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omiyage for Japanese people


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I'm trying to finish packing (it's not going well) but I need to buy some omiyage for co-workers and friends in Japan. Right now I'm thinking:

Ice Wine--Japanese who visit Canada love to buy ice wine. I can buy little individual-serving bottles of it so I can give each person at least a taste of it.

Ice fruit wine--umeshu is popular--how about ice pear wine or ice peach wine?

Wild Rice--I'm in the Canadian prairies and wild rice is, to me, very Canadian (though I know it's grown in parts of the US, as well). I was thinking of buying some bulk wild rice and dried cranberries. After arriving in Japan I was going to package up a little wild rice kit--probably wild rice, dried cranberries, pecans, and a recipe for wild rice dressing. Some of my former students hated wild rice, so I'm not sure how well it will go over, but I figure if I give them a recipe maybe they'll at least try it.

Clodhoppers--Winnipeg doesn't have much, but it does have Clodhoppers! They're white chocolate-covered graham cracker and cashew treats. My Japanese friends find most North American sweets to be too sweet, but they all liked Clodhoppers so I think this one is relatively safe. I was thinking of giving it along with the Wild Rice kit.

Maple syrup--many of my former co-workers would get a lot of maple syrup as gifts but they had no idea what to do with it aside from using it for pancakes. I thought if I got maple syrup I would have to include some recipes--perhaps glazed carrots or something with kabocha if I can find a recipe?

What are some other ideas for gifts for Japanese people? If possible, it's best if it is light and not too large. When you think of Canada, is there any particular food that you think of?

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I think you have pretty much figured it out yourself! :biggrin:

I would think the two best ideas are the wine and the maple syrup. Fruit wines are become very common here,t ehre is a wide variety in all of my local supermarkets.

Most people here I think associate Canada with maple sryup and maple sryup is very popular here but also quite expensive so it would be a well appreciated gift.

Both wine and the syrup tend to be in glass bottles so if you want to avoid the glass how about some thing else maple based? Like maple butter or maple sugar and a short list of suggestions on how to use them.

Unless your co-workers are quite international I would avoid the wild rice, most Japanese I know are still Japanese white rice or nothing and ithere is a good chance they may never use it, the couple times I have prepared it it hasn't gone over really well :sad:

I do know someone who would love a bag of wild rice though.......... :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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Does it have to be Canadian things?

In addition to Maple syrup and other gift that you are thinking of....

I have friends in Japan always send me Japanese Okashi. In exchange, I send them something I can find here in NY. They seem to like Herbal teas -- lemon zinger, hibiscus, peppermint, rose hip, etc. They also like Pollen season teas, herbal tea for hey fever sufferers. Those unusual herbal teas are always fun to drink. And, it's light! :biggrin:

Check out the latest meal!


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All good ideas, Prasantrin! Also, maple cookies, smoked salmon and Canadian Whiskey are popular souviners. And, this is not specifically Canadian, but blueberry-flavoured things are good too- especially home-made jam.

Including recipes with maple syrup is a great idea but it seems it would be too ambitious for all except very enthusiastic cooks. Most people seem quite content to use maple syrup as a topping only, for pancakes or French toast. My suggestion of pouring a bit over vanilla ice cream went over well, and a few people went a bit further, flavouring tea or yogurt with it (can't imagine it was good with yogurt!).

Nothing wrong with maple syrup on pancakes, and since you'll probably be giving away little tiny bottles of it that's likely what it will be used for.

You might also want a to include a card with the ice wine (or try to find a pamphlet in Japanese) to explain what it is and how to drink it. This will hopefully prevent people from drinking it as mizu-wari (mixed with cold water), oyu-wari (with hot water), over ice or at room temperature- all stuff that my students, coworkers or friends have done!

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Thanks for all the feedback! My poor wild rice will be relegated to non-omiyage status. I'm sure I'll have at least one dinner party within the next month or two, so perhaps I'll make a side dish with it so people can take as much or as little as they want. Then at least I can eat the leftovers! And some just may find its way into my bag as gifts to certain ex-pats :biggrin: .

The allergy tea is a great idea--so many Japanese people suffer from pollen allergies so I'm sure it would be appreciated. I see if I can find some. I've never noticed it amongst the supermarket teas (like Stash or Celestial Seasonings) so I'll try some of the health food stores.

Most of my co-workers are busy teachers so they probably won't have much time to use the maple syrup for much else than pancakes. It's quite good with yoghurt, btw, and a couple of yoghurt companies even make maple-flavoured yoghurt! Japanese yoghurt is quite a bit more tart, though, so one would have to add that little packet of sugar and the maple syrup. That would make it very sweet. Oh, one very hot summer in Japan I used maple syrup as a topping for silken tofu! While not anything I would ever crave, it wasn't bad!

I'll pick up some maple cookies, too, and some packs of smoked salmon for special omiyage. And I'll definitely find a pamphlet for the ice wine. I'd hate to think of them adding water to it! :shock:

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