Without an expert guide,
have you missed half the experience?
Welcome to Omiyage Memories!
What are omiyage memories?
When we return home from traveling, the human instinct is to bring something with us. In Japanese, souvenir is translated as omiyage. Omiyage sometimes takes physical shape, but it can also refer to a treasured memory of travel. This website helps you to understand Japan's unique food culture before your visit, mainly focusing on a new idea in the evolution of travel called gastrogeography.
Every omiyage, whether a physical gift or a memory, reflects local stories and the background of the places you visited. When you assemble those scattered stories like collecting points to a line, and further to a surface, you will have a full understanding of your trip with vivid impressions. Each omiyage memory will not only shine in your hands, but in your heart!
What is Gastrogeography®?
Gastrogeography is a three-dimensional preparation for understanding your experience, considering the geographical, seasonal, and historical aspects of the foods you encounter. It's a way to explore deep culture in Japan instead of the whirlwind cookie-cutter tours of sight-seeing spots and shops that usually target tourists.
Articles, features and interviews
We will periodically publish articles and feature stories about gastrogeography, including the regions and seasons of Japanese omiyage. We will also publish interviews with experts, so that you can develop a deep understanding before your trip. As a free member, you will have access to special articles by our monthly email magazine.
Online consultation with a licensed guide
For your travel preparation, sessions of online consultation are available for reservation with a government-licensed guide interpreter who holds a sake diploma (sommelier) and pharmacist license. All questions about Japanese food culture and travel are welcome. Please see our online consulation section.
Exclusive omiyage hunting information
We provide an online guide for omiyage hunting, including practical information from all parts of Japan. Japan produces a wide variety of souvenirs from the traditional to the cutting-edge to the (frankly) bizzare. Visitors often can't find what they want because of obstacles like geography or season. We will guide you to the best locations, with the best information, and steer you past the tourist traps!
Some articles will be openly available to all website visitors. Others will be available only to members. Membership is free, and you can become a member by signing up with your email address.
In doing so, you will receive our email magazine with links to exclusive content. The mail magazine will be sent as new articles are available. We won't send more than two emails in each calendar month.
Who hosts your experience at Omiyage Memories?
I am Misao Toyoshima. I have worked as a government-certified professional guide interpreter and medical interpreter for eleven years. I'm a sake sommelier and a pharmacist. I am based in Tokyo, but I guide more than 200 guests per year nationwide.
When you are ready to get specific, you can talk to a government-liscenced guide and interpreter through Zoom, for a reasonable fee. All questions about Japanese culture are welcome!
Please read more about this service at the link below.
We will cover the foundational aspects of Japanese food culture to make sure you start with a grounded knowledge. We'll discuss topics such as the meaning of rice in Japan, how it's harvested, how it is made into sake and how it's essential to Shinto rituals. We'll also cover our favorite cooking styles and bento (lunch box) preparation. Further topics are the important connection Japanese food has to season, water resources, marine products and fermentation products.
The main section of the website focuses on our new concept: gastrogeography. We'll consider Japanese food culture from three dimensions. You'll learn from a view of how history and climate have shaped our perception of foods. Also there will be local specialities from 47 prefectures, and stories to enhance your understanding. You can find the secrets of delicacies, how they came to exist and feel the people's passion who made them. And lots of practical advice and recommendation for finding hidden gems on the ground during your trip.