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Every resort town, holiday destination, theme park, and museum in Japan has a gift shop full of souvenirs- the obilgatory omiyage that travelers bring home for their family and coworkers.

Visit any of these shops, or the quaint village streets lined with them and you will see your fair share of Hello Kitty kerchiefs, brightly colored plastic doodads, and keitai straps with the sights printed on them, or if you are touring a place proud of its local history, some handmade textiles, pottery, lacquerware or basketry.

Many omiyage are edible and that's probably best, because how many phone straps does a person need?

Some of these tidbits are local specialties - dried seafood, artisanal sake, or jam made from produce grown in the district - but most are merely one of a half dozen types of popular sweets packaged up in easy to carry boxes and wrapped with appropriately themed paper. Most frequently seen boxed omiyage are chocolates, vanilla creme cookies, and the ever-green favorite, manju, steamed buns filled with sweet bean paste.

Geki Manju

This box of manju I received last week takes the cake. These limited edition Geki Manju are the omiyage from the Self Defense Forces. I guess you need to have something to bring home to Mom when you're on leave.

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