Unlike in the Western world, where souvenirs are thoughtful but not expected, in Japanese culture buying omiyage is not optional. But there is an upside to this obligation: receiving omiyage in return, and with it a tasty peek into someone else's travels.
In Japan, every region is known for a food specialty of some kind. The small city I lived in, Ogaki, was famed for its delicious and abundant groundwater, so a water-infused red bean jelly called mizu-yokan might be a typical omiyage purchased by visitors. Figuring out each place's specialty and then buying a box of it to share with my co-workers was one of my favorite aspects of traveling in Japan.
Have you ever received omiyage? Is there a regional food specialty where you live?
Related: 5 Souvenir Ideas for Food-Lovers and their Kitchens
(Images: Anjali Prasertong)