I know I said I would be finishing up my front porch refresh series this week, but I lied. After installing the new light fixture, I realized it wasn’t right for the space. I returned it and ordered a beautiful new one that should be here this week.
In the meantime, today I’ll be sharing with you some tips for finding and displaying the perfect travel souvenir. Travelling is one of our passions, and our home is full of all sorts of beautiful things from five different continents (we’ll get to you someday, Australia and Antarctica!) Of all those places, Japan is hands-down my favorite country to visit. We’ve been there twice now, most recently this past summer with our six-year-old son.
Our first trip to Japan was the beginning of a big four-country tour of Asia, so we tried to keep the souvenir shopping to a minimum. If you don’t have a lot of space in your suitcase but want to bring home a little piece of Japan, a beautiful fan is the best way to go. There are so many to choose from, from brightly colored ones to the more simple and elegant. We picked up this hand-drawn fan outside a shrine in Kyoto, and it now resides in our master bedroom.
The second time around, we stayed in Japan for much longer, so we brought along an ultra-compact foldable duffle bag (Amazon affiliate link) to stow souvenirs as we bought them. Somehow, a lot of space was taken up by Pokemon stuffed animals, toys, cards, t-shirts and school supplies (did I mention we took our son?), but I managed to save some space for a few travel souvenirs.
I’m always on the lookout for a piece that will trigger a memory of our trip. For example, we visited the amazing Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto that featured thousands upon thousands of torii gates along a path all the way to the top of Mount Inari. Obviously, it’s the perfect place to practice ninja moves.
My son and I wilted in the 90 degree heat about halfway up (yes, we’re hot weather wimps), but my husband made it all the way to the summit! To commemorate the occasion, I picked up this miniature version of those bright orange gates to display on our basement shelves. It gives a great pop of color to the room, and contrasts nicely with the Hammer of Thor (yes, that is an Amazon affiliate link to the Hammer of Thor. You know you want one.)
Sometimes the best souvenirs aren’t in your typical tourist shop. Our hotel in Tokyo was across the street from the most amazing DIY store called Tokyu Hands. It’s an 8-story hardware/craft/decor paradise! I found some woodworking chisels for my dad on the hardware floor, washi tape on the crafts floor, and these “Star Wars in Japan” themed wall hangings called tenugui in their decor section. What could be more perfect for a geeky media room than wall hangings of R2D2 serving green tea to Yoda in a zen temple, or Darth Vader at Mount Fuji?
Finally, you may have noticed this last item when I reviewed our new Edison bulb lamp. I found a wonderful souvenir shop in Harajuku that had an entire floor of Japanese antiques. I wanted to buy everything, but shoji screens and lacquer furniture wouldn’t fit in our suitcase. I discovered a pile of old hand-bound books, and I knew one of them was coming home with me. I picked this one because it’s really thick and chunky, and the handmade paper is so dense that it stands on its own. I have no idea what it says, but I’m hoping it’s not something boring like an accounting ledger or grocery list!
Every trip we take is another opportunity for more fantastic souvenirs. You never know where you’re going to find the perfect piece for that empty spot on your shelves or dresser. I love to have a story behind each item we display. It truly makes our house feel like our home. What are some of your favorite souvenirs?