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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Absolute Beginner Questions Answered by Hiroko, where I’ll answer some of *your* most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is… When are OMIYAGE expected?
When Japanese people visit your house, they bring you a small gift which is called “omiyage”. Also after travelling somewhere they give you a little present, like a specialty of the place, for example. This may be a different custom from other countries.
Tourist shops everywhere in Japan are filled with colorful boxes of local sweets that are perfectly portioned for sharing. These are “omiyage.” At work, it’s almost expected that you bring back a box of omiyage filled with a specialty product from the area you went to. And friends and family often purchase “omiyage” for those who weren’t able to make the trip. It shows their consideration to people who stayed at home.
“Omiyage” is translated as “souvenir” in English, but the two are a little different. A souvenir is something that the person who is doing the traveling buys for him or herself to remember the trip. But Japanese “omiyage” typically consists of food items produced in the area the trip was taken in. Also, “omiyage” is not intended to be consumed by the traveler and is instead given out to coworkers or friends.
Even if you don’t travel to other places, you should bring a small present to your friends’ house. For example, fruits, cake, tea and so on. This is also called omiyage. The reason why you should do this is that your friends have prepared for your visit for example, by cleaning and displaying flowers and so on. They also serve some food to you. So you should express your gratitude to them for their effort. “Omiyage” is a great way to do this!
I hope you can understand this Japanese custom and accommodate it from now on!
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!


Please to leave a comment.
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
January 12th, 2016 at 06:30 PM
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What Japanese learning question do you have?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
November 21st, 2017 at 06:51 PM
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Hi Louise,

Thank you for your comment!

You don't have to brihg おみやげ every time. I bring something when I am invited for lunch, tea, or dinner and they prepare for my visiting. Among very close friends, I might not bring anything, おみやげ is always welcome though.

Keep studying with JapanesePod101.com



Team JapanesePod101.com

November 6th, 2017 at 07:25 PM
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Should you bring an おみやげ every time you visit someone's house or just when it is a more formal setting, like if you're invited to dinner?

Thank you for all the great content!

JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 4th, 2017 at 01:38 PM
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ヘラルドさん こんにちは。

Good point! You can say  手ぶらで、構いません。 in polite way、and 手ぶらでいいよ。to your friend.  Stay tuned!

We wish you the best of luck with your further studies.


Team JapanesePod101.com

August 3rd, 2017 at 04:19 AM
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When you make a call to a friend requesting him to come over to your haouse but want them to go empty handed, could you say something like: お土産をお願いしません。

JapanesePod101.com Verified
November 13th, 2016 at 03:46 PM
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konnichiwa! :smile:

In a work place, it's more common to bring おみやげ packaged for group of people

unless you want to offer something special to certain individual(s).

You don't have to buy gifts to all of them individually, but probably, if the school is big

and principal and vice principal have their own chambers/offices,

you can take separate おみやげ for them. It's of course not an obligation.

As to introductory gift, again this is not obligatory and not always done, but

you can take some sweets or snack from your country.

They'll appreciate that! :innocent:

Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com

October 22nd, 2016 at 06:32 AM
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Are the おみやげ usually packaged for individuals or multiple people? Lets say I worked at a school and wanted to bring something back from a trip either from within Japan or abroad for the principal, vice principal, and other teachers. Would I bring something for the whole group to share (particularly with food) or would I bring something for each person individually?

I worked at a school in South Korea for a year, and it was the custom that you bring gifts for your boss and others in the workplace when you first meet them. Is this also a custom in Japan? If so what would be the phrase for those "introductory gifts"?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
September 27th, 2016 at 03:17 PM
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I think it's up to you. You don't necessarily have to give anything, but it's a nice gesture. :innocent:

Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com

September 17th, 2016 at 02:56 AM
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If I book a room or a house/apartment on AirBnB or similar site, should I give an おみやげ to the host (or leave it for them if I don't see them in person)? It is a rental, so I am paying for their services. But the place I am renting is often their home or property.

JapanesePod101.com Verified
July 4th, 2016 at 01:18 PM
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Nic san,


Thank you for your post.

It is not wasting at all.

Please share your experience and thoughts.

Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

June 22nd, 2016 at 08:14 AM
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I grew up in the western USA and this is not too different than my own customs. When she traveled, my mom would bring souvenirs back for my sister and for me.I loved getting them because it made me feel included in the trip. I still have a few as an adult. Not only that but when we would go to some ones house for a "formal" (one with more than one or two guests) event we would bring something for the host. I like to give alcohol XD. Sorry for wasting the space with my comment but I like sharing.