Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tokyo Adventure III- All About The Omiyage

Here in Hawaii, many of us follow the Japanese tradition of omiyage or giving gifts when we travel.  Not only do we bring gifts to people we will be visiting, we will also bring back gifts for those who did not come with us on the trip.  That can be a lot of people, so we keep a mental listing to keep track.  I think this year I'm going to add it to my google docs so I can check it regularly as not to forget anyone.

Going to Japan:  Some Omiyage Tips
My co-worker recently came back from her trip to Japan and shared with me some ideas for omiyage that she found out Japanese people love.  She said that they like those little cooler bags we use for lunch bags here in Hawaii, so you can give your gift in one of those bags.  She also found out from the Japanese interpreter at Big Island Candies that Japanese tourists love milk chocolate, so if you are buying for someone in Japan and don't know what type of chocolate they like, go for the milk.

From past experience, we've always taken Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts.  I used to work there and found that people go crazy for them.  On our first trip, we decided to take a box of  the tetra packs (triangle shaped single serving size) and gave the whole box to the hotel staff upon check in.  They were soooooo happy.  We checked in late at night but the next morning the staff came up to us to thank us.  After that, they took good care of us!  Now we do that everytime.

We also brought a bunch of the Mauna Loa snack sized bags to keep with us.  In Japan, they do not tip at restaurants or other jobs that we are accustomed to tipping.  So instead, we might leave some nuts or other omiyage item.  We also gave some to this old man who was so nice to help us find Studio Ghibli.  He even found us later to make sure we didn't get lost and was so happy when we gave him a bag of the mac nuts.

We also "tipped" the cab driver with a bag of the mac nuts. He was so happy too.  I guess those things are like gold?

This time, we've asked some friends who live there if they want anything special from Hawaii since we plan on meeting up with them.  The last time one of our friends visited, we gave her a bottle of Lilikoi butter, but she said it was confiscated at the airport since it wasn't in her luggage.  So we got her a bottle that we'll bring on our trip.  She also asked for beef nuggets.. I believe its similar to beef jerky.  I guess she misses it now that she lives in Japan.

Our other friends love hula and right now its Merrie Monarch season in Hilo.  Gonna go check out the craft fairs to see if we can find stuff they might like.

Returning from Japan:  All About the Omiyage
Let's face it, Japan has the coolest stuff.  I traveled to Italy for my sister's wedding and I think I came back with only a couple of magnets as souvenirs.  But when I went to Japan, I couldn't stop hauling!

The main thing we all bring back is food.  Japan has the awesomest snacks!  Pretty much every arare you pick will be amazing so don't worry about which one to pick.  They also have the incredible kit kat flavors that you can't seem to get in the US.  They are Kit Kat crazy and even have a store in Ikebukro that I plan on visiting.  We've also tried to bring back some of the fresh food, but some of them don't travel that well.  More on food once I get there.

The first time we went to Japan, I decided that I wanted to collect chop sticks and also brought back chop sticks as omiyage for my office.    Here's some of the chopsticks I picked up along the way.

Most of them are from Disneyland, but I also got a lot from the Daiso- 100 yen store... which by the way is an awesome place to pick up omiyage!

I've also picked up washi paper for my crafty friends and went crazy on Rilakkuma for my friend Linda.  There is just so much good stuff to choose from that it makes bring an empty suitcase so worth it.

Probably the most unique omiyage item we brought back were these Puri cube figures that we got in Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza.  Here's the link to my blog post featuring this fun omiyage gift!

I have some orders to fill for some special folks that I'll share as I find them on my trip.  Desperately seeking Tsum Tsums!

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