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Sightseeing, How to, Shopping, and other experiences in Japan. 802 Videos
Published on 06.01.2016
When you take a trip in Japan, part of the expectation is that you'll bring back some small (usually edible) souvenirs for your friends, family, and coworkers. It's a huge part of the culture, and while it's not required, almost everyone does it. Because of this, basically anywhere you visit in Japan will have at least a couple omiyage shops where you can buy souvenirs to take back with you. The kanji characters for omiyage, お土産, mean “product of the land,” and this is reflected in the typical things you'll see in these stores: local goods, ingredients, characters, and branding. So most towns will offer omiyage that have the name of their famous attractions and have some connection to a traditional sweet or food that they produce. If an area is well-known for its sweet potatoes, for example, most of the omiyage will be based on sweet potato flavors.
In the video, they're shopping in Kyoto, which means lots of green tea flavors and old-fashioned sweets like warabimochi (a jelly-like snack covered in sweet toasted soybean flour). Kyoto's most famous souvenir, however, is yatsuhashi. If you visit Kyoto and are getting gifts for Japanese friends and coworkers, it is assumed you will bring back yatsuhashi. The uncooked, soft variety is actually more popular than its crunchy counterpart, and these sweet red bean sweets come in a variety of flavors like cinnamon, black sesame, sakura, green tea, and more!
If buying for Japanese acquaintances, stick with the most famous product of the area, preferably with the name of the place you went printed on it somewhere. Also make sure they're individually wrapped and can be left out on desks or kept for a little bit of time without too much trouble. However, if you're buying gifts for friends and family back home, try to get something uniquely Japanese that you couldn't buy in your country, something that reflects local culture, or something crazy that you've never tried before! No matter where you travel to.