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This question is based on the comment thread I've read from ELL.

Based on the clarification under Peter's answer, I was wondering if 'omiyage' can never be used for something bought for one's self?

I searched Google and it provided links where there are indications that there is an 'omiyage culture', and it clearly states that an omiyage is some kind of a 'gift'.

In English, 'giving' a gift / souvenir to one's self to serve as a remembrance is okay (e.g., I bought this souvenir to remind me of my trip to Paris), but is the word 'omiyage' suitable for the same usage/sense?

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お土産 is basically a gift that you give other people such as your family, relatives, friends, colleagues, boss, teacher and people whom you owe something as a souvenir of your trip. You can also take 手土産 which literally means ‘hand-carry’ (inexpensive) gift to your acquaintance or neighbors when you make a casual visit or in case of moving house - for the greeting to new neighbours, simple items such as handtowel, canned green tea, and 浅草海苔 (dried seaweed) are used as 手土産.

Of course, you can buy お土産 such as cake, food, beverage, and handicrafts for your own use or consumption at local shops and 土産店 - souvenir shops as a token of your trip. Nobody blames anyone for doing that. But when we say お土産, it usually means a gift to others.

  • Thank you so much for this answer. I was thinking of the same thing until the confusion. Again, thank you for clarifying and giving concrete examples. (+1) – shin Mar 16 '16 at 1:08
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While it is definitely traditional to buy お土産 for others, buying them for oneself is also a thing. Consider the two following phrases.

自分へのお土産

自分用のお土産

Searching the former one gives a hit from instagram #自分へのお土産 with a few thousand posts.

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    Thank you for this answer. Words are evolving too. I am guessing this is also an acceptable answer (if we do apply some contemporary usage), but I can only accept one answer. (+1) – shin Mar 16 '16 at 1:08

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