In Japan, it is customary to buy gifts for your colleagues, friends and family when you travel. Whether you are going to another city or another country, omiyage is an expected part of travel. Usually, the gift is some sort of specialty from the area you visited (known as meibutsu), either a little souvenir or a snack made in the area. For example, when I used to work for a Japanese company, whenever someone would go to Canada, he or she would come back with little maple syrup candies for the office to share. (Sigh, I miss traveling to Canada…)
Omiyage is a big business in Japan. Everywhere you go, there are beautifully wrapped packages of sweets and snacks. We picked up the snacks shown above purely because they were wrapped so beautifully. (They were delicious, too!) I have to believe that the omiyage expectations keep Japan’s economy going…
As a foreigner, it is especially fun to pick out omiyage. There are so many fun things to buy in Japan that we don’t have in the states. I bought a lot of washi tapes, stationery and handkerchiefs for friends. (And KitKats…which deserve their own JDIB post for sure.) The best part is, most stores will gift wrap just about anything. I bought a couple of these cutie cat handkerchiefs it Mitsukoshi and the sales clerk brought out an array of colored envelopes and gift stickers for me to choose from. She even pointed out that there is a tiny window in the back of the gift envelope so I could see which handkerchief was packaged inside. That way I could make sure I gave the right gift to the right person. Clever! I usually enjoy wrapping gifts myself, but I loved that a store would take the time to care for my tiny, inexpensive gift.
Omiyage and gift-wrapping small treasures…another simple reason Japan Does It Better!
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