Omiyage (Japanese souvenirs)

One of the really interesting things about Japanese customs is the obligation to give people "souvenirs" (omiyage).

When I imagined souvenirs (before I came to Japan), I imagined tacky tee-shirts, stuffed animals and other cheap goodies found at airport souvenir stores when returning from long trips abroad.

In Japan, the concept is VERY different. From the shortest domestic business trip to the honeymoons in Hawaii, to the short weekend getaways, Japanese people bring "souvenirs" back to their families, friends, coworkers and anyone else who may ask "How was your trip?".

Gift-giving is something of an art in Japan, where a gift, omiyage in Japanese, successfully given honors the recipient, starting with the quality of the presentation. Gifts are traditionally carried in beautiful printed squares of fabric called furoshiki. ... As with the high-tech goods for which Japan has become renowned, quality and attention to detail are hallmarks of a well-chosen omiyage.

The types of souvenirs I have received include jewellry, bags, cell-phone straps, key rings, hand towels, cosmetics, alcohol, but mostly food. Souvenir shops around Japan stock the most incredible selection of food from the local regions (impeccably presented and wonderfully delicious!).

Today I ate some "souvenirs" brought to school by one of the parents who took a domestic trip last weekend.

Made by a company called
Yokumoku, these small snacks and biscuits are presented in a gorgeous tin and each individually wrapped ... yum!

A small tin of assorted Yokumoku cookies costs around 2,500yen (or about US$25)! So giving "souvenirs" to all the people mentioned before is a costly mission!


  1. Wow! Those look so delicious~ But I was surprised by how much they are!


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