Japan is a country where the giving of souvenirs/gifts are very important, as well as the presentation of those gifts. Japan is also a country that seems to already have everything … they have all the brand-names and their technology and design seem to be far superior to the rest of the world (and, everything is cuter!). So. What to take to Japan as gifts? I know a lot of people are going to take good care of us in Japan so I want my gifts to be nice and thoughtful. After asking my friends and “researching” on the internet, here are my omiyage ideas:
* Eco Bags (Reusable Bags) from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. They are cute, functional, and seem to be popular in Japan. (click HERE to see how much they are selling for in Japan!). I read that large eco bags are hard to find in Japan. BONUS: they can double as gift wrap!
* Nice hand lotions from somewhere like L’Occitane or Crabtree and Evelyn. I bought these cute gift sets. Who wouldn’t love these whether you live in Japan or anywhere else in the world?
* Little hand sanitizers, called “PocketBacs”, from Bath and Body Works. Inexpensive, cute, and useful. I have heard that since hand sanitizers are not widely used in Japan, you’ll have to explain to your gift recipient how to use this. I think it would look really nice to package 2 or 3 of these in a clear cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon.
* Kitchen tools and accessories from Williams-Sonoma or Crate and Barrel. I think beautiful kitchen towels, pretty cupcake liners, or unique kitchen tools would be nice (note: measuring cups, unless they are measuring spoons, are probably not a good idea because they are different sizes in Japan and in the U.S.)
* Foods like fancy balsamic vinegar, local honey, maple syrup, jam, or spices.
* Pretty earrings, perhaps made locally where you live.
* I hear that cute aprons are popular these days. Anthropologie has some that any girl would love! For someone who likes to host home parties.
* If your recipient is into scrapbooking/card-making, pretty papers, stamps, stickers, cutters, etc might be nice (I like the Martha Stewart Line that can be found at Michaels or JoAnns).
* Nice stationery and notepads (Barnes and Noble, Hallmark, and Papyrus have nice selections).
* For my grandpa, I plan to get some beef jerky, nuts (nuts are expensive in Japan), and dried fruit.
* NFL or College team T-shirts or other apparel
* I hear teenage boys like shirts from Hollister, or vintage shirts.
* American candy. I have read that Skittles and Reeses’s are two candies that can’t be found or are rare in Japan.
YOUNG GIRLS AND BOYS:
* Hair accessories and clothes from Gymboree or Janie and Jack (or any store, really).
* Sticker Dolly books. I LOVE these!! Great quality and so adorable. I recommend this one.
* Disney princess stuff.
* T-shirts (perhaps from Old Navy?)
* “Where’s Waldo?” books.
* Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, and other “American” snacks.
* Things that go along with American holidays, such as egg-dyeing kits for Easter, Halloween candy, etc.
* Your favorite children’s books or music CD’s.
* Girl Scout Cookies! Those definitely can’t be found in Japan, right? I think the Thin Mints would be a hit.
* Chocolate-covered pretzels.
* Gourmet flavoring for popcorn.
* Tea and coffee (I don’t drink either, so I don’t have any recommendations).
* If going before the winter holidays, I hear American Christmas ornaments are a hit. Hallmark has a million to choose from!
* CD of music played by your local orchestra.
* Think local! What is unique to your area?
PEOPLE WHO YOU’RE REALLY CLOSE TO:
* For my aunt who is going to be helping us a lot in Japan, I thought I would make her a photo book of our trip to Japan and send it to her after our trip so she can recall the fun we had! I have used Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Blurb, and they are all great.
* For my grandpa, I am going to give him a framed family photo.
* It might be fun to put together a CD of your favorite music for a special friend.
WHEW! I hope this list helps someone out there, because I did A LOT of thinking to come up with things that might be well-received by friends and family in Japan! I’m also going to take a stash of gift wrap, gift bags, and tissue paper so I can wrap these gifts nicely after we arrive in Japan. I know it’s not REQUIRED to give everyone a gift, but it sure feels good to reciprocate the kindness that everyone shows to us when we visit.
And yes, you may say that omiyage adds bulk to your luggage, but after you give them all away, you’ll have more space for all the fun things you buy in Japan :). OH, also, it’s a good idea to not take anything that takes up a lot of space. Most Japanese homes are very limited on space. So something that can be consumed or used up is best. Also, be careful with chocolates in the summer, as they may melt.
Do you have any great omiyage ideas? If you live in Japan, what are some things you love to receive from overseas? アメリカから欲しいお土産は，何ですか？Don’t forget to check out my post about what to buy in Japan, here.