Souvenirs/Omiyage Etiquette in Japan

Hello world! It’s Mr. Wada back on duty. I would like to share omiyage etiquette this time.

Souvenirs/Omiyage Etiquette in Japan

Omiyage means souvenirs in Japanese. Pretty much everywhere you go (especially train stations, sightseeing places, rest stops in highway), there are souvenir stores and they sells local souvenirs like I have introduced Okayama souvenirs.

You could just stop by at the end of your trip and pick souvenirs in a sec. But for those who aren’t sure how to select and how to give omiyage properly to your coworkers, friends or clients, here is some reference for you.

Tips for Buying Omiyage for Coworkers/Business People

I recommend to select souvenirs based on these below.


Omiyage is usually food or something consumable (doesn’t matter for friends though).

Wrapped Individually

Pick something wrapped individually or cut/sliced would be appreciated.

Souvenirs/Omiyage Etiquette in Japan

Stuff that Lasts Long

Such as baked items would be ideal. Japanese sweets are likely to be chosen but most of time they last only for a few days.

Something Safe

Avoid what possibly some people may dislike. Always better go for something safe. Funny stuff would be great sometime. However, you don’t want to pick something too unusual and no one likes it…..(it has happened to us with some herbal teas). Funny stuff though you especially have to be careful because it could give your clients a bad impression but  it could work sometime. You better watch and figure them out first. It is definitely at your own risk. (heh heh)

Etiquette for Giving Omiyage to Business People/ Friends

To Business People

Generally speaking, omiyage should be handed over to your client AFTER greeting and exchanging business cards. In case of a business lunch/dinner, it should be handed over AFTER eating. Make sure that omiyage is out from a paper bag (from a souvenir store) but if the client seems to need it (ex; at a restaurant), you could give it to him/her a well. Be considerate what would be more convenient for the client.

To Friends

You may have opportunities to visit friends’ houses sometime. Take your omiyage from a bag and hand it over BEFORE having a seat. Keep the bag to yourself.

If possible, consider the liking of family members. The key is get them what they like, NOT what you like. For instance, baked items for coffee lovers, soft and easy stuff for seniors, etc.

What to Say When Giving Omiyage?

Many Japanese ‘humbly’ say Tsumaranai mono desuga つまらない物ですが (here’s a little something for you). However, it sounds too formal and pathetic for me. We should say at least like Okuchi ni au to ureshii no desuga お口に合うとうれしいのですが (Hope you like it).

Souvenirs/Omiyage Etiquette in Japan

Alright, let’s call it a day.


How do you find it? ‘Hope you like it’. Heh heh.

See you around!

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