Queen's University Karate Club

Omiyage - A Gift

Tim Richardson, professor at Seneca College, in Toronto, ON, Canada

by Tim Richardson

When Japanese tourists and business persons travel abroad, the gifts which they bring back to friends, relatives and office colleagues, are called “Omiyage.”

The historical reasons for such gift giving are similar to those of several cultures around the world that reflect times when travel was dangerous and infrequent. The bringing of gifts upon return was a way that the traveler thanked those people who assisted him in his departure .

These days, the busy Japanese corporate traveler is often very rushed to buy such gifts. Therefore we see in international airports and other areas that have a substantial number of Japanese travelers, an assortment of crafts andd treats that make it easy for “special” gifts to be purchased.

Prices reflect what the market will bear. One can find several places in Canada where a gift, such as maple syrup, is packaged in extremely small bottles. The small size allows for several gifts to be carried with a consideration to weight and volume. Persons marketing to the busy Japanese know that there is very little time to make comparison shopping, to travel to a non-urban location to get a lower price, therefore the cost of Omiyage is very high. With exceptions, most Japanese don’t mind paying the higher cost, for the convenience of purchasing in the airport terminal.

A Submission from Tim Richardson
Nidan - Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo

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