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Omiyage anyone?

Iron Chef

Rest in Peace
26 Feb 2003
I'm curious what everyone's thoughts on omiyage (souvenirs) are and what some of their fav gifts (either received or given) in the past have been. I've always found I've enjoyed shopping for "just the right thing" in order to give family and friends whether i'm returning to the U.S. or en route back to Japan after heading home for the holidays.

For my mother (who is an avid collector of dolls from around the world) I would always bring her back one or two kokeshi ningyo (a type of hand-carved wooden doll) that were always different from any previous ones I had given her. Small and relatively lightweight (not all the time though), these were the perfect gift for her and she always seemed to enjoy displaying them.

For my friends in Japan it was a little harder to discern what their interests were so I usually ended up giving anywhere from unique food products to coffee books to even articles of clothing depending on where I was coming from. I once gave a sharktooth/alligator skin necklace I bought from a Seminole vendor in Key Largo, FL to the girl I was casually dating at the time. Granted, not the most romantic gift--nevertheless I thought it was cool (*shrugs*). I redeemed myself the next time as I had a friend who worked at Neiman Marcus help me pick out a really nice silk blouse to give. Cost me a bit more than I wanted to spend on an omiyagi (*cough*) but oh well... 8-p

For my students I would usually end up buying a shoebox full of keychains, sticker sheets, candies, etc. etc. that I would dispense to my favorite little troublemakers each and every time I returned from visiting the U.S.

When some dear friends of mine came from Sapporo to visit me the following summer after I had left Japan, they literally brought me a small wooden crate that contained some of the most expensive canned tarabagani (king crab) and suwaigani (snow crab) available from Hokkaido . Knowing my penchant for seafood, I thought this was an ideal gift on their part and needless to say we used some $200 of it up making various dishes during their stay so I guess you could say they benefitted as well, heh. :cool:

I've also found small personal music boxes to be a great gift (for both sides) and I remember giving a particularly expensive but really nice one with an Iruka (dolphin) motif I purchased in Otaru from their Orgel (music box) Emporium for my sister-in-law back home. Needless to say, she loved it. On my return trip I bought a matching pair of Mickey and Minnie Mouse music boxes from Orlando's Disneyworld for my two best friends (a young married couple and the same ones who brought me the aforementioned crab) and they really enjoyed that as well.

I cold go on and on, but i'd much rather hear all of your thoughts on the subject. :cool:
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My favs: food, sake and an old Japanese version of Photoshop. :D
Well, I've never travelled anywhere to give omiyage, but people that have visited me brought amazing gifts!! My favorite gifts would have to be a good luck charm (mask) that's a key chain, a statuette of a Japanese helmet, Jpop CD's and last but not least these supper yummy little chickadee cookies.

It sounds like you have a good knack for finding the interesting things to give as omiyagi. It's amazing the simple things we take for granted that someone else has never seen or enjoyed. When I send things to my friends in Japan, I always think of that. What do we have that they wouldn't... It has worked for me so far!! 🙂:
I just thought I would post a photo of the cookies I was talking about. If anyone can tell me more info on them I would appreciate it.



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Aahh! I remember seeing those somewhere and thought they were very cute. :cool: That's a great little gift idea indeed (great packaging too btw). Unfortunately, I can't provide you with any more info although i'd be interested as well, heh.
I just thought I would post a photo of the cookies I was talking about. If anyone can tell me more info on them I would appreciate it.

It looks like the okashi pictured at お菓子の動植物園-鳥 is what you're talking about. If so, it says:

Left: Big Chick
Right: Chick
Place of Origin: Fukuoka Prefecture
To the left is a big chick. I've never seen it in other regions so I was surprised when I found it at Hakata Station. They are sold individually. One person can't eat all of it. It tastes exactly the same as the regular sized chick.

And another page at homepage1.nifty.com/sukabura/book4cake.htm

I'll leave the translation as an exercise. 🙂:
Personally, the omiyage (not omiyagi) tradition has its good points and bad points. The good points is it is interesting to receive things that are from different regions of Japan or the world, and when it is given voluntarily, and not because they feel it is an obligation to do so.....
The bad side is when this tradition is forced upon you by co-workers or friends, and you have to strain your brain in trying to find something that is not considered "cheap" from relations that expect something good.
Another bad side is having to take bloody Japanese tourists on shopping tours, and you have to hang around the bloody malls waiting for them to finish their shopping, when you could actually be taking them around to really see things that are of interest, and what the main reason they should be visiting the place in the first place....
There is nothing I despise more (ok, there are exceptions) than waiting for people to finish their shopping....I suppose it's a guy thing, but carrying shopping bags for other people on things that you have no interest in, and listening to them rant about how cheap things are compared to in Japan, and watching tourists spending their entire time shopping for other people rather than enjoying the time (limited as it is) for themselves--the main reason I thought people took vacations for, is an aspect of J-society that I never agreed with...especially when I hear them whine about having such a hard time finding the right omiyage for somebody.....

but that's my take on it....the same with the white day/valentines day choco exchange nonsense......
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