To help you get in the right frame of mind, our writers offer a few ideas for gifts that, actually, they wouldn’t mind getting themselves.
Christmas may not be an official holiday in Japan, but you can still bring plenty of festive cheer into the home. Francfranc has a whole range of decorations to suit your style. Here are some of our favorites (above, from left): mini wooden Xmas tree: ¥1,800; red Classical Tree, ¥16,000 (140 cm tall, decorations not included but available instore at various prices); feather bauble, ¥1,200 (a pair); embroidered owl decoration, ¥1,000; moose table mat, ¥800. www.francfranc.com (The Editorial Team)
One word: wood. Toys handcrafted from wood should belong at the top of any Christmas-present list for babies and toddlers. Not only is it the perfect, natural material for little ones to get to grips with, it’s also less offensive when strewn across the living room.
Woodpuddy’s Ring 10 is a simple but clever multi-purpose toy that consists of numerous rainbow-hued stacking rings on a five-pole wooden frame topped with funny faces and hats — all made from quality wood. Additional accessories include rope so the rings can be threaded into a giant chunky necklace. ¥4,200. www.woodypuddy.com (Danielle Demetriou/ Child’s Play)
Whether they’re your friends or relatives, if you’re being entertained this Christmas, chances are your hosts will need to put their feet up at the end of a long day and relax with a decent cuppa.
Ono Design’s tea and coffee cans for Taguchi Products are simple, attractive and would even look good in a minimalist’s kitchen. ¥1,890, ¥3,570 (pair). Available at Taguchi Products: tproducts.thebase.in and www.souvenirfromtokyo.jp (The Editorial Team)
Panasonic’s line of beauty devices are often on top of many women’s wish-lists. My personal favorite is the Pocket Refre, a portable low-frequency wave-treatment massager. Only 22 mm thick, you can take it anywhere to enjoy a soothing massage.
There are five levels of waves, so users can adjust it to their needs, and it comes in three colors, pink, pink-gold and black. ¥8,000. panasonic.jp/treatment/refre/ew_na63/ (Yukari Mitsuhashi/ On: Tech)
Perfect for the hard-core Final Fantasy fan — Tokyo-based Square Enix has launched a clean, citrus scent with hints of lavender, rose and musk that not only smells pretty good, but anticipates the eagerly awaited RPG Final Fantasy XV. In a bottle embossed with Noctis, the hero of the game, this eau de toilette is actually designed to suit men and women. ¥6,800. store.jp.square-enix.com/detail/MFFS25029 (Brian Ashcraft/ On: Games)
The overseas friend
Light, useful, designed in Japan and flat enough to send anywhere easily, Nanoca Design’s velveteen coasters come in the shape of Mount Fuji and a red round sun. ¥1,050 each at Souvenir From Tokyo (www.souvenirfromtokyo.jp). www.nanocadesign.com (The Editorial Team)
The design lover
Useful or just for fun — Masking Color is a special peelable paint developed by Ryu Kozeki for Taiyo Toryo, and available in numerous colors.
Use a brush or the paint-tube’s nozzle to color a smooth surface or create a design — and then if you get bored with it, simply peel it off. You can also peel a design off in one piece and stick it elsewhere. What better gift than that of creation! ¥1,575-¥3,990 at Tokyo Hands stores. www.maskingcolor.com (Jean Snow/ On: Design)
Getting your five-a-day and drinking plenty of water is likely a post-Christmas necessity and cult Japanese leather brand Blackmeans has made it all the more appealing. A biker-inspired banana holster and studded plastic bottle holder can add a bit of rebellion to the health regime. Banana Holster ¥24,150. Bottle holder ¥10,290. blackmeans.com (Samuel Thomas/ On: Fashion)
Undercover’s kitschy printed pouches make great runway-designer gifts, without having to break the bank. Hamburgers, cats, soup cans, champagne and milk bottles; anyone with a sense of humor should love them. ¥4,200-¥7,875. www.undercoverism.com (Misha Janette/ On: Fashion)
The drinking party
As lovely as umeshu (plum wine) can be, it’s often cloying, which makes it hard to shake the feeling you’re drinking an alco-pop.
Kozaemon Junmai Umeshu, from Nakashima Shuzo in Gifu Prefecture, however, is plum wine for adults. With its bracing acidity and balanced fruit flavor, this sake-based drink makes a great apertif or palate-cleanser between courses. ¥2,350 at Rakuten (jtim.es/qAgle). www.kozaemon.jp (Melinda Joe/ Kanpai Culture)
Winter evenings are never more convivial than when you’re sitting around a nabe, the traditional one-pot, cook-at-the-table style of eating. And even more so if the pot in question is a hand-crafted ceramic donabe from the beautiful Iga-mono range from Nagatani-en. Besides the classic stewpots, they also make steamers, smokers and delectable rice cookers, all ceramic. Order from the online shop or visit the Tokyo showroom in Ebisu. Prices vary. Iga-mono: 1-22-27 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. (03) 3440-7071. www.igamono.co.jp or toirokitchen.com (Robbie Swinnerton/ Tokyo Food File)
The music lover
“Lost Decade,” the debut full-length album from Kobe producer Tofubeats, isn’t a great gift just because it happens to be one of the best CDs to come out of Japan this year. It’s ideal because in this hour-plus disc, there’s a diverse spread of sounds.
It has straight hip-hop tracks and jittery dance numbers featuring sliced-up vocals that were very much one of the dominant sounds in music this year. But Tofubeats also takes influences from older Japanese styles such as City Pop and, with the help of singers Seira Kariya and Nanba Shiho, he crafts unabashed pop tunes that could have fallen out of a 1980s wormhole. “Lost Deacade”: ¥1,500. tower.jp/item/3230272 (Patrick St. Michel/ Listening Post)
Here’s a way to give your dog a prime piece of steak every day. Or if it’s vegetarian, how about some corn on the cob?
These stuffed toys are made of fabric, have dotty reverse sites and squeak when chewed.
For the cat, how about its own house? This cozy space-pod-like basket is hand woven in Indonesia and has a top handle to make it easy to transport.
The dog toys are priced at ¥2,730 each and the cat house is ¥19,740 (this is currently sold out, but can be pre-ordered for January) Both items are available from Flavor Design. www.flavor-design.com (The Editorial Team)