Time for a little gift guide of sorts… this one is stuffed full of all of my favorite things. The items I tell my friends about. The products that I’ve found this year that I won’t be giving up anytime soon. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a favorite things post this year because so many of my favorites are really only available in Japan but I did come up with a nice list of favorites that you can find on the inter webs so, why not! These are all items that I’ve purchased this year and continue to love. All of them are things I truly love, things that make my life easier, or just generally great products that I enjoy! Let’s get into it shall we?
All My 2023 Favorite Things
Uniqlo Round Mini Shoulder Bag
Gosh, I love this bag. I was really happy to find it online for you all. Uniqlo is a very popular clothing store in Japan – we have them everywhere. The prices are very reasonable and the clothing is great quality. The funny store about how I ended up purchasing this bag is short but distressing. I left my whole purse with my wallet and all inside my parked car when we were traveling from Okinawa to mainland Japan. I didn’t realize I didn’t have my bag until we were through security but I had my passport so I was pretty much good. Once we arrived in Fukuoka I headed straight to Uniqlo and grabbed this bag. It comes in a variety of colors. The size is what I appreciate most. It’s small enough that things don’t get lost in it. It’s the perfect size for a wallet, phone, keys, sunscreen, and any other little bits you might need. It’s especially great for travel!
Banila Zero Cleansing Balm
It was only a year or two ago that I started using cleansing balms. I’m a simple girly so a bunch of steps in a skincare routine aren’t really for me but I do appreciate this two-step face cleansing method. I use this melting cleansing balm first, then a gentle foaming cleanser second. I felt like the foaming cleanser still left some gunk on my face but since using the cleansing balm first, my face feels squeaky clean. This Zero cleansing balm is super popular in Asia. I picked it up in Korea but I’ve seen it around Japan as well. It’s also available online and at beauty retailers like Sephora.
I LOVE Pura diffusers. I now have four in my home. One downstairs, one in our bedroom, and one in each of the girls’ bedrooms. I’ve always been really sensitive to smells. Some perfumes give me headaches. Typical air fresheners make me nausea and even though I love them, candles make my eyes burn. Pura does none of that to me and all the scents are beyond good. My favorite scent is the Becki Owens Coconut Calm followed up closely by Havana Vanilla. I recently purchased the car diffuser as well and will report back on my thoughts on it later. If you’re interested in a more thorough review, I’ve shared all of my thoughts on Pura here.
These pretty jammies are my favorite. I love to lounge in pants but I feel more comfortable sleeping in shorts or sleep dresses. I don’t like way the pant legs bunch up. These are really soft and cozy. They also are available in a bunch of colors this soft green with pink piping is super cute.
My new favorite mascara! A little background: For years I was hooked on this mascara but since moving to Japan, I’ve definitely changed my makeup routine. I just love strolling the makeup aisles here and trying new things. Fasio is a line of makeup by the Japanese makeup brand, Kose This mascara is almost the complete opposite to what I used to wear. My old mascara looked great but definitely felt heavy. The Fasio mascara is super light, doesn’t clump, and it just lengthens your lashes while looking very natural. If you are interested in Asian beauty and want to try something new, I can highly recommend this product.
Flip Straw 30 oz Stanley
I’ve been a Stanley girly for a year or so now. I started with the 40 oz tumbler but at the beginning of the year I swapped my giant mug of a water bottle for this flip straw water bottle that has a top handle. I actually purchased two thinking we would use them for our island travels but I never leave home without mine.
Nike Gamma Force Sneakers
Japan is turning me into a sneaker head for sure. Sneakers are much less expensive here than in the states but more than anything they have such cute designs! I found these Gamma Force sneakers in a local shop and bought them immediately. They are now the first sneakers I grab. They’re perfect for running errands.
Lights Lacquered Nail Polish
At the beginning of the year, a bunch of nail polish girlies on Instagram started talking about Lights Lacquered and I had to try them. LL has SO many gorgeous shades. If you like to paint your own nails or you just like trying new polish colors you have got to check out Lights Lacquered.
Laneige Sleep Lip Mask
Laneige is pretty well known at this point for this sleep lip mask so I’ll just lend my voice to the crowd. I love it. We have a dehumidifier in our room and I used to wake up with really dry lips. Now, I just put a super small amount on before bed and it keeps my lips soft and keeps them from getting dry. It comes in a bunch of scents but I love the vanilla one.
The Perfect Loaf
I try to buy a handful of cookbooks per year to add to my collection. When Maurizio announced that he would be publishing a book on sourdough bread I pre-ordered The Perfect Loaf immediately. I love baking sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls. I have loved trying new sourdough recipes, like focaccia and different loaves of bread.
A Rice Cooker
Do you even live in Japan without a rice cooker? I should share a video with my experience of buying a rice cooker because it was overwhelming to say the least. When I walked into the small appliances section I found at least four dozen rice cooker options with price tags that made me gasp. After leaving the store empty handed I hopped on Amazon and found a budget-friendly rice cooker and it’s been a great addition to my kitchen. We use this rice cooker about 4 times a week.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
I have loved reading since the beginning of the pandemic and I usually have several books that I’m reading at once. I’m usually listening to one on Audible, reading a paper book, and reading a digital book via Kindle Unlimited on my phone. I grabbed this Paperwhite when it was on sale a couple of months ago and it’s been such a game changer for me. I find myself reading so much faster than when I had to read on my phone. It’s very slim and light so it just slides right into my bag and it’s easy to carry it around so I’m ready to read whenever.
I bought this cosmetic bag on a whim because it seemed like a great size. I ended up going back and buying two more, one for each of the girls, so they have something to put their toiletries in while traveling. For the price, I’m really impressed with the quality and size of these bags. Bonus points for all of the cute prints they offer.
Plush Wristbands for Face Washing
I have no idea what the correct product name is for these wristbands but they are a game changer. The girls are getting really into “skin care” and they both bought these at a local store with their allowance and I loved the concept so much I bought some of my own. They are great if you hate the water running down your arm when you are washing your face. These catch the water and they are super soft on your skin.