From sushi and sake to block prints and stylish gadgets, these gifts inspired by Japanese creations are sure to spark an interest in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai created a famous series of woodblock prints of the massive Mount Fuji around 1830. To make woodblock prints, artists would first create a sketch on paper. Then, a carver would painstakingly transfer the sketch to a woodblock, which could be inked and reprinted many times. The most famous of the series is called The Great Wave off Kanagawa, or The Great Wave for short. There are several different copies in collections around the world, thanks to it being a block print rather than a painting. The work has recently been exhibited at the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and printed iterations and interpretations have made their way into everything from books and college dorm posters to less expected mediums like this everyday tote.
Sushi dates back ten centuries in Japan, although it originally featured fermented fish instead of today’s fresh-caught, premium variety. And if you can’t get your maki rolls straight from a sushi bar in Kyoto, then straight from your kitchen is the next best thing. This 19-piece sushi kit has all the basic tools to create at-home masterpieces, including bamboo mats, a Hangiri tub for rice, utensils, and more.
A refreshing break from the age of digital photography, this Japanese-designed instant camera has become the go-to for taking retro-style photos that are back in fashion. The camera’s small size and modern colors make it perfect to toss in your bag as you explore the vibrant streets of Tokyo—or anywhere for that matter.
Matcha is having a moment in North America. While the antioxidant-filled powder has gained popularity here in recent years, matcha has been enjoyed for centuries in Japan. It’s made from ground, dried green tea leaves and plays a big role in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, where it is ritualistically—and time-intensively—prepared by a host. Unlike your average grocery store-variety tea, matcha can be expensive, and this premium matcha makes a generous and fitting gift for anyone interested in Japanese culture.
Japan’s pottery tradition is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 10,000 B.C. While early Japanese pottery prominently featured earth tones and rough edges inspired by Zen Buddhism, this popular printed style evolved from influences from China and Persia. Called sometsuke, the style is characterized by white- and blue- glazed porcelain. Snag some while shopping the streets of Tokyo or order a similar set of hand-painted bowls to bring some Eastern elegance into your home.
Pick up a bottle of sake from your local liquor store to give a loved one a reminder of a past trip to Japan, or inspire them to daydream about an upcoming adventure. You can also take your gift up a notch by adding in an authentic Japanese flask called a tokkuri and small painted ceramic cups.
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What gets you dreaming of a trip to Japan? Tell us in the comments below, and check out the rest of the 2017 Go Ahead Gift Guides to find presents for other travelers on your list!