The best FREE souvenirs from Japan
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When traveling to Japan, you might be on the lookout for some souvenirs to remember your trip by. Don't get me wrong, Japan has some beautifully unique items; from hand painted fans, skillfully crafted ceramics, teas & even food. Souvenirs differ from prefecture to prefecture, city to city & even neighbourhood to neighbourhood.
If you go to any major train station or airport you will see hundreds of gift-wrapped sweets & objects from that area, awaiting their next destination. Don't feel lame purchasing any of these products because they're not just for tourists! Japanese people love bringing home gifts or buying their favourite specialty items from their hometown to share with the people they are visiting.
In saying all this, buying souvenirs can come with a hefty price tag & sometimes they might feel a little generic. So how can you overcome the price issue but still have a little memento unique to the places you've visited?
In a country that seems so futuristic, this is an element that is so old-fashioned. Nevertheless, stamps are HUGE in Japan & are a part of everyday life. Japan has stamps for everything, including geographical locations. These kinds of stamps are called Eki Stamps & they are something to be treasured.
You can find Eki stamps all over Japan. From major train stations (mostly at JR stations) to tourist destinations like bunny island, ropeways & shrines. Locating Eki stamps becomes something like a game. Some stamps are in plain sight at information centers whilst others hide behind pillars at train stations.
If you're anything like me, after obtaining your first Eki stamp you'll be hooked on finding more. It might sound lame, but I got a rush every time I located an Eki stamp amongst the crowd. My addiction was noted by other tourists who couldn't wrap their head around my overzealous approach to stamps, but once I explained it to them they wished they started their collection earlier.
I bought a small notebook dedicated to my stamp collection & it was the best $2 I ever spent. Within the pages, there are dozens & dozens of memories, that cost me nothing at all. Each stamp is highly detailed & unique to its location. Some of the stamps took more than one attempt at finding & some sent me from one end of a train station to the other with a heavy backpack & an empty stomach. Each stamp reminds me of the good times & the bad times as well as a little bit about the place I've been. For example, my Hiroshima Eki stamp has a person making Okinomiyaki on it (with noodles of course!).
There are thousands upon thousands of stamps to collect so keep a sharp eye out for them. If you're at a popular tourist destination or station & you can't find the stamp, always ask an attendant for its location; they will always be more than happy to help.
The sentence that will help you with this is:
"Sumimasen, Eki stampu wa doko desu ka?"
"Excuse me, where is the Eki stamp?"