Are you concerned because you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet? Don’t worry; JapanCulture•NYC has you covered with our last-minute Holiday 2014 Gift Guide! We have broken it down to 5 different groups: The Traditionalist, The Foodie, The Fasshonisuta, The Otaku & The Japanophile. Check out our curated suggestions below from local establishments or artists and start checking things off your list!
If you still need a gift for someone who loves traditional aspects of Japanese culture, we recommend these:
1073 Avenue of the Americas (between 40th and 41st Streets)
Kinokuniya has the best selection of Japanese calendars & planners in Manhattan. The selection varies from a 2015 Year of the Sheep wall calendar for $17.95 to a $4.95 Daruma Doll desktop calendar and everything in between!
464 Broome Street (between Green and Mercer Streets)
Kiteya features a blend of traditional craftworks and contemporary design. We recommend these “Kyo no Machiya,” made with kimono fabric and inspired by the season and festivities for each month of the year, priced at $35.00 each. The December one would make a great holiday gift, or to get more personal you could purchase the birth month of the person you are shopping for. Better yet, you could get all 12 months for a more expensive gift for someone who likes to decorate with the seasons.
For $65 you can give the gift of an individual 90-minute lesson in kimono dressing. Know someone who owns a beautiful kimono but needs assistance putting it on? This gift is perfect because they will leave able to dress themselves properly in kimono.
Wuhao is New York’s online source for tenugui for all seasons. We recommend the holiday and winter tenugui for a festive gift. We featured the $19.00 Maneki Neko Christmas one, but they have many other looks to choose from. Online orders should be placed right away to allow enough time for delivery, so don’t hesitate!
333 East 47th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
Still not sure what to give someone? Why not a membership to Japan Society? Levels of membership start at $60.00. Throughout the year that special someone will experience lectures, art exhibits, Japanese movies, language classes, and more. This is a gift that will keep giving throughout 2015!
Who doesn’t love Japanese food and drink? Here are our suggestions for the foodie on your shopping list:
57 Warren Street (between W. Broadway and Church Street)
Treat the chef in your life to a knife from Korin, which are 15% in the month of December. We featured 3 knives with various handles: Priced from left at $149.00, $189.50 and $148.00. Korin also offers in house traditional Japanese knife sharpening on a wet stone Monday thru Friday. In addition to knives, Korin has a great selection of Japanese cookbooks, housewares and a line of break-resistant glassware that’s new for 2014. Korin also has beautiful giftwrapping options, so you can make this a one stop shop this holiday season.
324 East 9th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
Shopping for a sake lover? We recommend this rare Shichihon Yari “Shizuku” sake from Sakaya, New York’s first specialized sake shop. Priced at $104.99 it comes with a beautiful box, so your wrapping is already done. It has a wonderful combination of earthy and musty notes balanced by fresh fruits. It pairs well with sushi, sashimi or any other light food.
Looking for an alternative to champagne this holiday season? We love sparkling sake! Sakaya offers a $23.99 Dassai 50 Sparkling Nigori (Yamaguchi) that has an aromatic effervescence that rivals champagne. It delivers a complex balance between sweet and dry tastes. It pairs well with tempura, fried fish, salad with bacon, meat dishes and spicy food. Why not ring in 2015 with a sparkling sake toast instead of champagne this New Years Eve?
Ippodo Tea Company
125 East 39th Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues)
Ippodo Tea Company has a great selection on gifts for any tea lover.
The Duo of Kimmo-No-Mukashi and Wakamatsu-No-Mukashi Matcha set (top image) is priced at $47. It includes two grades of Matcha, a high-quality and extra-premium variety. Both types are rich in umami and boast a mellow, earthy sweetness. The bottom photo features the Teapot Set with Kaboku Sencha for $139. This set boasts a highly cherishable, handcrafted ivory kyusu teapot, alongside a canister of Kaboku Sencha, Ippodo’s highest quality varietal. Its full-bodied sweetness and flowery fragrance are sure to satisfy even the most discriminating of palates.
10 Columbus Circle, Time Warner Center, 4th Floor
Treat the real Japanese foodie in your life to meal at Masa, the firstJapanese restaurant to receive three stars in the Michelin Guide. The New York Times once called Masayoshi Takayama’s sushi paradise “stupendously expensive” and “one of New York’s peak culinary indulgences.”
If an evening at Masa is a little more than your wallet will allow, try one of these other Michelin-starred Japanese restaurants.
595 River Road Edgewater, NJ 07020
Why not put together your own gift basket for the Japanese food lover? The possibilities are endless with the assortment at Mitsuwa, the Japanese marketplace in New Jersey. We recommend themed baskets such as Japanese confectioneries, Japanese pantry staples like dried noodles and seasoning, or a Japanese candy basket for the person with a sweet tooth.
If you are shopping for someone who loves Japanese contemporary fashion, we recommend these New York stores:
Toho Shoji NY
990 Avenue of the Americas (between 37th and 38th Streets)
Cell phone straps and charms are very popular in Japan, but have you ever thought of making your own? Do you like to give a gift you made yourself? We suggest making your own cell phone straps with the wide array of supplies from Toho Shoji! Pieces are sold individually so you can take home to DIY. Straps range from $1.00 to $2.20, while kimono fabric beads range from $2.40 to $4.00 and come in different quantities. Most important, the bells/charms come in an assortment of kawaii shapes from daruma dolls to maneki neko to randoseru and are priced from $1.50 to $3.60. These cell phone straps would even make a great present topper this season. Know someone who loves to make their own jewelry? Toho Shoji also has gift certificates available in any increment.
119 Hudson Street (between N. Moore and Franklin Streets)
For a higher-end gift from a renowned Japanese designer, head to the Issey Miyake store in Tribeca. They offer all Issey Miyake brands for ladies and men including – but not limited to – Pleats Please, Bao Bao and In-Ei.
464 Broome Street (between Green and Mercer Streets)
Kimono jackets are having a moment in US fashion with knock-off versions that can be found at establishments like Anthropologie, H&M and even Forever 21 (gasp!). Kiteya has a variety of authentic kimonos for 50% off in the month of December. Pick up one of these for the Japanese fashion lover on your gift list. The shorter jackets are great styled with jeans and boots for a fresh new winter layering look.
400 Madison Avenue (between 47th and 48th Streets)
If you need a gift for a professional man this holiday season, we highly recommend Kamakura for a made-to-measure shirt. JapanCulture•NYC attended the store’s first anniversary party and learned first-hand about the owners’ commitment to quality and customer service.
158 Allen Street (between Stanton and Rivington Streets)
New York’s only fully authorized, directly imported store Tokyo Rebel is our suggestion for gifts for those into alternative Japanese fashion. Specializing in real Harajuku street fashion, Tokyo Rebel carries popular Japanese brands like Baby The Stars Shine Bright, Sex Pot Revenge, Putumayo and Super Lovers to name a few. They carry punk, gothic and Lolita looks. We recommend giving a gift certificate because anyone who is into alternative Japanese fashion loves building the look of her coordinates.
Need some ideas for the “geek” in your life? From video games to manga to toys, check out these suggestions:
91 Second Avenue (between 5th and 6th Streets)
Known for having the most unique toy inventory in Manhattan, Toy Tokyo sells Japanese toys as well as domestic toys and collectibles. They also have a large inventory of rare and vintage items. For anime fans we recommend this Evangelion Bearbrick figure for $125.00. Toy Tokyo also has a large selection of blind boxes that are the prefect stocking stuffers with prices that vary from $4.99 to $12.99.
Nintendo World Store
Rockefeller Center, 10 Rockefeller Plaza
Forget ugly Christmas sweaters and check out these amazing Nintendo inspired holiday sweatshirts! With classic 8-bit graphics the Mario Brothers and Zelda sweatshirts are $34.99 each. If you aren’t sure what to get the video gamer on your list, Nintendo World also offers gift cards.
1073 Avenue of the Americas (between 40th and 41st Streets)
Kinokuniya is worth a second mention because it straddles the line between traditional and pop culture. Besides having a large selection of both English and Japanese manga, Kinokuniya also has some amazing gifts not in book form. These amazing Star Wars tenugui come in different designs for $29.95 each. Kinokuniya sells a range of messenger bags from your favorite manga or anime like Attack on Titan, Sailor Moon, Tsubasa and Kill la Kill. The prices range from $23.99 to $35.00. A 2015 calendar is always a good gift, especially imported Japanese manga or anime like these.
For a unique gift that combines Japanese traditional art of woodblock prints with video game characters, we suggest something from Ukiyo-e Heroes. Handmade woodblock prints, giclee prints and original concepts are for sale on the website. For $35.00 per month ($420 a year) you can give a Portraits Monthly Subscription in which a handmade print is shipped each month from their Tokyo workshop and features characters from classic games. The ‘I Choose You’ Giclee print featured above is a great gift for any Pokémon fan.
35-32 Union St Flushing, NY 11354
For a huge selection of manga head to Anime Castle in Flushing, Queens. They have the newest Attack on Titan – Before the Fall for $8.79. And for those Otaku who want to proudly display who they are, how about this $17.99 Otaku t-shirt?
What is better then giving the gift of learning this holiday season? Here are some ideas for classes, lessons, demonstrations, and more for the person on your list who just can’t learn enough about Japanese culture:
Japan Foundation New York
Classes at The Nippon Club – 145 W. 57th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)
One of the ways the Japan Foundation promotes cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and other countries is to offer Japanese language education for various levels. Schedules and prices vary, so please visit their website for full details.
Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center
950 Saint Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY 11213
A former member of the world-famous Japanese taiko ensemble KODO, Kaoru Watanabe is a musician who makes the world of Japanese traditional music accessible to New Yorkers. In addition to his performances, Watanabe holds taiko drumming classes and workshops. Please check out his website for schedules and pricing.
Sachiyo Ito & Company
Legendary Japanese and Okinawan dancer/instructor/choreographer Sachiyo Ito conducts private lessons and classes in Kabuki dance and Okinawan court dance. It’s the perfect gift for the dancer on your list, regardless of experience or skill level.
Seikou Shodou Group
Led by Kaneko Seikou, the Seikou Shodo Group teaches the “way of writing,” or Japanese calligraphy. Students transcend the art of writing and discover a deeper appreciation for Japanese culture. For private or semi-private classes on the ancient art of Shodou, please visit their website.
Urasenke Chanoyu Center of New York
153 E. 69th Street (between Lexington and 3rd Avenues)
There is perhaps no more recognizable Japanese cultural activity than the tea ceremony, and Urasenke is the biggest name in the way of tea. The center offers classes and demonstrations and participates in lectures and seminars. For more information please visit their website.
Still at a loss of what to give as a gift? For a listing Japanese stores, including some of these, please reference our 2013 Gift Guide. Happy shopping and Happy Holidays!