What Should I Bring as a Gift?

Apr 22nd, 2002, 06:06 AM
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What Should I Bring as a Gift?

I'm going to Japan next month to visit a friend, and she will be showing me around the Tokyo and Kansai areas. I want to bring a gift, but I'm not sure what would be appropriate.

I am coming from the US, and she has lived here in the past, so she is familiar with what is available here. I asked her directly if there was anything she wanted, maybe something hard to find there, but she said she wanted nothing. I came up with a list of everything from magazines to Prada shoes, and the most I could get out of her was that she would read the old magazines that I bring on the plane.

Am I being too pushy? Does she really want nothing? Any ideas on what someone in Tokyo might like from the US?

Apr 22nd, 2002, 07:27 AM
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Bonjour Joe,

I know the problem ...;-) as the receiver of a gift, the etiquette is that you don't, never, ever, tell exactly what you'd like, or even admit you might like receiving something, especially if you're female. Then, after at least 3 refusals, you can hint at something, while protesting that you don't want to burden your host with a totally unimportant errand, but that you will accept just out of not wanting him to lose face.

As the giver, you must bring something (never visit someone empty-handed), but should never, ever expect to receive any precise indications. I'm still trying to make my friends of 15 years tell me what it is they'd like, since I can't keep bringing them Swiss Army knives and Swatches watches (they must have cupboards full of them by now). Whatever you bring must not be too expensive (or they would have to replicate in sort), although it must be wrapped as if it was an antique china covered in gold.

Embroideries, local foodstuffs, carved wood kitchen implements (spoons, beermats), T-shirts or baseball caps with your hometown logo (for her children), liquor (in tiny, decorative bottles), beer or liquor glasses with your home team or town logo, etc., will always be well received.
Apr 22nd, 2002, 07:33 AM
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I forgot: if you're from the Southwest (or if you can make it yourself) how about a jar of salsa ?
Apr 22nd, 2002, 07:46 AM
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Thank you for the suggestions. Food items are a good idea. Do you know if there are restrictions to bringing such things into Japan? I will research that on the internet.
I am coming from the Washington DC area, so I was thinking of something relating to American history. Or, maybe just something with a Washington logo on it.
Apr 22nd, 2002, 09:38 AM
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Given the fact that food items is the favorite gift Japanese will bring back from their vacations abroad, there are few restrictions. Here's the latest information from JNTO http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/GJ/EI/customs.html

Something about history, native American peoples or your Washington DC will certainly do fine.
May 2nd, 2002, 05:09 AM
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I finally managed to get a suggestion from her (on the fourth try!). She wants something from Aveda. She told me to ask the salesclerk for something nice, which is a good idea, because I have no idea what they even sell!

Florence, thanks for letting me know about the three refusal etiquette. I would have given up after that.

May 2nd, 2002, 01:20 PM
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Hi Joe- Aveda sells spa and makeup supplies. One thing Japanese do not use is bubble bath or bath oils that are poured into the water. They clean outside the tub, and the tub water stays clean. Liquid soap, nice bar soaps, lotions, powders, scrubbers and small towels are fine!
May 2nd, 2002, 01:36 PM
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Aveda has some great shampoos and oil. Perhaps you might think about a nice gift basket from someplace like Bath & Bodyworks or a high end store like Nordstroms.

Perhaps, you might want to pick her up several fashion magazines, as well. Vogue, etc.
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