Gift giving plays a very important role in shaping Japanese culture, making it probably the country whose people are most interested in giving souvenirs. If you have ever worked and lived in Japan for a while, you must have received a lot of souvenirs from people around almost every week/ day in the office! One of the gift giving terms in Japanese is Omiyage お土産.
Japan is a big country with sub-tropical weather on the south most areas such as Okinawa 沖縄to semi-arctic weather in the far north such as Hokkaido北海道. Due to the large discrepancy in geographical features and weather, it means that seasonal food and featured items can vary widely in different places in Japan. It creates a golden opportunity for Japanese companies to make profits!
Omiyageお土産is the kind of souvenir that you would buy for your family, friends, and co-workers when you visit another place, say, you have a trip from Osaka大阪to Tokyo東京, or even as close as from Osaka大阪to Nagoya名古屋. The souvenir is usually available or seasonal only in that particular region and it is usually food or drink, something edible anyway.
I was in Utsunomiya 宇都宮yesterday for a meeting, which is about 50 mins away from Tokyo東京 by Shinkansen新幹線 – the Japanese bullet train. What is famous there? Dumpling 餃子! You will see heaps of restaurants selling dumplings as soon as you step out of the train station.
Don’t forget to get some for your buddies when you visit Utsunomiya 宇都宮next time! They are just so….yummy!