As a foreign resident of Japan, I take occasional trips back home. And on such occasions, I almost always find myself at a surprising loss for ideas when souvenir shopping for friends stateside.
Sure, there are obvious choices: "Hentai" manga makes a great gag gift, for example, but you’re bound to go on some kind of watch list if customs decides to randomly inspect your luggage. Yukata seem universally appreciated by new-agey aunts, and quirky Japanese toys are great for kids. But foolproof, sure-to-please-anybody gifts are surprisingly hard to pick out.
Luckily, a Japanese reporter at Excite Japan, who travels frequently and thus has lots of souvenir purchasing experience, has revealed the top Japanese gifts most likely to please friends and family abroad.
Anything with kanji on it
This one is a no-brainer, as foreigners seem to attribute near-mystical powers to words spelled out in Japanese characters – especially the cheesy ones like “love,” “power,” “family,” and “fried chicken,” the last of which has almost certainly ended up tattooed on a lot of frat kids’ arms.
Just don’t come to Japan expecting to pick up a bunch of kanji T-shirts for friends; you’ll quickly find that the Japanese are more partial to T-shirts featuring hilarious, mangled English, so the only kanji ones you’ll find are mass-produced garbage for gullible tourists.
Food samples and sushi magnets
Those super-realistic plastic food samples sitting on display outside of damn near every Japanese restaurant really are a marvel of art and technology, and are endlessly fascinating to us foreigners. Just tell your friends on the receiving end not to let them sit too long in direct sunlight, or that delicious plastic spaghetti sculpture will share the same fate as that box of Crayolas you left on the sidewalk when you were a kid.
Like the sometimes disappointingly small portions at Japanese restaurants, a lot of Japanese goods come in mini-size – which is often a good thing for friends that are constantly on the move. Mini shampoo bottles, mini shaving cream, mini styling kits; you can find a lot of daily commodities in tiny versions here. Honestly, though, we don’t see how this is any different from shoveling the contents of a hotel medicine cabinet into your luggage.
Omiyage is the name given to traditional Japanese souvenirs – almost always food items that come individually wrapped inside ornately decorated boxes. A lot of these go great with tea, come in unique flavors, or are specific to a region of Japan, making for a unique and portable gift that will surely be appreciated.
So whether you’re coming to Japan for a short visit, or vice versa, be sure to pack up some of the above for friends and family on the way out, as well as some hentai manga to plant on your childhood enemy’s doorstep.
Source: Excite News
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