Omiyage – sharing travel memories
Hi. I’m Yukako who lives in the northern part of Europe, and teaches and tells people about Japanese traditional culture such as tea ceremony, kimono, etc. offline and online.
Have you ever received omiyage from Japanese friends? In Japan, people always buy family or friends something from the trip, which is called “omiyage”. When the custom of pilgrimages was getting more popular in the old time of Japan, people would come back with souvenirs. They were hi-gashi (a dry confectionery hardened with sugar), and shoga-to (ginger juice simmered in a syrup until hard) at that time. In a previous article, I mentioned how precious sugar was in the old time of Japan. Even some other omiyage were available, it was too expensive for most of people to buy them.
Manju: the oldest Omiyage selection
Manju is a rice flour cake with sweet bean paste inside. It is usually in a hemispherical shape and has a shiny surface. You also see some writing on the surface. It is because manju had begun to be sold more after decorating or illustrating on the top, so this unique idea has been passed down to the present day. Those writing is wide in variety. The Chinese character “寿” is often used for celebrating festival such as wedding, and some print their brand name to gather more and more attention. It is sort of a message for sharing a special memory or advertising something.
In fact, you can’t find any other countries has such a wide selection of omiyage snacks! These days more and more have been coming up, so don’t forget to get omiyage for your loved ones!!