Omiyage (御土産 or お土産) are Japanese souvenir gifts travellers bring from their trips. Almost every destination in Japan specialises in food, traditional art, crafts, etc. The omiyage industry built around gift-giving is vast and very lucrative. Japanese feel a strong obligation to bring such items as gifts for family members and relatives, neighbours, friends, and colleagues at work, school or university. Giving miyage is based on strict reciprocality: if one has received a gift in the past, one must return a gift of similar quality or value. Also, when leaving for an extended trip, one often gets a farewell gift (餞別 senbetsu) from friends or relatives. Of course, the traveller is supposed to reciprocate with omiyage in return.


This custom and obligation explain why many Japanese tourists abroad appear to be busy buying souvenirs, sometimes even sacrificing their short time dedicated to sightseeing. Due to its obligatory nature, buying omiyage often becomes a stressful burden, but such mutual obligations form the core of solidarity and cooperation in Japanese society.

Temiyage (手土産), on the other hand, are gifts one takes when visiting friends or relatives. Temiyage usually consists of sweets, fruits, or other nonstaple foods. Whereas one makes a call precisely to deliver omiyage, temiyage are given incidentally at most social calls.

Popular gifts for Japanese from visitors abroad include:
  • Sweets, the more "foreign" and famous the brand, the better; for ladies and children. Not recommended: liquorice and marzipan.
  • Alcoholic beverages for gentlemen, wine or a good bottle of spirits.
  • Herbal tea and fruit tea for the ladies.
It is essential to state that the gift wrapping and the bag are almost as necessary as the gift itself.
  • Like
Reactions: Majd