Omiyage: souvenirs. Typically, this means food-related “souvenirs” of a recent journey, away from the family, coworkers, social club… seriously though, for every trip I take away from Okinawa, I have to budget quite a bit of yen for omiyage. That being said, when others return, I get to try a variety of little nibbles from all over. Yeah, omiyage is serious business. Do not return from a trip without some.
Especially after holidays, these show up in abundance. Social custom dictates that you eat whatever it is that your colleagues, friends, family, or whoever bought. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Below are only some of the types of omiyage I have received– there are many kinds out there.
Sakura pie cookie. Shaped like a cherry blossom petal, flaky biscuit sprinkled with sakura sugar. WIN!
Konbu (seaweed) candy from Hokkaido. Um, yeah. Not bad per se… but LOSE. Sometimes I wonder if my colleagues are just playing pranks on me (“hmm, what can we get the gaijin to eat next??”).
Almond chocolate sandwich cookie and matcha/azuki bean biscuit. WIN.
White bean paste and matcha bean paste cakes. WIN.
Sable cookie shaped like Dove… meh. Not a win, but not a lose.
Famous Amaou Strawberry roll. WIN!
Hokkaido rare cheese: win.
Awa cookie: not a win, not a loss. It is pretty though.
Buttery crispy sandwich cookie. Win.
Not pictured: Ebi (shrimp) “cracker” and Mentaiko (fish roe) “cracker” (Japanese: senbei せんべい). I get more of these type of senbei than I care for; I am not really a fan of these fishy crackers, but they are cheap so I think I lot of people buy these to bring back.
Obviously there are many, many more not shown… I only recently started snapping a picture so I could remember some of my favorites (and least favorites). All of these were picked out by Japanese and Okinawan friends/colleagues.
Oh, and if you every need to bring back omiyage from Tokyo, I suggest picking up the famous “Tokyo Banana” (sold in the airport!). Honestly, I think they are gross, but Japanese people love them! I cannot explain it. Out of all the omiyage I have brought back to my lab colleagues, those are gone in seconds. Chocolates of almost any variety are almost universally disliked or at best vaguely tolerated (okay, I also work with ALL males, I am sure this is different if you have females). Otherwise, omiyage selection is still a bit of a mystery to me, no matter how often I buy it.
If you want to see what sort of omiyage to pick up while in Okinawa, visit this next post: Okinawa Omiyage: お土産.