Thursday, 4 March 2010

Japanese Souvenirs for All Seasons

Looking for the perfect Japanese gift or souvenir can be hard, because the shops that do carry traditional-like Japanese products are hard to find. Hukujungo (福順号), east of JR Sannomiya Stn (in the building to the east of Daiei), not only deals in traditional Japanese merchandise, but its display changes with the seasons. 

From January through early March, they have a large selection of quality hina dolls on display for Girl’s Day (March 3rd). The price tags may bend your credit card so far it would break, but they do stock smaller, lower quality dolls, too. On the heels of Girl’s Day is Children’s Day (formerly known as Boy’s Day), and the display changes to miniature full samurai regalia, helmets and warrior boy dolls in early March. Once again, mind your credit card doesn't snap. 

As summer approaches and everyone is spending more time outdoors picnicking and barbequing, Hukujungo sells a wide variety of fireworks and Japanese uchiwa fans (at reasonable prices) from June through September. The array of fireworks readily available is mindboggling for an Australian like myself, because fireworks are banned there. One reason for Australians to visit Japan in summer.  (Note: Most parks, beaches, rivers and other public places restrict the use of fireworks to 9 or 10 p.m., and some locations restrict the use of rocket fireworks.)

Hit October, and everyone begins wondering where the year went.  The display of hagoita and other items displayed at New Year in Japan fill the shelves from late October. Soon after New Year’s Day, the display reverts to the hina dolls and the cycle begins again.

I found the clerk, who speaks English well, to be very friendly and willing to explain the various aspects of the goods on display--their meaning, use and significance. Of course, window shopping is no problem. Go in a browse and learn a bit about Japanese culture while you are there. Some dolls are displayed at the back of the shop year round. You may be able to pick up an off-season bargain, like I did in Matsuyamachi (Osaka’s doll district) many years back.

Web site (

Business Hours:
10 a.m. ~ 7 p.m. Closed Thursday (Not closed during the busy seasons January~April, July~August, but closed for most of May and October.)
Address: 5-3 Kumoidori, Chuo-ku, Kobe
Phone: 078-221-1992

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