Welcoming New Beginnings: Housewarming Gifts Ideas directly from Japan

by Nana Young

Woman giving a wine bottle her friends at entrance door.

If you’re searching for the right housewarming gift for your Japanese friend, colleague, relative, or neighbor, you need to do your due diligence. Japan’s culture and traditions are unique. Hence, you must be careful not to get something the recipient considers offensive. For instance, did you know that lilies don’t make great housewarming gifts because they’re associated with funerals in Japan? Offering the right gift will also endear you to the recipient, as Japanese people are typically appreciative of even the smallest gestures.


Introduction to Japanese Housewarming Traditions

Woman buying gift at a department store

In Japan, it’s customary to give a gift when people move into a new home. Such presents are housewarming gifts and they are also popular in other countries. However, Japan’s take on the endearing practice is slightly different because more value is placed on the thoughtfulness behind the gift.

Firstly, Japanese traditions encourage housewarming gifts that have some cultural significance. Secondly, your gift should serve as a reflection of what you wish for the recipient, such as good luck, happiness, health, peace, wealth, or fertility. Japanese customs also encourage you to give gifts to your neighbors when you move into a brand new house. This is part of the temiyage gift-giving tradition, where you bring a gift every time you are invited to a home, and not just a housewarming party.

Whether you’re looking for a present to give to your new neighbor, a thoughtful housewarming gift for loved ones who recently moved, or a souvenir to avoid visiting a home empty-handed, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 awesome gift ideas from Japan!


1. Sophisticated Tea Sets for Serene Moments

Woman buying gift at a department store

Our first recommendation is a gift of sophisticated tea sets. Tea drinking is such a core part of Japanese culture that one has to consider it when looking for gift ideas for any occasion. However, the traditions that revolve around Japanese teas are more nuanced than you might think. The value of tea isn’t only in its taste or texture but also in the preparation process and the interactions with others around the table. That is why Japanese tea ceremonies help to instill positive traits such as good manners, patience, discipline, and humility. Keep the aim of tea-drinking in mind when shopping for the right gift worthy tea set.

Choosing the right Japanese gift set for tea

Only consider beautifully crafted tea sets that encourage peaceful reflection. You should try to find the balance between aesthetics and functionality. We recommend sets with porcelain teapots as a safe option because they have little to no effect on tea aroma. Clay sets like tokoname-yaki and banko-yaki are more complex and help to enhance umami flavors. Any family of tea enthusiasts will greatly appreciate your thoughtful gift.

2. Artisanal Ceramic Ware for a Touch of Elegance

Craftsman molding the clay into the desired shape on potter's wheel. Close-up picture.

Made from hot clay, artisanal ceramic wares are beautiful, handcrafted pieces that make excellent gifts. It’s not just used for holding food; it serves as a deep reflection of the artisan’s care, patience, and talent. Such a work of art is like food for the soul, and many Japanese people will love the touch of elegance it brings to their homes.

Be sure to buy this gift for housewarming from a small and independent business. This will allow you to find unique ceramic ware. You can decide to get pots, cups, and mugs individually or as a set. What matters is that they are high-quality Japanese ceramic ware, combining functionality with aesthetic beauty. 


3. Japanese Tableware for a Culturally Rich Dining Experience

Japanese traditional ceramic dishes

Moving to a new home can be unsettling for your friends and family members, but you can help them make the transition smoother by adorning their kitchen and dining table with traditional tableware. These tableware sets can include wooden chopsticks, lacquered bowls, and porcelain plates designed with traditional motifs.

You should focus on texture, visual appeal, weight, and durability when selecting the right tableware to buy. Traditional Japanese tableware is lighter and easier to handle than the typical ones. The motifs are mostly illustrations of plants and animals, representing folklore or elements of the four seasons. A Japanese tableware set brings a culturally rich dining experience to the family. They would feel like they were having a meal back home in Japan.


4. Japanese Cooking Sets for Gourmet Home Chefs

Set of Japanese steel kitchen knives, isolated on white background with clipping path

This is another practical gift idea for the kitchen space. A cooking set from Asia is perfect for those who love to explore Japanese cuisine, even if they’re not originally from the country. Some people who live outside of Japan may find it difficult to get authentic Japanese cooking sets with items ranging from a personalized cutting board to pots, spoons, spatulas, pans, and kettles. Save them the trouble by offering cooking sets shipped directly from Japan. You may find some of these in sets or buy them individually. However, getting a set is better because of their harmonious designs and materials. 


5. Indoor Zen Gardens for Stress Relief

Beautiful miniature zen garden, candles and oil lamps near window indoors

Modern life can be stressful, and moving to a new environment would only add to that stress in most cases. Help out by offering an indoor Zen garden to relieve stress. These are also known as indoor Japanese rock gardens. They are 100% natural and offer several benefits, such as enhancing focus and improving inner balance. The mini zen garden is constructed based on the pillars of zen, including shizen (nature), sei-jaku (tranquility), and kanso (simplicity).

Indoor zen gardens mostly consist of several trees and plants held by the soil infill in colored pots. Before buying the garden as a gift, ensure the recipients have enough room for it in their new space. The best plants to use are bonsai, money tree, Japanese maples, azaleas, sedges, ferns, and mosses.


6. Japanese Lanterns for Ambient Lighting


Japanese lanterns placed near the entrance of Japanese style architecture

Paper lanterns are a big deal in Japan, where they’re seen as a symbol of happiness and good fortune. They have been in the country since the 8th century and continue to grace thousands of Japanese households to this day. These lanterns produce soft, ambient lighting, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Although many people use them as decorations at weddings, birthdays, and traditional festivals, your focus should be on getting lanterns for the home. There are three types of Japanese lanterns: hanging lanterns, sky lanterns, and water lanterns. We recommend that you get the hanging lantern, as it’s ideal for general indoor use. Also, there’s a variety of paper lanterns from different countries. The Japanese versions tend to have a special type of writing on them called  chōchin moji.


7. Traditional Japanese Cooking Tools for the Culinary Enthusiast

A man is making Tamagoyaki, Japanese rolled omelette

You should consider the idea of gifting traditional Japanese cooking tools, like a donabe (clay pot) or a tamagoyaki pan. Designed for special cooking techniques and ingredients, these tools make it easier and faster to prepare tasty Japanese dishes and snacks. They are the perfect gift for those who love to cook and experiment with the cuisine. There’s a wide range of options available on the market, including: sushi-making kits, tempura pots, wooden rice bowls, and specialized knives.

If you’re not sure that the recipients know how some of the items work, you can include a related cookbook or only buy tools that come with a detailed manual.


8. Japanese Bath Essentials for a Spa-Like Experience

Rear view of young girl enjoying the hot springs and put a towel on her head while water flows on the background.

In Japan, bathing is considered a cleansing of both the mind and the soul. It should be an experience that is as enjoyable as it is hygienic. That’s why sento bathhouses and onsen (hot spring towns) are so popular in the country. If you’re looking for affordable housewarming gift ideas for couples, you should buy them some Japanese bath essentials. They are a collection of products that will turn your bathroom into a spa overnight. Some of the best products to get are charcoal hand soap, onsen minerals, scented candles, aromatic bath salts, and rice face masks. The gift recipient will love your level of dedication to helping them create a more relaxing environment in their home. 

9. Sensu and Uchiwa Fans for a Breeze of Tradition

Japanese traditional sensu fans in different patterns

Japanese fans are simple yet elegant gifts that function as both cooling tools and decorative pieces. They range from modern fans to antique pieces. The fans are useful for all genders and age groups. If you’re looking to buy authentic Japanese fans as gifts, you should know that there are two main types. The first is sensu, a folding fan used in traditional theater. These have the most beautiful designs and vibrant colors. The other type of fan is called a uchiwa. It’s a rigid fan that enhances the look of traditional robes. Get it if you know the recipient likes to wear kimono, haori, or obi. 


10. Kokeshi Dolls: Handcrafted Symbols of Friendship and Happiness

Japanese wooden kokeshi dolls in Kimono suit

If the new homeowner has kids, you might want to get them something too. Kokeshi dolls are the perfect gifts for that purpose. They are armless and legless wooden dolls that make fun and exciting children’s toys. Also, these dolls represent well-wishes and good fortune. Hence, even if you give kokeshi dolls to adults, they’ll appreciate them just as much as kids because the dolls symbolize friendship, happiness, and the welcoming of good spirits. When choosing the right dolls to buy, ensure they are authentic, handcrafted pieces that reflect the expertise of their maker.


The Art of Selecting the Perfect Housewarming Gift


Home support and social celebration at a housewarming, friends hugging

To select a great housewarming gift from Japan, you need to consider the homeowner’s style and the traditional values of their culture. Your gift should also reflect a high level of thoughtfulness, rather than something you picked up for the sake of it. Random gift baskets won’t cut it! You need something more - and you can find all of the cool ideas in our recommendations of the best housewarming gifts, along with details of their cultural significance.

Visit Bokksu Boutique to get 100% authentic Japanese items for meaningful and memorable gifting. We have everything you need to put a smile on that special person’s face.

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