In your country, do you buy local products as souvenirs when you travel?
In Japan, there is a culture of distributing souvenirs bought at travel places to acquaintances, friends, and people at work.
I will introduce the origins of Japanese souvenir culture and the meanings of kanji characters.
What does omiyage mean?How to write in Kanji?
Omiyage is a literal translation of the word souvenir.
If written in Kanji, it is “お土産”.
土 means the place. 産 means to be born.
Also, お is a word used to mean something that is given to the other person.
In other words, to explain Omiyage in a little more detail, it is a “souvenir born in the place” and is intended to be given to someone.
*Sometimes it is read as Miyage without the O.
Today, we generally use the term “souvenirs” to mean “souvenirs that you buy to give away to someone when you go on a trip.
Where did Omiyage culture originate?
After doing some research on Omiyage, I learned that its origin is deeply related to worship at temples and shrines.
In the past, when people visited shrines and temples, they would bring back items given to them by the shrine as evidence to report to their families when they returned home.
As the number of visitors to the shrine increased, teahouses near the shrine gradually began to sell sweets as a sign of their visit to the shrine.
Gradually, these confections became known as “specialties”.
Indeed, come to think of it, there are many places around famous Japanese shrines and temples that sell specialty sweets!
For example, the Ise Jingu Shrine.
Ise City in Mie Prefecture, where the Ise Jingu Shrine is located, is famous for a Japanese confectionery called Akafuku.
Another confection called “Umegae mochi” is sold near Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine in Fukuoka Prefecture.
Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture, where Itsukushima Shrine is located, is famous for Omiyage, a Japanese sweet called momiji manju.
Japanese Recommendation Omiyage
I introduced two Japanese sweets as Omiyage earlier, but in modern times, Omiyage means anything “bought in the area,” including not only food but also sundries, tableware, decorations, and so on.
Now, I’ll show you some of the Omiyages I’ve bought that have made my recipients especially happy!
Unagi pai is a crispy pie crust pastry.
Unagi means eel.It is said to contain eel extract, but don’t worry, it doesn’t actually taste like eel at all.
The buttery flavor mixed with the perfect amount of sugar sweetness–so good!
I have the impression that Unagi pie is sold everywhere I go in Shizuoka Prefecture. They are a popular snack because they are easy to buy, can be distributed to many people, and have a long shelf life.
Soni Kogen Beer(NARA)
When it comes to local flavors, you can’t go wrong with a local beer!
This was a souvenir I bought when I went to Nara and gave it to my family, who liked it very much.
Soni Plateau is a place rich in nature, where the scenery of silver grass in autumn is very beautiful.
The water is good, which is probably why the beer tastes so good.
Sake from Shodoshima “When Olive Fruits Grow on Shodoshima…”(KAGAWA)
SAKE, like craft beer, is a local delicacy.
Because of the local rice, water, and artisans who make them, the flavors vary greatly from region to region.
I bought this sake on my last trip to Shodoshima and it was really good.
It was a little bit like white wine, sweet and perfect with nuts, dried fruits and cheese.
Ceramic artworks also vary in color, pattern, and technique depending on the region.
Kutani ware from Ishikawa Prefecture is characterized by five powerful colors.
The bold and bold design makes it very glamorous when placed on the dining table.
I bought Omiyage a teapot, a cup and a soy sauce container.
In addition to these, there are many other Omiyage in Japan.
Please try to find Omiyage made in the places you visit!