What to buy at a Japanese drugstore
: the five best souvenirs to bring home
Pick from Japanese beauty staples down
to health supplements and candies

Perhaps you’re still looking for a good souvenir, and don’t just want your average keychain, fridge magnet or other typical touristy goods. For a one-stop solution, look no further than Japanese drugstores. These shrines to cosmetics, sundries and daily essentials may be a bit confusing to navigate at first if you don’t read Japanese, but are actually a great place to find something affordable that will make your friends and family back home (or yourself) happy.

Best of all, if you’ve forgotten to pick something up before getting to the airport, Haneda Airport has enough drugstores for you to still get a little souvenir for everyone. Airport Drug in the 3F departure lobby of the International Terminal has you covered, and otherwise, you’ll find a smaller selection past customs at Books & Drugs, both at the north and south ends of the terminal. Beyond the airport, drugstore chains include Matsumoto Kiyoshi, Tomod’s and Welcia.

Here are our five top buys from a Japanese drugstore. (Note not all items may be available at every store.)
Face masks
A quick and simple way to take care of your skin, many Japanese women and men swear by a regular face sheet mask. A fun souvenir option is the Oedo Art Mask series, produced by Pure Smile. This set has masks with traditional Japanese characters printed on them, such as a samurai, a princess or even a courtesan. Other printed mask options include a daruma, cats, dogs, and other animals.
If you’re more serious about your beauty routine or prefer a simple sheet mask, some of the most popular ones in Japan are Keana Nadeshiko’s Rice Mask, anything in the LuLuLun series, and masks made by big brands Kracie or Kose, with different options per skin type.
Heated eye masks
Perfect for a longhaul flight, these eye masks come with a light steaming component, giving your eyes a much-needed break. Officially called Kao MegRhythm Steam Hot Eye Mask, they’re supposed to help with fatigued or dry eyes, as well as bags and dark circles beneath your eyes, screen fatigue, and possibly insomnia.
The mask will auto-heat as soon as you’ve opened the pack, so all you need to do is to pop one on for 10 minutes to relieve tension and fatigue. It works a charm pre-bedtime as well. They come in several different fragrances, from unscented (simple red box) to lavender-sage (purple box), and rarer options including chamomile-ginger, yuzu, and rose.
Lotion
Part of a “standard” Japanese beauty routine, a lotion refers to a toner-like substance, meant to keep or add moisture in your skin. Most Japanese cosmetics brands have their signature version, but certain brands stand out. Kikumasamune, a sake brewery, has a line of skincare as well, and their Kikumasamune Sake Skin Care Lotion consistently ranks high on beauty blogs for its bang-for-buck and quality. Other drugstore favourites include cult classic Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Acid Lotion, Nameraka Honpo Soy Milk Lotion, and Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner.
Only-in-Japan candies
Besides cosmetics, most Japanese drugstores stock a selection of candies or sweets with only-in-Japan flavours. If you haven’t grabbed a bag of matcha-flavoured KitKats yet, this is the place to do so, and at bargain prices too. They might also just have the latest seasonal flavour, such as chocolate-mint in summer or sweet potatoes in autumn, in larger value packs than you can often get at souvenir shops.

Other sweets include the ever-popular Pocky sticks, thin pretzel-like sticks covered in chocolate or other flavours. If you’re a chocolate-lover, then keep an eye out for Glico’s Almond Peak or Meiji’s Macadamia, both of which are often best-sellers. Finally, those looking for a savoury snack can turn to the trusty Calbee Jagarico Salad flavour, a Cheetos-like crisp which is a hit with all ages.
Hangover cures
For your party-hardy friends, Japan has a range of drinks that promise to help with your hangover. One of the most well-known is called Ukon no Chikara, or the “power of turmeric”. Drinking this turmeric-based drink before you go out is said to prevent, or at least reduce, a hangover. It’s a popular drink with office workers before going out to a company drinking party.
Another option is Hepalyse GX, which is a mix of beef liver extract and turmeric, and works the same way as Ukon no Chikara. If all else fails, or you simply have heatstroke, there’s always plenty of rehydration salts and candies to choose from to boost your electrolytes. Try Enbun Charge (塩分チャージ) tablets, or In Enbun Plus (in塩分プラス).
All in all, enough things to buy to add another few pounds to your luggage. Now all you need to do is not forget to check in your liquids…