Presents from Paradise – Giving Omiyage
Do you have a family member or friend who is always jetting off to a cool new city? Tokyo one month. Peru the next weekend. And they always bring back a small gift for you from their travels.
Well now is the time to return the favor.
Here in Hawaii the practice of bringing back souvenirs or gifts from a trip for friends and family at home is called “omiyage.” A practice popular in Japan, the word omiyage translates to “souvenirs” or “gifts.”
While kamaaina (local residents) have adopted the practice here in Hawaii, the tradition isn’t as obligatory as it is in Japan, though searching for great gifts to bring back is typically on many Hawaii residents’ to-do list when they travel. Because as much as we love receiving omiyage, we also love giving it.
If you’re on the hunt for something special and unique for your favorite niece, or mom and sister back home, here are a few Hawaii gift ideas. Just remember to leave extra space in your luggage to carry them back home!
– Drop in to Town & Country Surf Shop (T&C) to shop where the locals shop. Here you can ride the wave and catch some cool, kamaaina-approved apparel for your friends and family back home. Craig Sugihara founded T&C in 1971 fueled by his passion for surfing and love of the ocean and today it is one of the most popular places for locals to buy casual shirts, slippers, board shorts, surfboards, and other ocean and skate related gear. It’s always a little difficult to find gifts for the man in your life but you’re almost guaranteed to find something they’ll like at T&C. Plus they’ve got cute keiki (children) apparel too!
– For ladies, locally designed jewelry is always a crowd pleaser. And you don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars on pearls to get classic, one-of-a-kind pieces incorporating local shells and washed glass. One of our favorite go-to boutiques is Fighting Eel with locations in Chinatown and Kailua. They feature cute, ocean-inspired jewelry at reasonable prices. Trust us, you’ll have a hard time leaving without getting a few bangles (and maybe a pair of earrings) for yourself!
– Known as the “Home of the Crispy Manju,” Home Maid Bakery lives up to its nickname by producing mouthwatering manju with a flaky, toasted crust and unique fillings. While this traditional Japanese confection is normally filled with a sweet azuki bean paste, Home Maid Bakery also offers their manju with apple, coconut, peach, pineapple, imo (purple sweet potato), chocolate, or peanut butter filling. These mini-pie-like snacks are also sold at some retail stores on Oahu but it’s always better to get them fresh at the original shop in Wailuku or Kahului. Just make sure to pick up this Hawaii treat right before you head back home and stow it safely in your carry on.
– The Alii Kula Lavender Farm is famous for their lavender products grown locally on their beautiful farm in Upcountry Maui. Founded by the late horticulturalist and agriculture artist Alii Chang, this 13.5-acre sustainable farm has about 55,000 lavender plants in 45 different varieties. Take a quick tour of the farm then stop by their gift shop to buy some Hawaii-grown lavender aromatherapy, bath and body and culinary products – the perfect gift for your mother-in-law or girlfriends back home.
Hawaii Island Gifts
– No trip to Hilo is complete without a visit to Big Island Candies where you can watch them make their popular dipped short bread cookies first-hand. Established in 1977, this company has since grown in popularity and today offers many omiyage options, though their shortbread cookies are still a favorite. Chocolate-lovers in particular may find themselves leaving with one or two of their convenient carry-on boxes filled with tasty locally made treats. If you have some adventurous foodies for friends or family, consider picking up a few packets of chocolate dipped Hawaiian treats like arare (Japanese rice cracker also known as kakimochi), li hing mui (salty dried plum), or ika (dried cuttlefish).
– Located in Kona, Kimura Lauhala Shop is a great place to get your crafty friend one of the most unique Hawaii gifts they’ll ever receive. Four generations of the Kimura family have been selling locally made lauhala products at this historic shop since the 1930’s. Lauhala refers to the leaves of the hala tree, which are used by many Pacific cultures to weave into mats, baskets, hats, and other useful things. Many of the lauhala gifts are made using hala leaves from Kona and their products can last for years unlike cheaper versions found in convenience stores or sold on the side of the road.
– Aunty Lilikoi Passion Fruit Products located in Waimea is famous for their lilikoi (also known as passion fruit) products. After Elpidio and Lori Cardenas purchased the then 11-year-old company in 2001, they worked to grow the product line from five to 45 products and turned it into an award-winning company. Today, Aunty Lilikoi offers a full spread from jellies, butters, mustards, and dressings to syrups, juices, personal care products, and a BBQ sauce, so there’s something for every food lover in your fam.
– Kauai Kookie was started by Mabel Hashisaka in 1965 and has since grown into one of Hawaii’s most recognizable brands with products in stores across Hawaii as well as nationally and overseas. Many of their cookies are baked with a Hawaiian flare including flavors like macadamia nut, passion fruit macadamia nut, Kona coffee macadamia, and guava. Kauai Kookie also offers other baked goods like baked manju and taro (poi) sugar crunchies as well as dressings and sauces. Their factory store in Hanapepe allows you to sample their baked goods fresh from the oven and is easily a one-stop-shop for all your Kauai gift needs since they also carry lines of Aunty Lilikoi Passion Fruit Products and Kauai Breadstick Co. products.