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Omiyage: To Give or Not to Give?

Pictures, videos, and souvenirs— These are just some of the things that remind us about that trip we’ve planned for days, weeks, months, or even for years. It helps us recreate those wonderful memories as vividly as it could in our minds. We post those pictures and videos on our social media to share the positive vibe it has brought to us. Souvenirs or Omiyage is given to the people we are close with to express that we have not forgotten them during our vacation. But, do we really "need"to? *** In Western culture, Omiyage might be a little different from just purchasing a souvenir. OMIYAGE is defined as a gift you have bought on your trip intended for co-workers, friends, and family, while a SOUVENIR is usually for oneself. In the Philippines, we also have our own version of omiyage which is called “pasalubong,” hence; it is not a NEW custom I need to adopt. However, most of my friends in Japan are from Western countries that’s why I got curious on how they view this tradition. I asked my Japanese friends and foreign friends if they like giving omiyage or they feel obligated to do so. From Japanese’s perspective: • Most of my Japanese friends said that they don’t feel they need to buy omiyage for their colleagues. They like giving and receiving it. • Others said that they give omiyage because their co-workers also do the same when they go on a holiday. • However, some of them feel the “need” to purchase omiyage because it is how they can convey their “thanks” to their co-workers, who have been working very hard, while they are relaxing on their vacation. From a foreigner’s perspective: • Surprisingly, many of my foreign friends said that they also like giving omiyage since they get some “holiday snacks” from people at work. • Some stated that they only buy omiyage if they feel they want to or just share it with people they are close with or co-workers they like. • While others didn’t feel buying souvenirs for co-workers is a must, one had mentioned that it is a “cultural obligation.” Even if you don’t think you are obligated, you just do it because it’s just how the things go in this country. Like what they say, “Do as the Romans do.” *** Offer the things you can afford and make sure to leave something behind for yourself. That’s why when I’m broke from traveling; simple, I don’t force myself to purchase omiyage. Also, I don’t work in an office in Japan, so I’m not pressured to get some Tokyo Banana for my co-workers xD If I still have a budget for it, I grab a box of cookies with cute designs and put it in a fancy gift bag, giving it to my friends and some of my colleagues.I bought them from my Kanazawa trip! I do understand that there are some situations that can’t be helped. Let’s face it, no matter how small a gift is, just the thought of someone buying something for you triggers a good feeling, hence, if you don’t receive those holiday trinkets while the others do, it stings a bit. As a result, to avoid office drama, we offer omiyage to all of our co-workers. How about you? What do you think about this custom?

From Kanazawa-shi to Wajima-shi: A Noto Peninsula Roadtrip!

How to roam a place that is barely visited by BUS and unreachable by TRAINS? Answer, drive a car. Japan is a very convenient country to travel around. Almost everything is connected by trains or subways. There are buses that go around the nooks and crannies of every street. However, if you’ll visit the faraway gems of Noto Peninsula, by car is the best option to see the most of it. And wouldn’t it be fun to have a road trip by the sea with this hot weather?Shiroyone Senmaida in Wajima-shi *** Since we don’t have a car, we rented one. Rental cars are easy to find in Kanazawa-shi. There are tons around the station, plus, the information center in Kanazawa station has an English support, making it easier for non-Japanese speakers to locate one. • Make sure you have the papers you needed to rent. • There are rent-a-cars that only accept CREDIT CARD so make sure to check on that. • There is an English guide about “Driving in Japan,” get one! • Most of the rental cars are AUTOMATIC. • It cost about 7,000- 10,000 yen (or more). • Some GPS can be translated in English. Ask the rental service about it. We still used GOOGLE MAPS because the GPS of the car we rented wasn’t very reliable. Additional Info: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2024.html *** Why Kanazawa? We were captivated by a poster of Shiroyone Senmaida at the train station, so we decided to plan a trip around that area.Fukura Lighthouse (Shika-machi)  Fukura lighthouse takes about an hour by car from Kanazawa station. We didn’t plan to visit it, but we got lost and spend a lot of time driving around! We were afraid we won’t see the beauty of the coast outside the car.After minutes of googling, we found our first destination; Fukura Lighthouse, the OLDEST wooden lighthouse in Japan that was built around the Keicho Era. Among the bushes and narrow path, you’ll find it. There’s another lighthouse nearby that might confuse you. But, don’t fret! OLD Fukura is just couple of steps away. Additional info: http://satohama-tokei.jp/english-guide/ Ganmon Rock Ganmon, which means “Gate Rock,” offers a 20 minute boat ride for an up close glimpse of its majestic rock formation and other sightseeing spots. There is also a cave that you can check out, which is according to legend; it is where Minamoto no Yoshitsune hid when he was escaping from the founder of Kamakura Shogunate, Yoritomo. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time. Hence, we just viewed it from afar. Additional Info: http://www.hot-ishikawa.jp/kanko/english/20002.html Shiroyone Senmaida From Ganmon to Senmaida by car, it takes about an hour. There is another rock formation on the way called Hatago Iwa, but the sunset was almost on its way so we quickly drove to our main destination. At 5:00pm, finally, we saw the sunlight made the sea sparkle and the rice paddies golden. It was indeed a relaxing scene and a wonderful place to take photographs. Using machineries in Shiroyone’s small paddies is a bit challenging, thus, planting and harvesting the rice are done by volunteers and locals. Sunset viewing in this place is perfect by the end of April to July. That is why this is the TIME to pack your camera, get ready to listen to the ocean hit the shore, and anticipate the cool breeze of Noto Peninsula. Additional Info: http://senmaida.wajima-kankou.jp/en/

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