Ah, the good ol’ Made in Japan brand. The powers that be have really done a superb job in maintaining and promoting the image of what it means for something to be Made in Japan. For me goods carrying such a label are high quality, made in a fair working environment, and have a pricetag that reflects it –albeit, well-earned. So, they make great gifts & souvenirs!
As with most things, it is always worth checking out where the locals go. People from Japan love to shop Japanese, so it really isn’t all that difficult. (Hint, they don’t hit the Oriental Bazaar in Omotesando…) My favorite place to pick up gifts for friends and family is Akomeya Tokyo, in particular the Shinjuku NewWoman shop. They specialize in food and kitchen items (but I saw clothing items, baby items, and so on when I went today, so def. not limited to this!), but if you’re looking for “silly Japan”, i.e. tiger themed beauty masks, melting egg figurines, etc., this probably isn’t the place for you. Apparently they have a flea market and restaurant in a separate area of Tokyo as well!
We have dinner plans with extended family at their house this weekend and it is a cultural standard to always bring gifts when visiting someone’s house in Japan. We got high quality soy sauce, caramel rice crackers, and natto furikake (fermented soy bean seasoning to put over rice) for 2000 yen (about $20 USD). I was soooo tempted to buy the Mt. Fuji shaped rice crackers for myself, but fighting with my sidekick over who got to push the stroller in a busy, cramped store won out.