Gift-giving made easy! The most popular omiyage bought in Japan, station by station

Believe it or not, train stations are one of the best places to buy gifts in Japan. Train station omiyage (gifts brought back from your travels) are usually edible, representative of the local culture, and are well-received by everyone from colleagues at work to friends or neighbors.

Whereas in the west we tend to keep a person’s personality and their likes in mind when buying a gift, thankfully in Japan, it’s much easier—just buy what’s most popular! In convenient Japan, you’ll find most of the decisions already made for you, so all you have to do is decide how many pre-giftwrapped boxes you want of each item, and you’ll soon be on your way. You can even wait until you’re on the train to buy them from the vendor pushing their cart up and down the aisles on the Shinkansen.

While initially the array of train station omiyage may seem baffling (hundreds of choices!), in this article we whittle it down to the most popular picks; the things that anyone would love to receive. We’ll start in Hokkaido up in the north and move down the archipelago station by station, highlighting the most popular gifts sold at each bullet train station. At the end, we also offer some suggestions on what to purchase if you’re looking for souvenirs from Japan to take abroad.

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7 Japanese customs that even Japanese people wish would just disappear

Japan has a lot of unique customs, and not all of them make sense to newcomers. Eating fried chicken on Christmas Eve, anyone? How about the weird ritual of girls giving chocolate to guys on Valentine’s Day (do guys really like chocolate more than we girls do?).

But it turns out that there are plenty of customs that even Japanese people think are a waste of time. Here’s the top seven worst offenders, and why they are so annoying…

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“Nara Quest”: The perfect parodying souvenirs from Nara Prefecture for all Dragon Quest fans

What would you get if you crossed the ancient capital of Japan with the massively successful Dragon Quest series of video games? Nope, it’s not a silly question, since this collaboration has already been realized in the form of “Nara Quest,” the funny title for a handful of amusing souvenirs from Nara Prefecture that parody the famous game franchise. Read on for a look at the clever goods!

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The top 10 sweet souvenirs in Tokyo

If you’re lucky enough to take a trip over to Tokyo, it’s best to bring a little slice of Japan’s capital back home for those who missed out on your trip. But with all the delectable sweets and beautifully packaged treats, it can be a little overwhelming to choose the right one. So before you leave, be sure to take a look at this list of the top 10 omiyage you can only buy at Tokyo Station.

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Top 10 souvenirs from Japan, as chosen by foreign visitors (and not a folding fan in sight!)

Earlier in the year we brought you Japanese people’s best souvenir recommendations for foreigners, in which items like folding fans, Japanese wagashi sweets, and even traditional swords were featured. But what do visitors to Japan themselves choose as the best things to buy as a memento of their trip, or take back for their friends at home? The answers may surprise you!

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Unusual flat-pack daruma voted Japan’s most fascinating souvenir

If you’re looking for a unique Japanese gift that’s light in your luggage but heavy in tradition, then this is the item for you. It’s called the KD Daruma (Knock-Down Daruma) and it’s modelled on the centuries-old, round, good-luck talisman which symbolises Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. This modern take on the daruma features a flat-pack design and clever assembly so unusual it’s just been awarded first prize as Japan’s most fascinating souvenir in a competition held by the Japan Tourism Agency. We take a closer look at the details to see what makes this little novelty so charming.

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Scowling mascot brings a little fame to Japan’s least popular prefecture

Shimane Prefecture, ever heard of it? If your answer is a resounding “no,” you’re not alone. The oddly shaped prefecture stretching along the western coast of Japan is barely known within its own country, let alone abroad. But one disgruntled mascot is out to bring Shimane’s shortcomings to light, making fun of the prefecture’s lack of popularity and population, and giving the area a little boost in positive publicity online.

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Country Ma’am to release chocolate chip cookies based on traditional Japanese sweets

Who doesn’t like to kick back and enjoy a chocolate chip cookie every once in a while? Every country has a go-to brand of prepackaged chewy chocolate chip cookies. You know, the kind that you can put in the toaster over and make all warm and gooey… ahh yes.

In Japan the leading brand of these cookies has got to be Country Ma’am. Although they’re eternally available in plain (called vanilla), chocolate chip, and double chocolate chip flavors, this line of cookies is well known for its countless limited-time-only specialty flavors such as strawberry, cheesecake, iced tea, pancake, pumpkin, and green tea to name but a few.

However, this time they are coming out with two specialty flavors based on a pair of traditional Japanese desserts, to create a truly Japanese chocolate chip cookie experience.

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It’s Not a Souvenir, It’s Omiyage: Japanese Omiyage Culture

Tourist shops everywhere in Japan are filled with colorful boxes of local sweets that are perfectly portioned for sharing. These are omiyage. At work, it’s almost expected that you bring back a box of omiyage filled with a specialty product from the area your business trip took place in, and friends and family often purchase omiyage for those who weren’t able to make the trip. Many argue that giving omiyage is a distinctly Japanese custom; Yuichiro Suzuki, author of Omiyage and the Railway, explains in an interview with Yahoo! Japan.

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