Japanese gifts and souvenirs (omiyage)

Omiyage is translated as “souvenir” in English. In Japan, it is a common practice to buy Omiyage for your friends, family members and colleagues whenever you travel. Gift giving is a commonly practiced social norm, and even if you dislike your colleagues, you are expected to bring “Omiyage” for them. My friend once told me that she didn’t want to let her coworkers know about her trip to Hawaii because she wanted to enjoy her vacation without worrying about Omiyage.

Omiyage is usually small, and it doesn’t have to be pricey. Food is more appropriate especially for coworkers, because it doesn’t take up too much space and it is usually consumed pretty quickly.The most important thing is to bring Omiyage home as a courtesy. For friends and close family members, it is easier to choose more specific Omiyage such as key holders, T-shirts based on their preference. But it is not very common to do that for work related souvenir. Omiyage is also part of Japanese concept of “Giri” (Obligation)

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