Top 5 Japanese souvenirs – recommended by foreign residents in Japan

KitKat, chopsticks, matcha, sake, mochi…everything is food-related

YOLO Japan Corporation (CEO: Taisuke Kaji, Tokyo) conducted a survey on souvenir recommendation for overseas travelers by foreign residents in Japan. The number of registered foreigners on YOLO Japan is 84,000 from 224 countries and areas.

As only one year is left until Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics, a market for overseas visitors is expanding as the number of foreign residents and overseas visitors are increasing.
There are guide books and websites where you can get tourism information from, but many travelers also rely on their friends who live in Japan. Now, YOLO JAPAN conducted survey on what foreign residents recommend overseas visitors to buy for a souvenir and asked reasons.

Survey period: March 4 – 24, 2019
Number of respondents: 443


[Top 5 Japanese souvenirs recommended by foreign residents in Japan]

1: KitKat – 70 votes

・KitKat is the most popular and known souvenir from Japan. It’s a must-buy! (USA / 20s / Male)

・When I tried matcha KitKat for the first time, I was shocked by how delicious it was. My family and I love it. Matcha taste is definitely the most popular one. (Canada / 20s / Male)

・You can buy KitKat in any country, but there are tastes only available in particular areas or in some seasons. So, it could be something special as a gift. (India / 30s / Male)


Phone interview (Canada / 20s / Female / Length of residence: 1.5 year )

YOLO JAPAN: Could you tell us why you chose KitKat? What’s so good about it?

Answerer: When I first came to Japan in 2012, it was already popular among foreign residents in Japan. KitKat is already known as it is sold in other countries as well, but Japan has ones only available in Japan or in some seasons. That’s why it’s more popular. Their way of marketing is smart.

YOLO JAPAN: It’s surprising that it has been popular for so long. But it makes sense. If they find Japan-limited flavor, they would buy it for a souvenir.

Answerer: Right? I’ve lived here for a long time, so I don’t really buy any for myself, but I always recommend my friends to buy some weird flavor like wasabi. Now I’m interested in amazake flavor. When I recommend KitKat to my friends, they always give me a good reaction.

YOLO JAPAN: Wasabi flavor sounds interesting. But it’s very Japanese. Thank you for your time.


2: Chopsticks – 51 votes

・They’re really cool! Western people love them for sure. (Italy / 20s / Male)

・They’re very Japanese and there are many designs. It’s a part of Japan’s “kawaii” culture. I always recommend shops where you can get your names on chopsticks or customize them by yourself. (Japan / 20s / Female)

・Everyone would know chopsticks are Japanese souvenirs if someone give them to you, and they’re known as traditional tableware worldwide. (USA / 40s / Male)


Phone interview (Spain / 20s / Female / Length of residence: 1 year)

YOLO JAPAN: What are the reasons you recommend chopsticks?

Answerer: I have three reasons. First, they’re very Japanese. Some has a cherry blossom pattern and it’s cute. Second, not only they could be a decoration but also good for practical use. And they don’t need much space. They won’t be gone like snacks, and they remind you of Japan every time you use them. The last reason is they’re affordable.

YOLO JAPAN: I see. Some people have custom chopsticks. What do you think about it?

Answerer: I like the ones with your name on them. If they’re not expensive, I want one for myself too.

YOLO JAPAN: Having chopsticks made with your own design is special. But why do you think chopsticks are popular among non-Japanese people?

Answerer: Japanese culture is popular in Western countries now and many people follow it. And eating food like Japanese is the easiest way to appreciate the culture. By using chopsticks bought in Japan, meal time will be more fun, and you remember about Japan. They are already well known, but not many people use them regularly, so it gives you a special moment. It would be even better if you get chopsticks and a rice bowl. And what’s good is that they are available even at 100-yen shops.

YOLO JAPAN: It’s nice that with chopsticks, people can experience Japanese culture in their countries. I’m glad as a Japanese too. Thank you.


3: Matcha – 46 votes

・Matcha represents Japanese culture, and it’s healthy. (Nigeria / 30s / Male)

・If you get a pack of matcha, it’s convenient to carry. You can taste Japan with a reasonable price. (New Zealand / 30s / Female)


 4: Sake – 32 votes

・Nowadays, sake has become popular among overseas visitors. I recommend it as one of souvenirs that represent Japan! (China / 30s / Male)

・I like sparkling sake. It’s not that famous yet, but it tastes like prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), so I think it will be very popular soon. (UK / 20s / Female)

・It’s only available in Japan. Sake is very famous in Nepal, and especially elderly people like it. (Nepal / 20s / Male)


5: Daifuku / Mochi – 28 votes

・They are Japan’s traditional food that you can’t get anywhere else. And they don’t need to be refrigerated, so they’re suitable for souvenir.

・I especially recommend sakura mochi. You can enjoy cherry and mochi, two things that represent Japan, at the same time, and you can sense the spring too. (UK / 30s / Male)



From the survey, it was found out that overseas visitors or residents have a strong interest in Japanese food culture as every item was food-related. At the same time, when they recommend their friends or family what to buy, they choose something Japanese, something they can feel Japan, or something easy to carry.