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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!