Oh me, oh my, omiyage!

Monday Musings from Melinda by Melinda M.

Omiyage (oh-me-ah-gay), n. In Japan, souvenirs are known as omiyage, and are frequently selected from products associated with a particular region. Bringing back omiyage from trips to co-workers and families is a social obligation, and can be considered a form of apology for the traveller’s absence. [from Wikipedia]

There are two kinds of omiyage – the outbound and the inbound. The outbound – what you take with you – represents or is coveted from your place or both. From Hilo, that usually means Big Island Candies or Two Ladies Kitchen Mochi or, from what I’ve learned from my unscientific research, beef jerky from George’s Meat Market (I have to try that!).

Big Island Candies is a fabulous place to shop.

It seems like every trip I go on, I stress over trying to find something different, but I always come back to my old staple, Big Island Candies. It’s a great choice, and they often have some new product that will delight your recipient, be it coconut manju or lemon dipped shortbread cookies or a new variety of Mika Mints. Mmmmm. And going into the store is always a delight, too, right on par with those fancy Honolulu or mainland stores.

Chocolate covered mac nuts for random people you come across on travel adventures.

But lately I’ve been noticing a lot of new products on the market that are easy to pack and possibly unusual to gift: chocolate bark from Hawaii Island Gourmet or a variety of hot sauces, salts or Hawaiian teas from a variety of vendors.

Hilo omiyage for your creative cook friend.

The coconut candy sold at the Farmer’s Market tastes terrific and of course, Kau coffee is the best if you know your recipient loves coffee. (Click here for the post about some omiyage ideas from KTA)

Then there’s the inbound omiyage. The kind you bring back from your trip, whether you went to a neighbor island, the mainland or abroad. Of course, you’ve got to bring back for the neighbor who kept an eye on the house, the friend who cared for your pet, and the aunty who drove you to the airport. But, this being Hilo, there are always so many other people you will bring back for because they are always on your mind – teachers, book club friends, gym buddies, family, co workers, maybe even your children…?

The folks I know in Hilo always appreciate something from Trader Joe’s – a trail mix, some cookies or yummy chocolate. We’ve been the lucky recipients of bread from Molokai, frozen guri-guri from Maui and Sugoi’s garlic chicken from Honolulu. Yes, people actually go through the trouble of stopping at a restaurant or ice cream shop and bringing that on the plane to you. Sometimes the whole plane can smell like take out, because of the variety of boxed foods people are bringing from island to island!

Recently, I received my absolute favorite omiyage: Kit Kat that comes from different regions in Japan.IMG_8234.jpgI quickly stashed them so my kids won’t devour them!

I love that Living Hilo Style means being thoughtful, especially when that thoughtfulness is expressed through food!


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