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Omiyage: A Reflection of Japanese Generosity

Date Published: Food , ,

If you are a tourist here in Japan, you surely have encountered this products in tourist shops, department stores and at the train station. Boxes and boxes of sweet delicacies associated with each place you visit – Omiyage. So what is an Omiyage? Well, most westerners will literally translate it to souvenirs but its a bit different. Souvenirs are mostly bought for once self as a memorabilia for a certain place one has visited – things we collect as memories for trips we went to. Whereas, an omiyage is intended to be given – maybe to your family, friends or workmates. Another difference is that most omiyage, if not all, are edible and is closely associated with the history and locally produced products of that area, souvenirs on the other hand most often are small items such as key chains, magnets or anything small that will serve as a souvenir. The concept of omiyage is not only limited to this but it is also used in business travels as well. Employees always bring omiyage with them when they are on a business trip – a way to make an impression, I guess, or a gesture of goodwill.

Here in Japan after returning from a trip, it is a common practice to give omiyage. Being a foreigner and with shops with a great number of omiyage to choose from, it will really be a bit confusing on what to get. So what are the best omiyage?

Based on my observation, I think the best Omiyage is something edible or something consumable. Which usually reflect the local products the place you visited is famous for. This local delicacies are usually wrapped in nice boxes with items individually packed so giving it to co-workers and/or friends would be very convenient. Another nice omiyage are Fruits. Stores here in Japan even provide services to wrap fruits and send them for you. So when you are planning to travel, it’s also best to research about what that prefecture’s famous omiyage – well besides researching about great places to visit of course. But keep in mind that omiyage does not need to be very expensive. It’s the thought that counts anyway!

So here is a list of Famous Omiyage/Local delicacies from the place I currently live – Okayama.

1. Kibidango – well if your familiar with the story of momotaro then I need not say more but for those don’t here is a blog for you to read.

KibiOpen_s

-Inside the box-
A leaflet and 10 dango individually wrapped in paper and plastic

2. Murasuzume – Kurashiki’s traditional fancy sweets. Made from sweet azuki bean paste wrapped in a spongy pastry made form egg and flour. It can be purchased at Kikko-do.

murasuzume

Murasuzume (Photo by Shiken Hung on Flickr)

3. Yubeshi – traditional sweets of the Bicchu District, using Chinese lemon, have a rich flavor

4. Ochiai Yokan (sweet bean jelly) – Traditional sweets that are loved by the people in Maniwa.

5. Chofu – shaped like a rolled cloth popular for its delicate sweet taste and softness.

6. Fruit Jelly from Fruit Kingdom.

7.  Tomato Jelly – made from whole Momotaro tomato

8. Makigaki (rolled persimmon) made from dried Persimmons that are then tied with a straw.

9. Ohte-manju (sweet bean cake) – has a mild taste from the richness of amazake and the sweetness of bean jam.

 

Read more about Okayama’s popular delicacies and foods here:

http://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/food.html

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