Gifts for Japan

Feb 29th, 2016, 03:08 PM
  #1  
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Gifts for Japan

I posted this question at the bottom of the Cherry Blossoms weather report, but then it struck me that that was not a good idea and that I should post a new topic since it is a complete different question.

I am heading for Japan for my first visit on March 30 through April 12. (Tokyo, Miyajima/Hiroshima, Himeji, Kyoto, Tokyo) looks like I'm hitting the Cherry Blossoms at the perfect time (as of today). (I have been to Tokyo on a 36 hour layover, but I don't consider that as a "visit" )

I am an avid photographer as some of you know. I have arranged for local photographers to work with as well as models (standard female models and Maiko/Geiko in Kyoto). I have heard that small gifts are a nice way to connect to those you meet and spend time with. I am bringing books of my photography for the photographers. I was wondering if those of you who have been to Japan could give me some ideas on kinds of small gifts that are appreciated by Japanese.

About my trip:
I am flying ANA, JFK-NRT. Amazingly, I was able to get a first class seat ("first square" suite seat) for miles. What was funny is that all business class miles seats were taken--that's the only reason I looked at first and was pretty happy. So, I'm looking forward to the flight : ). I think it will be a fun trip. I'm looking forward to capturing some great images. I'll post them when I return.

Thanks in advance for your help!
BostonHarbor is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 05:02 PM
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My 15 year old niece went to Japan with a Japanese family who lives here. My sister asked the Japanese mom what the niece should bring as small gifts for the families they would be staying with and was told Godiva chocolates and Godiva cookies. Sounded strange but that's what she brought.

Enjoy your trip!
Marija is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 05:24 PM
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That's great input.

There are special chocolates made just north of Boston in Salem called "Harbor Sweets". They make a chocolate called "Sweet Sloops" (sailing boat shaped chocolates). I didn't think about it until you mentioned Godiva.

Perfect. Thanks Marija!
BostonHarbor is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 06:10 PM
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Boston--they had to be Godiva because of the importance of brand names.
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Feb 29th, 2016, 07:24 PM
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kja
 
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My understanding -- which could easily be wrong -- is that the "best" gifts are those that are nominal in value, but bursting with meaning. So, for example, when I visited Japan in 2006 -- at at time when I lived in DC -- my Japanese friends thought that key-chains with images of DC's cherry trees (which were a gift from Japan) in bloom would be a perfect gift. And they said to make sure I wrapped these tiny gifts (even though so nominal!) and to offer them on crossed hands, while nodding and saying that the gift is nothing....

I'm sure you realize that photographing geisha or maiko (or anyone else!) without their permission could be problematic and that you have, or will, take steps to make sure that your shots are given appropriate authorization prior to distribution.

Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 08:19 PM
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I think BH hires her models, so permission will be done!

I think the Boston chocolates will be perfect, BH. Just make sure you wrap them nicely or better yet, see if you can get them wrapped with the company wrapping paper.

And always say, "it's nothing, just something small" when you give them, and don't be surprised when they put them away to be opened in private.

Have a great trip! Japan, like Cuba, is one photo op after another.
lcuy is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 09:01 PM
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My sons were high school exchange students in Japan, and before they left, we had an entire parents' meeting about what gifts to bring. So obviously, gifts are important.

It's important to bring gifts that are "American" in origin. The Japanese love it--and since you are in Boston, you can bring Paul Revere trinkets, or whatever. kja was right on about the key chains. I would also suggest some of those "I love Boston" T shirts.

My sons' teacher said not to bring candy because the Japanese don't like anything too sweet, but I don't think anyone would be offended with a box of your local candy, or a box of Sees.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 11:04 PM
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I also took some British pickled vegetables in small, attractively-labelled jars. I know the Japanese love tsukemono and thought it may be nice to offer the British equivalent, very different in style. I wrapped these in tissue paper and gift bags.
Kavey is offline  
Mar 1st, 2016, 05:12 AM
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What great ideas!!! All of them.

Thank you so much. CaliforniaLady, perfect! I'll pick up some trinkets with " Boston" on them as well.

Yes, Lucy, you are correct, I hire models. They are lined up in Kyoto and Tokyo. And, I travel with a Japanese professional photographer who can understand the "tricks of the local trade", so to speak. I always study the culture before I arrive in any country as photography is accepted differently in different places. As you know, my images are very important to me. I'm very much looking forward to this trip. I now need to start getting ready now that the cast is off my broken arm!
BostonHarbor is offline  
Mar 1st, 2016, 06:05 AM
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take me as entertainment
rhkkmk is offline  
Mar 1st, 2016, 09:19 AM
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Oh, Bob, I'm so sad that Fordors doesn't have a "like" button. I can't think of better entertainment

So, here, I'll make my own
BostonHarbor is offline  
Mar 1st, 2016, 10:31 AM
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omiyagae are best when they come from your home town and food is high on the list. As others have said, taking some local speciality is very common and welcome.

We tend to take honey and wine for our friends
PatrickHarnett is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2016, 09:03 AM
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a can of spam or hurricane pop corn oddly enough would get you notice and lots of appreciation. I know seems odd but trust me lol

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2016, 06:12 PM
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kja
 
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Oddly enough, the example my Japanese neighbors give of the greatest difficulty they had in expressing appreciation for a gift was when that gift was a can of Spam. But I'm sure people differ, and my neighbors could well be atypical....
kja is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2016, 11:44 PM
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I love the idea of taking local honey. I may look for some smaller jars of local London honey to take with me for my upcoming trip.
Kavey is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2016, 07:19 AM
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Booze.

No really. Some local hooch. Went over like gangbusters last time we went.
BigRuss is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2016, 06:52 PM
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Excellent suggestions all. I have some wonderful local chocolate that I am putting in lovely silk bags (thank for the wrapping tip). I'm also going to get some Boston Key chains, maybe of the swan boats in the public garden. Boston isn't quite as iconic as NYC. I'm going for pretty : )

According to Japan Guide as of today, Cherry Blossoms are opening a little earlier than was predicted, but viewing is suppose to be best starting the day I arrive and ending nine days later in Tokyo and Kyoto. Accidental, but great. Of course, that is as of today........and there are four weeks left before departure. It will be fun regardless, but I'm hoping things stay on course.

Thanks again for all the suggestions. I've learned a lot about gift-giving : ) Oh, and I just ordered new cards for my photography with my name in English and Japanese : )
BostonHarbor is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2016, 06:56 PM
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kja
 
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Sounds like you've come up with a great plan and will have a trip filled with treasured memories - enjoy!
kja is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 03:56 PM
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There is still some ume blossom and some "very" early cherry out in Tokyo - I didn't see much when out and about yesterday, but there are a couple of trees in the park across the street from where I am currently in Yokohama. The season might be a little early like last year, but there are still places to see many of the later varities.

Just on the honey gift, I have seven jars of the stuff this trip. In New Zealand we have honey made from "Manuka" trees which is pretty unique but also well known. We also have local chocolate and carry (to give away) NZ souvenirs to random people we meet (pens and Kiwi shaped bottle openers).
PatrickHarnett is offline  
Mar 4th, 2016, 11:05 PM
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I will be in Yokohama in a few short weeks.

There's a new bean-to-bar chocolate producer in London, very high end, award-winning, and pretty packaging. I'm thinking I could get some bars of this as well as honey, if I can find London honey in smaller jar sizes.
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