I am Edward Grinewich-Yonashiro, hitherto Japan Correspondent for Travel Secrets magazine. I now live in San Francisco, California. You can reach me here.

My secret features my favourite gifts from the cities of Kyoto, Tokyo, Nara. This is what I would buy:

(炭・Sumi) Charcoal Bath and Beauty Products –

Charcoal, “sumi” in Japanese, has been used for centuries in Japan to purify water. Modern Japanese companies have expanded the use charcoal into a variety of bath and beauty products. Jet-black face washes, pitch-black body soaps, and inky bath salts are popular and trendy among both men and women in Japan. Adding a charcoal product to a current beauty regimen will be a great way to share your Japanese experience with a friend or revisit the trip for yourself.


My Secret: The “Black Paint” store (http://blackpaint.jp/) in Kyoto, Japan (700 meters from exit one of the Marutamachi Kyoto Subway Station) is well known for their quality charcoal based beauty products.  A 60g block of their premium Black Paint Charcoal Face Wash sells for 2,700 yen (Rs 1,646 ). The traditional Japanese floral print on the block wrapped in a contrasting white packaging makes the purchase ready to hand-off to a friend or loved one. A great souvenir to enjoy on your own after returning home from a long trip or to give to a friend who will need some relaxation.

I’ve shared many more gift secrets in the March-April 2016 issue of Travel Secrets. Don’t miss them!