Unforgettable gifts from Japan for under $50 (not including shipping)


Samurai Umbrella. Image courtesy of PerpetualKid.com

Once you reach a certain age, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will receive one or more of the following as gifts: a soap and loofah gift set… wine… assorted chocolates… a mug. While these gifts are practical and generally enjoyed by most people, they are, regrettably, forgettable. Why spend money on gifts that have people struggling to remember who gave it to them? Add a little zing into your gifts this year and make this a holiday they’ll never forget. Arranged in order from unique to wildly daring, any of these gifts will, at the very least, make you stand out.

Sweetly Unique

Grow Your Own Edamame Kit ($14.99) A sure-fire winner for foodies and beer lovers. The kit includes seeds, a pot in the shape of a beer glass for planting and a miniature wicker basket for harvesting. Just add water and sunlight to grow your very own beer snack. www.perpetualkid.com

Origami Napkins ($8.99) Wipe your mouth with an origami masterpiece instead of a boring old rectangle. With 40 napkins that include four different origami patterns (the Flapping Bird, the Jester Boot, the Bird of Paradise and the Polo Shirt) mealtime will never be the same again. Just follow the instructions printed on each napkin and play with your napkin instead of your food. www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/kitchen/d6fe

Japanese Mario Kart Board Game ($39.99) Go back to basics and play this two-player Mario Kart Board Game, complete with authentic sound effects from the actual video game. While a board game version of a video game may seem counter-intuitive, it is the perfect solution for video game addicts during a blackout. www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/games/e5ca/#tabs

Wonderfully Risky

Oyako Microwave Taiyaki Maker ($42) Who doesn’t love waffles shaped like fish and filled with red-bean paste? A Japanese street food favorite, you can now cook one up in the comfort of your own home in a mere 100 seconds, using your microwave and this handy kit! Try different fillings and sizes to create the perfect fish-shaped snack. www.japantrendshop.com/oyako-microwave-taiyaki-maker-from-takara-tomy-p-521.html

NoPoPo Eco Water-powered AA Batteries ($38) The NoPoPo (No Pollution Power) Battery is the perfect gift for your eco-conscious, earth-loving friend. Use the syringe to squeeze pretty much any kind of liquid (water, soda, beer) and watch your battery-operated gadgets go! In an emergency, the batteries will also run on your own urine. But water works just fine. www.japantrendshop.com/nopopo-eco-waterpowered-aa-batteries-p-546.html

Fearlessly Unforgettable

Samurai Umbrella ($27.99) Because warriors need protection from the rain, too. Complete with a katana sword handle and a shoulder strap to sling across your back, defend yourself from dishonor and the elements with a Samurai Umbrella. www.perpetualkid.com/

Potechi-no-te ($19.99) Eating your favorite snacks just got even easier. Never stain your fingers again with yellow cheese puff powder or oily grease from chips with the Potechi-no-te. With the push of a button, you can now feed yourself (or your loved one) a chip, puff or snack with the greatest of ease. Available in red, orange or green. www.audiocubes.com

Eco-Otome Toilet Sound Blocker ($21) Embarrassing bathroom sounds are a thing of the past with the Eco-Otome Toilet Sound Blocker. Small and discreet, it can be attached to your keychain and be carried everywhere. With the press of a button, the sound of a flushing toilet will play for 25 seconds, allowing you to do your business in private. Choose from pink, blue or white! www.japantrendshop.com/ecootome-toilet-sound-blocker-p-735.html

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