like sleek toasters, rice cookers, serving trays and the like. If you live in New York, San Francisco, LA, or Portland, Oregon, head to one of their stores and you’ll definitely find wonderful gifts. We predict you’ll leave with a few things for yourself, too. The latest MUJI store opening in Manhattan was just over the July 4th holiday this year; the new store is on East 59th Street.

Sushi Rice

You can couple any kitchen-oriented gift with the best Japanese rice for those who love making their own sushi. Shirakiku Rice Koshihikari ($36.38 for a 15-pound bag) is an excellent choice.

Knives and more

Japanese knives are highly prized by chefs and home cooks – why not gift one or more of them? Williams-Sonoma has an extensive selection of cutlery made in Japan.

They also stock a kitchen appliance commonly found in Japanese kitchens: a sleek water boiler and warmer from Zojirushi ($139.95). Perfect for entertaining, it quickly boils water, then keeps it at a chosen preset temperature. 

Luxury Gift Japanese Culture

Luxury Gifts that Celebrate Japanese Culture: Kitchen Essentials

Chopstick Rests

Finally, chopstick rests are a popular gift, and they come in all price points. There are playful and whimsical ones, like the ones you’ll find on Houzz. Or you could go for a top-of-the-line silver set from Christofle ($310 for a set of two).

7. Japanese spirits and barware – Whisky and Sake

There is a long tradition of glass-making in Japan, with specialties varying by region. For example, Edo kiriko is a glass-cutting method acknowledged as one of Tokyo’s traditional handicrafts. Ryukyuu glass is the result of a glass-making method acknowledged as the traditional handicraft of Okinawa.

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This Fuji Glass Fujisan Rock glass ($48.95) is a lovely way to honor the tradition of Japanese glass-making – and also give a nod to the iconic Mt. Fuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You could go over the top and include a bottle of fine Japanese whisky alongside it.

Or gift a hand-blown saki tasting glass from Usuhari ($29.00). A bottle of premium saki would be the perfect luxury companion gift.

8. Classic Films on DVD

Even in the age of streaming, there’s still something wonderful about getting someone a box set of DVDs, particularly if they are movies by an established, classic director. They’re a great item to collect, and the perfect excuse to catch up on beloved films, new or old.

Many will already be familiar with director Hayao Miyazaki, the esteemed director of animated films such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle. These are films enjoyed by audiences around the world, and yet since many of Miyazaki’s films are nearly impossible to find on any streaming platforms, a DVD box set ($105.45) would definitely make the perfect gift. This one includes 11 of Miyazaki’s movies.

Films can also provide an expansive window into a country’s history. You probably already know of Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirō Ozu, two of the world’s most legendary and influential directors. Both of these men have made movies that have truly influenced the course of cinematic history. Even though many have probably already seen Seven Samurai, all the more reason to get this box set ($299) of Kurosawa’s work or this box set ($65.62) of Ozu’s, which both include many other iconic films.

Current Japanese cinema is no less worth watching, and another gift idea is dinner and a date to watch the film Shoplifters, which won the Palme D’or at Cannes Film Festival when it premiered last summer.

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9. Language classes

One of the best ways to appreciate a culture is to learn the language. So how about giving someone who loves Japan the luxury gift of Japanese lessons?

Options will vary depending on your location. For those in New York, the Japan Society has some wonderful offerings. There are weekly courses in vocabulary and grammar, and conversational and written language. They also offer calligraphy classes for learning kanji (some of the characters used in Japanese written language).  

For those who may not have a local course available nearby, consider a subscription to Rocket Japanese ($149.95). They have audio lessons, help with pronunciation, lessons in kanji, study assistance, and classes on Japanese culture.

10. Martial Arts Classes

Martial arts are a form of self-defense that descended from the Samurai method. This is a sacred practice that is still taught today in Japan and around the world. There are numerous iterations, including judo, karate and aikido. Lessons in martial arts would be a terrific luxury gift for Japanophiles.

There are dojos throughout the US where you’ll find lessons available. If you happen to live in New York, we recommend classes at Seido in Midtown. They offer a variety of karate courses for all ages, as well as retreats and more.

11. Histories of Japan and the Japanese People

For eager students of Japanese culture, and perhaps one of the Japanophiles on your list, an excellent luxury gift would be a comprehensive overview of an element of Japanese history.

Tokyo From Edo to Showa 1867-1989: The Emergence of the World’s Greatest City ($28.95) by Edward Siedensticker provides a comprehensive history of Tokyo. A History of Japanese Religion ($22.75) by Kazuo Kasahara shares seventeen different perspectives on religious history in Japan, including the history of Buddhism, Shintoism and other monastic traditions.

Legends of the Samurai ($19.95) by Hirokai Sato offers a collection of the mythologies and stories around Samurai warriors. And Lawson Fusso Inada’s Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience ($18) addresses the experience of  Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II. It’s an important chapter of history for any American interested in Japanese culture to reckon with.

luxury gift Japanophiles

Histories of Japan make a great luxury gift for Japanophiles.

12. Just for Fun

In Japanese, the term “kawaii” refers to the adorable cute aesthetic of pop cultural icons like Hello Kitty. You can embrace that concept with a happy luxury gift for your Japanophiles. Bring a smile to lunchtime with this Kotobuki Ninja Bento set ($20.00).

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The Kotobuki Maneki Neto Charms ($8.47) are adorable collectible figurines that mean “lucky cats” in Japanese. Each one conveys good wishes in a different area – for example, the white one is a wish for good health. There are others that are talismans for career success, warding off evil spirits, and good fortune.

Finally, what could be more fun than setting the dinner table with this Gone Fishin’ stainless steel flatware (set of 20, service for 4, for $110)?

12 Luxury Gifts for Anyone Who Loves Japan

That’s it! Our picks for the best luxury gift for the Japanophiles in your life. And of course, if you want to go totally over the top, by all means, gift them plane tickets! A visit to Tokyo or Kyoto would definitely be the very best luxury gift of all for anyone who loves Japanese culture.

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.

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