As expats, it’s always hard for us to find good gifts to bring back home to our folks. We could spring for a traditional Japanese gift, but we’re sure our uncultured parents wouldn’t know what to do with a kimono or a decorative fan and we’re certain that expensive kokeshi doll will end up a chew toy for the dog (or our feral younger sisters) in no time.
That’s why we asked our friends Tokyo Desu to scour the Tokyo stores for the five most cheap bizarre gift ideas from Japan we could find to shock and confuse family and friends back home:
Perfect for your most shameless male friends and family members, the fundoshi is a traditional garment that is the Japanese equivalent to a kilt. That is, it’s only worn for ceremonial purposes these days, or by weirdos trying to make a statement about how hipster they are (990 yen).
2) Custom Cup Ramen
For only a few dollars at the Nisshin Ramen Museum in Yokohama, you can put together your own custom flavor of cup ramen for the discerning disgusting college student in your life. You can go for the most gross-out combination for a cute gag gift, or try to come up with an appealing concoction (300 yen per cup).
3) Christmas Tree Mask
Found at purvey at oddities and gag gifts, the Christmas tree mask lets younger family members pretend they are a Christmas-themed luchador for the holidays – and probably long after that too (1,470 yen).
4) Crazy Kit Kat Flavors
Japan, for whatever reason, took the Kit Kat bar concept and ran with it, introducing literally hundreds of odd flavors. Many are seasonal flavors available for a limited time. You’ll find several varieties at any convenience store, but the best place to find the truly wacky ones are at souvenir kiosks at major Tokyo train stations, or whatever far-flung town you happen to find yourself in (130 yen for one pack, 290 for family bag).
5) (Splurge option) Hentai Woody
Hentai Woody is the nickname given to a Revoltech brand, hyper-realistic figurine of the iconic Toy Story hero. Rumor has it the doll was designed based on a screencap of Woody in mid-blink during one of the series’ films. This is the gift nuclear option – guaranteed to make the recipient feel uniquely repulsed and amused at the same time. Guaranteed to make an impression (2,850 yen).
And if you’re hungry for more ridiculous gifts…
A good source for those inspired by wacky Japanese artifacts: