Japanese Culture Omiyage SouvenirToday’s Japanese kanji word is お土産(おみやげ: omiyage).

お土産(or just 土産) means “souvenir”. I’ll explain this kanji word and Japanese culture of it.

Can You Read the Kanji “土産” Right?

If you don’t know this Japanese word, it’s so hard to get pronounce 土産 right in Japanese. The kanji “土” means “soil” and it’s usually pronounced “tsuchi” or “do”. The kanji “産” means “production” and it’s usually pronounced “u” or “san”. Yup, we see “mi”, “ya” or “ge” nowhere!

But 土産(みやげ) is “miyage” in Japan today. お土産(omiyage) is polite way to say it.

I think the word 土産 represents “the production of the soil” which means that “the stuff made locally”.

And also Japanese people today sometimes call 手土産(temiyage) “omiyage” simply. Temiyage is “Gift for Greeting” or “Thank-You-for-Inviting-Me Kind of Gift”. Temiyage can be anything but individually wrapped fancy snacks are popular.

Japanese Culture omiyage

Japanese Culture and Souvenir

Buying souvenir for EVERYBODY is very Japanese thing. Japanese people can get very busy when buying tons of souvenirs during a trip even if they don’t want to. Because most of Japanese people expect little gifts from you when they find out that you are traveling somewhere!

Unfortunately, It’s part of the culture. To show your respect to others and facilitate human relations.

Especially, a very important point, is to giveaway little thing like snacks to every relatives, classmates or coworkers, if they know about your trip. Sounds ridiculous? But it’s true…. If you don’t want to buy 50 pieces of snack, you should keep your trip top secret.

omiyage box

Where and What should We Buy?

As I explained, in Japan need to buy a lot of souvenir, so there are so many souvenir shops around tourist spots. But if you don’t have much time to stop little shop one by one for the Japanese Omiyage Duty, you can buy all you need at the big train station like the bullet train stops.

Local famous foods and folk crafts are a highlight in the souvenir shops. You should look up what is famous before you go. Just Google “Japanese city name, お土産” (ex. “Tokyo, お土産”).

Cute Little Key Chains from Asakusa, Tokyo
Cute Little Key Chains from Asakusa, Tokyo
Famous Glass Ball "Chura-dama" from Okinawa
Famous Glass Ball “Chura-dama” from Okinawa

Well, there so many cool stuff is available but it’s a kind of hard work to find stuff for 50 people in budget. So, individually wrapped snacks in the fancy box is very popular souvenir for everyone in the class or the office. However…Yeah, Japanese people are having hard time to find (many individually wraped small items) that kind of souvenir when they travel to other countries. (again it’s part of our culture in Japan so it’s to be expected but can become an issue)

Today’s Japanese Kanji Shirt is Love! Let’s find cool souvenirs for who you love!

Japanese Kanji Shirt Love

If you want to know the meanings of any Japanese kanji that you don’t see English subs for in a particular animation or live action movie, tell me “Name of the Show”, “Season and Episode #” and “the Exact Moment (Minute: Second)”! If it’s just Japanese kanji that you see around you, like a shop sign or a tattoo, you can send me the photo as long as you are allowed to take picture of it.

I can’t promise to reply to everyone but I’ll try my best!

Email to: info@kansaichick.com