Ever wonder what do to do with the leftover yen you have at the end of your Japan trip? Sure, you could exchange it before leaving—but with the exchange rate and after the fees are taken out, you’re not left with a whole lot. Here are a few things you can buy to get your money’s worth out of your last 1,000 yen.
Japan has a reputation for being expensive but it’s also a place where you can buy a variety of quality goods at a reasonable price. All you need is 1,000 yen, and you’re set—there’s a whole lot that you can buy. Make the most of your stay in Japan with something memorable. Try out new flavors of a snack or drink! Pick up last-minute gifts. Just 1,000 yen can solve your problems! Use your final yen to pick up affordable goods that you can only buy in Japan. In this article we’ll share ten tips on how you can make the most of your leftover yen.
1. Immortalize your journey with a postcard
It’s safe to say that life in the digital age has made sending letters practically obsolete. How many of us can say that they’ve actually sent a postcard? But, there’s value in the special feeling that a loved one or friend gets when they receive a postcard from you. Surprise everyone back at home with a carefully handwritten message on a designer postcard! Follow up by giving your gift from Japan in person.
Any tourist attraction will have specialty goods as well as postcards featuring regional characters (like Kumamon). In addition, post offices across Japan sell cards specifically for seasonal greetings as well as postcards from different regions of Japan. Post offices also sell stamps with featuring the natural beauty of Japan as well as popular animated characters.
Head to Daiso, the retail chain specializing in goods priced at 100 yen, for postcards and even birthday cards that play “Happy Birthday” when opened. You can buy stamps at convenience stores. Send postcards anywhere in the world via sea mail for 60 yen, or via airmail for 70 yen.
What better way to relay your travel tales than with a surprise message to loved ones back home?
Where to buy: Gifts shops near any major tourist attractions, post offices, 100 yen shops, and convenience stores.
2. Forgot a gift or two? Get some Japan-themed novelty goods from Daiso
You did your fair share of shopping for yourself, and even picked up things for family, friends, and coworkers. Yet as the final days of your trip draw near, you realize you forgot a few people—but you don’t have that much money left in your wallet. If this sounds like you, then you need to hit up the nearest Daiso for some Japanese novelty goods!
Daiso stocks an assortment of “only in Japan” knick-knacks that only cost 100 yen. Even if you don’t have a whole lot of money to spend, you’ll still be able to buy several items—you might be able to pick up one or two things for yourself as well. You’ll have fun deciding which cute items to spend your last yen on.
Where to buy: Daiso
3. Get your own pair of chopsticks
Japan has plenty of shops specializing in chopsticks, with many types of chopsticks on sale! There’s chopsticks for natto (those sticky, fermented soybeans), chopsticks for frying foods, chopsticks for certain occasions, and even chopsticks that cost hundreds of dollars.
Every family member in a Japanese household has their own pair of chopsticks. Some eco-friendly people even prefer to carry their own pair of chopsticks in a portable case when they go out to eat. Chopsticks differ by material, print, thickness, length, texture, and shape of the grip. If you don’t have the funds to splurge at a chopstick specialty store, head to a 100 yen shop for your very own pair of chopsticks to commemorate your Japan trip.
Where to buy: 100 yen shops, stores specializing in chopsticks, etc.
4. They’re surprisingly popular—Nail clippers and compact umbrellas
Believe or not, visitors to Japan routinely buy nail clippers and compact umbrellas. You might be thinking, “Why would I travel all the way to Japan just to buy those things?” but you’d be surprised at what ends up inside tourists’ shopping baskets. It all comes down to the affordability and high quality of Japanese nail clippers and compact umbrellas.
Japanese nail clippers are designed in such a way that nail clippings don’t fly all over the place. They also come with a cover, making them suitable for carrying around. Nail clippers that cut through even the toughest of nails are also on sale in Japan.
The compact umbrellas sold in Japan are light, sturdy, and come in a variety of designs. They often come in a waterproof pouch so that you can store your wet umbrellas without getting yourself and your belongings wet! If you feel the urge to splurge, go for a compact umbrella that opens with the touch of a button. It’s a great way to keep yourself dry when you get caught in a sudden downpour.
Where to buy: Drugstores, Tokyu Hands, Loft, Plaza, 100 yen shops, stores inside train stations, etc.
5. You can’t go wrong with a Japanese folding fan
Foldable fans, known as sensu in Japanese, are a standard gift typically bought on a trip to Japan. Choose a Japanese design or something elegant, and use it to decorate your home. With the use of air conditioners and electric fans, folding fans are less commonly used indoors, though they are quite helpful when outside. Paper fans in Japan are coming into fashion as a way to show one’s commitment to saving energy and the Earth.
Where to buy: Gift shops near major tourist attractions, 100 yen shops, Tokyu Hands, Loft
6. Gotta eat ‘em all! Stock up on the 300+ flavors of KitKat
KitKat are an undeniably popular choice to give as a gift from Japan. And, most of them are limited edition—available only during a certain time of the year, or only at a certain region or specific spot in Japan. Buy a couple of rare ones to make your friends jealous.
If you need ideas on what KitKat to buy and where to get them, see these articles:
These Amazake (sweet sake) flavored KitKat sold at a local supermarket are available only in the springtime
7. The ingredient that’s taken the world by storm: matcha-flavored snacks
Matcha is a pretty popular commodity with global recognition these days. And in Japan, you have plenty of matcha snacks to choose from. There’s matcha chocolate, matcha caramel, matcha cookies, matcha pie—the list goes on!
Where to Buy: Mega Don Quijote Shibuya, supermarkets, convenience stores, etc.
Be sure to check out these articles on matcha sweets to look out for!
8. Pick up some dagashi, old-school Japanese snacks
Dagashi are bite-sized Japanese snacks and sweets that come in a variety of flavors. Like penny candy, these inexpensive treats are priced between 10 to 100 yen—perfect for a young child’s allowance. Neighborhood dagashi stores used to be all over Japan, but they’re hard to come across nowadays.
For the best selection of dagashi, head to Daiso. Dagashi are sold 2 for 100 yen, 3 for 100 yen and 4 for 100 yen. You're sure to have a hard time choosing what and how many to buy.
But, you will definitely have fun spending your last yen on these snacks and sweets. Be adventurous and try them all—you'll get satisfaction from stretching your money!
Bonus: Village Vanguard, a retail chain popular among young Japanese, has their own selection of unique sells unique snacks and sweets. You’re bound to find something that catches your eye in its maze of novelty goods, books, and snacks.
This product very similar to a Japanese brand of cold medicine, but it’s actually chocolate intended to increase your romantic prospects!
9. Bring the taste of Japan home with ready-made foods and DIY replica food kits
Throughout your stay in Japan, it's likely that you had drinks at an izakaya, ate at a Japanese restaurant and tried sushi or tempura, visited a trendy cafe, or had fun sampling on-the-go snacks like taiyaki and yakitori. But few travelers have the opportunity to try authentic, home-cooked Japanese food. One thing you’ve probably never heard of isn't glamorous, expensive, nor will it rack up likes on your Instagram.
It’s furikake, a topping made from dried fish, eggs, seaweed, and other ingredients. Furikake is commonly used as a substitute for side dishes or as a bento box topping. There’s even a variety that’s fortified with calcium and other nutrients. Furikake is especially popular among kids.
The appeal of furikake lies in its simplicity. Sprinkle over a bowl of rice, serve with miso soup, and you’ve just made a classic Japanese meal. If you don't have any freshly made rice, prepackaged rice will do.
Shokugan—DIY replica food kits—are another way to spend your last 1,000 yen. Kappabashi Kitchen Town near Asakusa is perhaps the best place to unleash your inner artist and make realistic food replicas.
If you don’t have the time or money to head over to Kappabashi to try your hand at replica food art, you can get a DIY kit at Daiso. Choose your favorite topping and create your very own dessert. What better way to bring your memories of Japan to life?
10. The ultimate last-minute splurge—capsule toys
Before you leave Japan, hit up a Gacha capsule toy machine at the airport. There’s no end to what you can find inside each capsule: an anime character figurine, keychains, model trains...part of the fun is finding which machine to play! Each turn costs between 100 and 300 yen. While you’re waiting for boarding time to commence, why not buy a few things at a Gacha machine?
Where to buy (at airport):
5th floor of the Central Building inside Terminal 1 of Narita Airport (located near the restaurants)
1st basement floor of Terminal 2 of Narita Airport (in front of 7-Eleven)
3rd floor of the Concourse inside the International Terminal 1 of Haneda Airport (Wing Airport Haneda 3rd Floor)
As you can see, there’s a whole lot you can do at the end of your Japan adventure with just 1,000 yen. Even if you don’t have much money or are only staying for a short time, you can experience Japan to the fullest—complete with fun-filled memories and a suitcase full of goodies!
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*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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