This year’s Met Gala theme — Rei Kawakubo and Comme des Garçons — got us thinking: There’s such great Japanese-made stuff worth knowing about (much of it that we’ve even written about before), so why not take the occasion to go really big on Japan? From the meticulously crafted to the intuitively designed to the wonderfully weird, welcome to Made in Japan Week on the Strategist.
A rule I’ve learned to live by: If it — and by it, I mean anything — is made in Japan, it’s better or at the very least cooler. Another one: Amazon is probably the easiest way to both decipher what these products are and ship them across the country (trying to piece together Yen conversion rates while translating Japanese websites is not easy). So we’ve compiled some of the best and weirdest that Amazon has to offer for some painless Japanese shopping. For all of you whose favorite episode of Girls is the one where Shosh is living life in Tokyo, this list is for you.
This Randoseru is what all the Japanese schoolkids wear, and on Amazon you can get it in just about any color.
Japanese incense that smells like Kyoto leaves in the fall.
Have a kawaii (that’s cute in Japanese) moment with this ruler that also has mini rabbit and ice-cream stencils.
We all know about Japanese rice cookers, but what about the strainers? This one has holes small enough to strain itty-bitty grains of rice.
This is an edible newspaper, so the babies can stay busy snacking while you get on with the reading. (We promise this is not fake news.)
A knife-sharpening stone nice enough to keep on the counter.
Twenty colorful masking tapes.
Forty-eight watercolor pens with a real brush tip.
There are only a few left of the 48 color set, but there are plenty of the 80 color set here.
A Yamaha harmonica.
A toothbrush for Japanese and American dogs.
A 2.4-inch-tall travel alarm clock with baby-blue accents.
The Kendama, a traditional Japanese toy that’s kind of like a more advanced yo-yo, is supposed to improve hand-eye coordination.
A pair of bonsai scissors, for those invested in the art of bonsai (and for those not, they’re still pretty cool).
If you’re not used to sitting up straight with your legs crossed underneath, as is done in Japan, specifically during tea ceremonies, this rattan chair will train you to get there. (It’s also pretty similar to this back-saving kneeling chair, so it can probably be used for work, too).
A bundle of 27 Japanese snacks. If you don’t read Japanese, each one becomes a mystery adventure!
Bath powders, which are the same as salts, that also have rave reviews on Amazon.
This tiny action figure is only three inches tall and looks like it’s made out of cardboard boxes, if you’re looking for a new desk friend. The eyes light up, too.
Tabi socks separate the big toe from the rest, so you can wear them with flip-flops, or just to give your big toe some private time.
This is the best snack ever, a very thin cookie dipped in flavored icing. If you’ve never had it, get this starter pack with all six flavors right now, and then decide on your favorite flavor to order in bulk (mine’s strawberry).
Nothing screams Japan like extremely detailed mini-erasers shaped like snacks.
These are like doggy-poop bags, but for diapers. Seal a dirty diaper in here and it won’t stink up the whole garbage can.
A millennial-pink pencil case for all of your mini-erasers and collapsible pens.
This mini-stapler is about the size of a grown woman’s palm.
And a millennial-pink label-maker to complete the desk-accessory set.
This waist pouch is like a fanny pack, but more socially acceptable because it hooks around a belt, instead of coming with it’s own buckle-up strap.
For those of us who still have a headphone jack, this little cat will plug into and hang off of it, which serves two purposes: (1) It’s super cute. (2) It’ll stop the jack from filling up with dirt.
Bring a piece of Japan to the fruit platter with these cute animal toothpicks.
Rayon and cotton dishcloths in gently blue patterns.
A toilet brush disguised as a cat.
A silicone lid to keep drinks hot, disguised as a pig.
Sure, they sell Ito En in America, but we’d bet the Japanese one tastes better.
In Japan, they sleep on futonlike mattresses on the floor and fold them up every morning.
It wouldn’t be a made-in-Japan list without something from Hello Kitty, so here she is in a Jenga Junior set.
Some more Japanese cotton, here in the form of a bath towel.
Japanese horse oil soap.
A scissor so compact, it folds up as small as a pen for cutting on the go.
We’ve all seen animal face masks by now, and here’s a Japanese one that’ll make you look like a dog.
The Japanese street-style magazine FRUiTS closed down this year because “there were no more fashionable people to photograph.” For all the fashionable people of earlier times, there are still old issues on Amazon.
This is currently sold out, but the paperback book collection is available here.
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