Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Omiyage


{All the omiyage that was purchased in Kyoto.... and mostly eaten by Isabel and I!!}

Omiyage is a Japanese word that means souvenir, or gift. Like most small things, gift giving is an art in Japan. I love how they pay attention to the tiniest details, and how small gifts are so important.

When Japanese people travel around, they always bring back souvenirs for their family, friends, and co-workers. Those souvenirs usually are sweets or delicacies, beautifully wrapped in special gift boxes. Each region in Japan has their own local sweet: for example, if you go to Kyoto you would bring back Yatsuhashi, or the special Kyoto pudding. If you travel to my prefecture, Kagawa, you'd probably purchase some packages of udon, or different types or rice cakes.

Not only is it polite, but also expected to bring back omiyage from your trips. Your Japanese co-workers and friends might get offended if they find out you've been traveling and did not bring anything back. I think the 'rules' are more relaxed for foreigners, but I do enjoy this tradition and happily partake in it.

Omiyage is a huge business in Japan. Every train station has special counters that sell the local souvenirs. I think some major Shinkansen stations also sell omiyage from all parts of Japan just in case you forgot to pick them up on your trip!

Whenever I travel, I make sure to bring back a few boxes of sweets to share: for my close friends in my town, for my colleagues at the staff meeting, for the kind owner of my favourite café, and for special boys who get sweet treats every time I hop over to the mainland.

{I once ripped open a perfectly packaged box of sweets meant as a present because I got hungry on a bus ride!}

9 comments:

{lovely little things} said...

What a fun tradition, it's always so fun to give & receive little gifts from other cities.

French lover said...

Yum yum yum !!

Nicole Marie said...

i love that! and i love that every place has a specific souvenir. i love bringing back things but never know what to get. wish every place in the word had a specific thing you had to get. make it so much easier!

#~凉粉~# said...

it's sound good to be your friends LOL

hildegarde said...

oh my, kitkat heaven!

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Nigel said...

I have mixed feelings. If I actually like the people I work with, omiyagi is a fun way to share a little bit of my holiday.

With that said, omiyagi can also be a bit of a curse - particularly if you work with a lot of people. Buying four boxes of overpriced, individually wrapped cookies to give to people you've never really talked to can be a slightly bitter pill.

I've met quite a few people who keep their vacations top secret specifically so they are not obliged to bring back mountains of omiyagi.

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Arnold said...

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