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お土産を買いました。I bought souvenirs.

March 2, 2010

Well yesterday I had to run some errands with a friend, so we took a quick trip out to the stores in Orlando. I figured this was the best time to get my omiyage.

お土産 【おみやげ】 (n) (pol) present; souvenir – omiyage

In Japan, this is a highly expected tradition and/or protocol. Typically, whenever one goes on a trip, it is common for them to bring back something to share with co-workers and friends or family. Usually, the omiyage is a specialty food item, famous and exclusive to the region one visited.

Me bringing something from Florida will be a great way to start off my new working relationships in Japan. However, there is a problem. What food is famous or exclusive to Florida? Well, citrus fruits are about the only thing that spring to mind. Obviously it is not at all practical for me to attempt to bring a crate of oranges with me. So what’s the next best thing? Raid the overwhelmingly tacky tourist shops in Orlando.

For those of you who have never lived or visited central Florida, you must understand this is the number one tourist destination on earth! I can’t even begin to explain the level of recreational activities that abound. Nor can I begin to describe the massive amounts of gift shops. Some of these shops are the size of whole supermarkets, brimming with 10 T-Shirts for $10.00 and every magnet, key chain, and paperweight you can dream up.

Though I love and appreciate traveling, the tourist factor of Orlando is definitely overwhelming for us locals. Cheesy doesn’t even begin to describe the touristy atmosphere. So the thought of actually stepping foot in one of these stores made me a little queasy. But where else would I find cheap, stereotypical Florida-esque gifts to my new colleagues? There was nothing for it. I had to enter the domain of tourism.

Here are some pictures (not taken by me) of just a FEW gift shops here in Orlando. And yes, I have personally driven past each one of these at some point, and can verify their existence. *sigh*

I desperately wanted to try and get something as non-pathetic as possible. I tried really, really hard. But in the end, the cheapest, easiest things I found were boxes of salt water taffy. The boxes are extremely Florida-esque. I bought four boxes, one for each school that the teachers can all share amongst themselves. I also bought postcards to show everyone while they are enjoy their taffy. Talk about playing up the Florida stereotypes! But I think it should suffice.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2010 9:10 pm

    Oh, common Jenn…just buy a couple of Gator caps…they’ll love ’em…trust me. But seriously, think small, packable, thoughtfull and not too expensive for most folks, otherwise you risk embarassing them. When I left, the Japanese were still in love with Walt, so something from Wally World will always work. Try to have a couple of ぎりitems packed away, because you will always meet someone unexpectedly. ID a couple of people and think specifically about what would interest them. AND, remember that packaging and presentation 98.6% of the gift. BTW, good case of jealousy going on here. I feel better only because you are not going to Kansai…that’s my second home.

  2. hamiinjapan permalink
    March 3, 2010 10:09 pm

    I think you should have gone for the crate of oranges 🙂 I can just see you walking throught the hotel at orientation carrying it.

    I’m struggling with my omiyage. I bought 4 boxes of teabags, but the person I’m replacing has told me that I’ll be working in 7 schools so more shopping is needed. And Wolverhampton (where I’m from) is famous for nothing 😦

    By the way, what is salt water taffy?? Always wondered…


  3. March 3, 2010 10:18 pm

    Oh! Salt water taffy is a smooth, chewy, almost creamy like candy.
    Very, very chewy. It’s good! 🙂 A very famous beachy type souvenir.

  4. March 8, 2010 8:10 am

    I think I’m with you on this one Jenn – though I don’t think our shops look anywhere near as gaudy as that! I can’t bear to walk into any souvenir store selling tacky Aussie souvenirs like cheap stuffed koalas made in China or t-shirts with bad down-under puns. *shudder*

  5. October 28, 2010 10:16 pm

    when i go to a gift shop, i always look for cute little stuffed animals and other cute stuffs*`;

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