I didn't buy a whole lot of gear due to all the upheaval from the earthquake, but after a lot of careful consideration and then wonderful results from using them, these are the ones that stuck with me:
1) Finetrack Storm Gorge Alpine Pants (http://www.finetrack.com/product/detail_FWM0212.html#)
I used them throughout my two-week volunteer work up in the tsunami devastated zone in Tohoku three weeks after the quake. It was still winter up there, freezing cold, snowing and raining, and in the midst of atrocious and dangerous rubble and debris, with razor sharp metal everywhere. Wearing GoLite C-Thru long underpants underneath I stayed warm and well-protected from abrasion and cuts while working in the disaster fields. They've become my favorite, extremely well-made mountain pants. Even the Israeli rescue team when they saw them went to Tokyo during their break to buy them for their entire team. Only problem with them is that the legs tend to sized for Japanese and are too short for me. I had to sew new hems on to lengthen them. Last month I found that the company had lengthened the pants and I was able to buy another pair that fit me just right. I don't like pants where the crotch hangs too low between the legs so that you have to pull them up higher on your waist (high volume cut), sort of like having a sack of potatoes between your legs. I much prefer a low volume cut, similar to those of jeans, with the rise and gusset clean in the angle of the crotch and the waist relatively low. These fit perfectly like that.
2) Toss up between the MLD Solomid and GoLite Shangri-La 2.
I love the Shangri-La 2 for its wonderful ease of set up and great room (I use half the inside as a sort of side vestibule and storage space), but as so often happens in Japan, I often had a hard time finding a big enough pitching space for it. So I got the Solomid for the typical Japanese small site space. The Solomid is more fiddly to set up, with not nearly as much useable space, but it does what I want a solo shelter to do when space is a premium. A problem I had on all my hikes last year was not being able to get the stakes into the ground anywhere, even in the grassy sites. Free rocks to hold the guy lines down were sometimes, believe it or not, hard to find. Too hard and stony, even for MSR Ground Hogs. I'm thinking of moving back to a "free-standing" dome tent, or maybe something like the upcoming REI Quarter Dome T1. I know I still need to stake it down, but at least I can easily get it to stand up!
3) Mountain Equipment Postman Mini Bag (http://item.rakuten.co.jp/rifflepage2nd/10ss02me/)
I finally found my ideal, UL waterproof photography bag. I carry a DSLR with a single 24 to 300mm zoom lens. This bag carries it perfectly and with lightweight padding and a waterproof outer fabric and zipper protects the camera and extra gear just right. The bag comes with a somewhat heavy shoulder strap and waist strap, which I promptly detached. In their place I attached two lightweight nylon adjustable straps with double plastic clips, taken from my Ortlieb bicycle panniers. I attached them so that when worn they formed an "X" across my back and carried the bag like a harness, slightly above my hip belt. Even when climbing up and down very steep slopes the bag remained securely in place, but was easy to access when standing and easy to remove. I carried the bag through a summer monsoon deluge and the camera remained dry. Took me forever to find something like this, and I think a lot of outdoor and travel photographers (not just UL) would find this piece of gear ideal for their needs