5 Bizarre Cheapo Gift Ideas from Japan

Note: This piece originally ran as a guest feature at TokyoCheapo.com. Head over to TokyoCheapo for Tokyo’s best deals, cheap restaurants, and anything else a true cheapo in Asia’s greatest metropolis needs. 

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 scoured Tokyo stores for the five most bizarre – but cheap – gifts we could find to shock and confuse family and friends back home:

1) Fundoshi – 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 purveyor oddities and gag gifts Don Quixote, 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. By far the best gift for making an impression (2,850 yen). 


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