Gifts for Japanese Food Lovers

by sockii

Do you know someone who loves Japanese food? Here you'll find recommended cookbooks, cookware, serving sets and more that would make for great gift items.

Many people love Japanese food for its wonderfully healthy properties, artistic presentations and delicate, delicious flavors. Yet even those who love the cuisine of Japan may be intimidated by the idea of trying to prepare it at home.

However, armed with a few specialty cooking utensils, the right ingredients and a few good cookbooks, Japanese cuisine can be enjoyed in your own kitchen as easily as in a specialized restaurant. If you know someone who is an adventurous home chef and loves Japanese food, there are some wonderful items you can gift them with to get them started exploring new culinary worlds.

This guide presents ten such gift ideas that are perfect for a home chef who wants to enjoy Japanese food beyond restaurant sushi, tempura and teriyaki. There's something for every skill level and experience here, so perhaps you'll find something tempting to add to your own kitchen collection at the same time! These gifts are perfect for any occasion: Christmas, a birthday, or perhaps even as a housewarming present for someone who loves to cook.

All photos on this page are by the author, sockii, unless provided by Amazon, eBay or Zazzle.

1. Cookbooks on Japanese Cuisine

Cookbooks are always great gift items

Of course, what could make for a better gift than a great cookbook all about the cuisine of Japan? These can provide essential information on cooking techniques, recipes to try, and menu-planning guides for preparing authentic Japanese meals at home.

Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art

When it was first published, Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art changed the way the culinary world viewed Japanese cooking, moving it from obscure ethnic food to haute cuisine. Twen...

$45.00  $27.97

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This is the 25th Anniversary edition of one of the now-classic volumes on Japanese cooking and cuisine - from the simple to the complex. It is considered one of the most comprehensive Japanese cookbooks available today with detailed information on techniques, decorative plating, and the culture and traditions of Japanese food.

Sushi: Taste and Techniques

This beautifully illustrated guide will enable readers to master and appreciate the art of sushi. The quintessential book for any sushi lover, Sushi: Taste and Technique shows y...

$20.00  $4.52

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For the serious sushi lover, this book may be the ultimate source of information and inspiration. Author Hiroki Takemura is a legendary sushi chef who here shares his knowledge and helps the home chef learn how to prepare many types of sushi including pressed, scattered, rolled and hand-formed. There is also a wealth of information on sushi bar etiquette, ingredients, and beautiful photography displaying the beauty of sushi in all of its various styles and forms.

Japanese Farm Food

Japanese Farm Food offers a unique look into life on a Japanese farm through 165 simple, clear-flavored recipes along with personal stories and over 350 stunning photographs. It...

$40.00  $19.49

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This award-winning cookbook looks at the traditional food of the Japanese farm: clean flavors, simple meals, seasonal flavors and a style of cooking that will likely be a revelation to anyone who only knows Japanese restaurant cuisine.

Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen

In 1975,Gourmet magazine published a series on traditional Japanese food —the first of its kind in a major American food magazine — written by a graduate of the prestigious Yana...

$40.00  $21.59

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Explore Japanese home cooking in detail with this wonderful cookbook, including over 140 recipes, beautiful photographs and detailed information on building your Japanese pantry. This is not a book on "gourmet" Japanese cuisine but on that of the home chef looking to make easy, comforting, delicious meals.

The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches To Go

Bento fever has recently swept across the West, fuelled not just by an interest in cute, decorative food, but by the desire for an economical, healthy approach to eating in thes...

$19.95  $9.01

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Want to have fun making creative, delicious, Japanese Bento meals? Then this highly-praised book may be your best bet. It includes more than 150 recipes and 25 full bento menus to make "lunch boxes" with a definite Japanese flair and style.

2. Zojirushi Rice Cooker

Made in Japan, and perhaps the "ultimate" in rice cookery?

Maki rollsRice is of course an essential part of Japanese cooking and cuisine whether used in sushi or as a basic side dish. But it can be difficult to master the art of cooking rice perfectly: not too hard, not too mushy, not too wet or dry.

For these reasons, many have turned to using specialized rice cookers in lieu of cooking rice on the stove top. Electric rice cookers today feature advanced technology that cook rice exactly the way you want it every time - and even keep it warm for serving without over cooking it and drying it out!

Zojirushi is a Japanese manufacturer of many consumer electronics for the kitchen - including, of course, rice cookers of many different sizes and special features. For a Japanese food lover, one of their rice cookers would surely make for a great gift that would get plenty of use in the future! Some of their models are spotlighted below:

3. A Sushi Gift Set or Starter Kit

There are many different types to choose from!

Spider roll sushiMention Japanese food and most people will immediately think of sushi. So of course, a great idea for a present would be a sushi "starter kit" which includes the tools and basic ingredients needed to prepare sushi at home. Even if you don't have a regular source for sushi-grade fish in your area, you can still make delicious rolls and nigiri pieces with vegetables, egg, cooked fish and other items. Sushi kits come in a range of prices and contents; I've highlighted a variety of the possibilities here below.

BambooImportsMN 10" Sushi Oke Tub (Hangiri) with 19pc Sushi Making Accessory Pack

The hangiri is the traditional wooden tub used for mixing japanese rice with seasonings to make sushi rice. We have included some rice paddles, rolling mats and dishes so that y...

Only $39.88

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This set is classic and beautiful for gift giving, especially for someone who may be a "purist" for traditional cookware and tools. 13 pieces made from wood and bamboo, including 2 rice paddles, 2 rolling mats, 3 round dishes, 3 square dishes, and 3 Split Bamboo Plates along with a traditional-style Hangiri.

Sushi Chef Sushi Making Kit

Create your own Japanese style sushi at home! This kit contains all the basic ingredients and utensils, as well as a detailed recipe book to allow you to make a variety of delic...

Only $39.95

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The "Sushi Chef" line of ingredients is found in supermarkets almost everywhere today. Here their standard elements for sushi are included in one attractive gift package, along with a cookbook, rolling mat and rice paddle.

Sushi Magic Sushi Making Kit

Now, anyone can make sushi! Sushi Magic is the world's best home sushi maker. This patented express home sushi maker is acclaimed by home users and chefs alike. It's a complete ...

$39.99  $29.95

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This "Sushi Magic" set is unique as it features their own patented roller, which allows you to easily make both regular and "inside out" maki rolls at home more easily than when using a traditional bamboo mat. Their nigiri mold allows you to make professional-looking molded sushi as well, making this a great gift item for the real sushi "novice" (note that other ingredients and tools need to be purchased separately.)

4. A Traditional Cast Iron Shabu Shabu Pot

For making sukiyaki and other delicious one pot meals

"Nabemono" is the term used in Japanese cooking to refer to a number of different soups and stews prepared in a single pot (nabe = "cooking pot" + mono = "thing or things"). One of the traditional vessels used for cooking such meals is a cast iron pot (tetsunabe) which is typically used for sukiyaki. These meals are most commonly enjoyed during the winter months - making a Japanese "hot pot" a great idea for a Christmas gift for the home cooking enthusiast!

Shabu Shabu Pot Sukiyaki Nabe 11in #827-27

Dimension: 11in Dia x 3-1/8in H * Enameled Inner Surface for Easy Cleaning * Serving 4-5 people * 1 Wooden Lid & 1 Wooden Base are Included * * Nabemono (nabe cooking pot + mono...

Only $39.90

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This 11" cast-iron pot features an enameled coating for easy cleanup and to keep food from sticking to the surface during cooking. It also features a wooden base for serving and a wooden lid. A perfect size for preparing meals to feed a family or group of 4-5 people.

Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals

Wholesome, delicious Japanese comfort food, hot pot cooking satisfies the universal desire for steaming, gratifying and hearty meals the whole family can enjoy. In Japanese Hot ...

$25.00  $13.09

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A great companion gift for the above shabu shabu pot, "Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One Pot Meals" introduces this style of cooking to the home chef with 50 authentic recipes. There is a detailed introduction to this style of cooking, the culture of hot pot meals in Japan, and how to find (or substitute) ingredients which might not be commonplace in Western markets and kitchens.

5. Makiyakinabe Cooking Pan

Used for making tamagoyaki omelettes

The Makiyakinabe is the traditional Japanese pan used for cooking thin rolled omelettes, or tamagoyaki. Japanese omelette preparations often are made combining the egg with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and sometimes sake and/or meat and vegetable ingredients. The rectangular shape of the pan makes it easy to create these thin omelettes in a consistent shape for easy rolling, cutting and plating.

Kotobuki Tamagoyaki Japanese Omelette Pan

Tamagoyaki is a rectangular, Japanese rolled omelette that is popular for breakfast, in bento lunch boxes, and as a topping for sushi. This tamagoyaki pan is made of iron with a...

$19.95  $10.72

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Made in Japan, this pan features a nonstick coating over cast iron and a traditional rectangular shape. It's perfect for making traditional tamagoyaki omelette for sushi, bento box lunches, toppings for an egg bowl or just enjoying a fun and different breakfast!

Making Tamagoyaki

A makiyakinabe pan in action

6. Japanese Bento Boxes

Serve bento box-style meals at home...or on the go!

The Bento is basically a "meal in the box" with a long history and culture in Japan. We may be most familiar with the large red-and-black laquered bento boxes often found in restaurants, featuring an assortment of sushi, cooked meat, rice, salad, fruit, and/or pickled vegetables. In Japan, bento boxes may vary from smaller, simple assortments sold in convenience shops to elaborate "lunch boxes" for children featuring rice and other elements shaped to look like animals or anime characters.

Fun and cool bento boxes on eBay

Unique, cute and trendy styles to bid on

NEW Bentology Purple Bento Box Kid Lunchbox Leak Resistant Con...

Time left: 8 hours, 17 minutes
Current bid: $13.99  Place bid
Fixed price: $24.99  Buy It Now

monbento MB Square Bento Box , Green

Time left: 3 weeks
Fixed price: $29.99  Buy It Now

MBSquare Bento Box

Time left: 20 hours, 7 minutes
Current bid: $0.99  Place bid

YUMBOX - Leakproof Bento Lunch Box Container Framboise Pink fo...

Time left: 1 month
Current bid: $28.95  Place bid

How to put together a bento box

Tutorials on YouTube

7. Japanese Vegetable Cutters

Perfect for bento boxes, soups, and party trays!

Eat out in Japanese restaurants and you will often set delightfully-shaped carrots, radishes and cucumbers adorning your plate, or perhaps as elements in your hot pot meal or bento boxes. These are simple to prepare yourself with a set of vegetable cutters in shapes such as bamboo leaves, a bell flower, the cherry blossom, or pine needles.

Kotobuki Set of 6 Small Stainless Vegetable Cutters

Use these stainless steel vegetable cutters to add color and interest to your meal. Choose from 6 different flower and leaf shapes. Use the sharp edge to punch shapes of any one...

$7.50  $6.99

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The items above are just a few of the fun, original and creative ideas you can find on Zazzle featuring sushi and Japanese food themes.

9. A Japanese Dinnerware Set

Beautiful plates and bowls for serving Japanese food in your home

I have always loved Japanese ceramics and dinnerware for their wonderful artistry and color. Any meal served on them immediately takes on a more elegant appearance, and such a dinnerware set would make a wonderful gift for any Japanese food enthusiast. Just take a look at some of the varieties of designs and patterns available, and you might find it hard to resist buying such a set for yourself!

Beautiful, classic set in green and black. Contains 10 pieces for serving: 2 bowls, 2 plates, 2 soup spoons, 2 sauce dishes and 2 pairs of chopsticks. Also comes with a bonus sushi rolling mat.

Why not get a Sake service set to add on to one of these dinnerware collections? They are the perfect companion for serving hot or cold sake along with a sushi or other Japanese dinner.

10. A Japanese Cooking Class

A gift that introduces Japanese cooking with a hands-on approach!

Chirashi sushiFor something really unique and special, why not gift that home chef with a Japanese cooking class? There are many available around the world in many major cities, whether just a one-night special introduction to sushi-making or a multi-day/week course designed to really explore and teach a deeper understanding of Japanese cuisine. Just search online and you'll find many, such as the Long Island New York Japanese Cooking Studio and Sushi by Simon who offers in-home private lessons as well as public classes in the NYC area.

Perhaps one of the most unique is offered in Tokyo itself: Japanese Cooking Class - Cooking with Mari is an English-language class that gets high praise on Tripadvisor. It is held in a Japanese home, not a cooking studio, so you can experience what home cooking is truly like in Japan.

Other Sources for Japanese Food and Gift Items

More retailers to check out online - if you still haven't found what you're looking for!

  • Asian Food Grocer

    Online supplier of everything from Japanese seasonings to Pocky snacks, rice, noodles and kitchenware.

  • Hmart

    Hmart has stores located throughout the United States where you can shop in person. Otherwise, you can order many items for delivery via their website.

  • MarukaiEstore

    Offers many specialty items - even fresh seafood for sushi shipped directly to your door!

  • Mitsuwa Marketplace

    Billing itself as the largest Japanese supermarket in the United States, Mitsuwa has several storefront locations but also offers online shopping and ordering.

Updated: 02/25/2015, sockii
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Digby_Adams on 02/27/2015

My husband loves Japanese food, so I did give him a rice cooker. He still goes out for sushi though!

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