Omiyage = “Souvenirs” for your colleagues, friends and bosses after a trip.
Remember the over-sized souvenir t-shirt with “I ❤ XXX” that you never wore it outside your house? Or the cute ornaments from all different countries that you collected so much that you can open your own souvenir shop in the alley?
I have been there, not sure what to do with all the stuff I bought from travel because I love them all, even considered opening a café in the future just to display everything I got 😄
Anyways, since I realized I should not try to buy the whole country back into my house, I found other things that I can bring back and share with family and friends without taking up space: Food.
When Japanese people travel, it is their custom to bring back something for their colleagues, family, friends, neighbors and more. Just buying things for others alone could cost more than their actual trip fare. In the old days, Japanese would bring back charms they bought from the shrines to their family, but nowadays most Japanese people bring back special boxed food gifts as souvenirs.
To accommodate the trend in Japan, many cities developed their own specialty food souvenirs: Tokyo is famous for Tokyo Banana and Sesame Eggs, Hokkaido is famous for milk candy and chocolate cookies, Kobe is famous for their “raw chocolate” that melts instantly in your mouth.
But now, I have to show you my beloved all time favorite food omiyage from Japan that I recommend you horde them to yourselves and not share with anyone!
1. Tokyo Banana
If you love the taste of banana, and you love sponge cake, you will not get over how good this is. The soft, moist, fluffy banana flavor sponge cake wraps around the creamy banana paste inside (The cream part tastes like actual banana.) It is not super sweet like traditional Japanese snacks, and you can eat this for breakfast, afternoon snacks, or late night snacks. I usually buy 2 boxes at a time, and can finish a box of 20 Tokyo Bananas in like 2-3 days easy.
2. Hori’s Melon Pure Jello
I stumble upon this one when they ran out of the Peach Jello at Narita Airport (Peach Jello costs whopping $20 USD per huge piece good thing they ran out). If you are not a fan of cake, there is the Melon Jello. When you put this jello in your mouth and try to bite it, it explodes in your mouth and release refreshing melon juices that will quench your thirst. =) It actually has the flavor like real melons, not the artificial taste. Just do not try to swallow it at once.
3. Potato Fries
My cousin shared a small bag of this with me after she came back from Hokkaido. At first I was like, fries? Probably not that exciting I thought. But, after I took a bite, I basically robbed the bag from her. First of all, although the texture is a little bit harder (since it is a kind of potato chip), it tastes just like French fries!!! Who would not love that? And since they have so many little bags in the box, you can take one every day and bring it to anywhere as a snack.
Interested? Next time when you are about to leave Japan, check out what food souvenirs they are selling at train stations and in the airport ~
I would also love suggestions on what food gifts I should buy when I travel to countries in Europe!! I cannot wait when I make that Europe trip sometime =D