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Omiyage from Japan

Omiyage: Japan’s Unique Souvenir-Giving Culture

By Thai Ngo Apr 20, 2023

After travelling to other localities or abroad, we often bring the specialities to gift to people we love. In Japan, it is viewed as a way to show respect and love and strengthen ties among members of the community. This gift-giving culture is called Omiyage (お土産), where the word 土 stands for “local” and 産 for “origin”.

Origin and Meaning of the Omiyage Culture

Omiyage at Japanese Shrine

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Centuries ago, the Japanese used to go to places of worship to pray for health and safety, called Shinto shrines. They have become a typical cultural image of this country, along with Mount Fuji and Torii gates. However, while everyone wishes to visit the shrines, only a few can afford to do so. As a result, when people return from pilgrimages, they bring religious gifts and distribute them to anyone in need. This increases the demand for these items, particularly in tourist areas, creating a culture of Omiyage gift-giving.

Over many years of development and adaptation, the concept of Omiyage gradually became the act of buying gifts from places when travelling, usually small and beautiful presents, for friends, colleagues, and relatives. For relatives, Omiyage is for emotional connection in the family and showing mutual care. For friends, these gifts show that you are still keeping a close friendship with them. For colleagues, Omiyage is a way to thank them for their hard work while you are on vacation.

What Omiyage Should I Buy From Japan?

Omiyage at Souvernir shop

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Everyone enjoys receiving gifts, especially from a country as culturally rich as Japan. If you are unsure what to give your family members when visiting Japan, our list below will give you an excellent general view of Japanese Omiyage.

Hokkaido Region

Omiyage from Hokkaido Region

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Sapporo Times Square custard cake: This cake is named after their birthplace, Sapporo. With its compact size, eye-catching packaging, and sweet filling, this is the perfect Omiyage choice for your loved ones.

Rishiri Shochu: Rishiri, an alcoholic drink made from kelp with a mild and spicy aroma, is only available in Hokkaido. It has a strong sea flavour, typical of the local specialities. A typical dad would love to put a bottle of Rishiri in his collection.

Hakodate Kogane: Shredded dried squid is a popular snack in Japan. The squid is unique because it was caught in the waters of Hokkaido, Japan’s most famous seafood region. This would make an excellent side dish for drinking parties.

Kanto Region

Omiyage from Kanto Region

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Since Tokyo is a large and modern city, souvenir shops can be found almost anywhere. The Don Quijote grocery chain of stores that sells thousands of products at very competitive prices is the best place to buy Omiyage.

KitKat: Nestle’s KitKat wafer bar has long been recognised as a unique Japanese gift everyone adores. It’s creamy but not overpowering chocolate cover, combined with the crunchy, flavorful wafer inside, makes them ideal for visitors of all ages or tea party snacking. Nestle has produced over 300 different flavours for the Japanese market and sold them individually in other cities, making purchasing this treat, to some people, a habit of collecting rather than simply enjoying. You should look for unique KitKat flavours everywhere you visit because they will become unique souvenirs.

Merchandise from Tokyo Disney: Aside from Mount Fuji, the Tokyo area is well-known for its bustling Disney amusement park. After a trip to Tokyo Disney with the family, you can go to the local stores and buy small toys for the kids. Every child’s dream is to have a toy of their favourite cartoon character.

Kansai Region

Omiyage from Kansai Region

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Kyoto green tea: Kyoto is Japan’s ancient capital and a tea-loving city. All four popular Japanese teas (matcha, gyokuro, sencha, and bancha) are available here. Most tea shops are hundreds of years old, so the quality of the products is unquestionable. If you can visit Kyoto, purchase a few tea bags to give to your loved ones, particularly older people. Although the tea from Kyoto is quite pricey, the recipient will undoubtedly be pleased with its quality.

Universal Studio Japan and Osaka Aquarium are two popular attractions in Osaka where you can visit and purchase lovely Omiyage. Universal Pictures is a famous studio for classic movies like Spiderman, Jurassic Park, Despicable Me, etc. The merchandise you purchase at this location will be very valuable to fans of those films. However, asking your friends and family’s preferences before buying would be best.

Omiyage: Small but Meaningful Gifts

Did you learn about any new Omiyage in this article? Surely everyone will be grateful when you return from Japan with delicious delicacies and fancy gifts! Remember to tell your family about the Omiyage gift-giving tradition. It will be highly beneficial in improving their relationships with those around them.

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