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  • bearing gifts?

    I am going to be arriving in Japan in one month, from the US ... I will of course be meeting my girlfriend's parents and sisters, all of whom are very excited about my visit (thank god!)

    My question is this: I have read that houseguests in Japan are expected to bring gifts for the family, and I plan on doing this anyway (good manners, I believe) ... But I am really not going to have a large amount of money to spend on the gifts, maybe less than $75USD per person. Is this acceptable? In America it is said that 'it's the thought that counts,' but is it the same mentality in Japan? I just don't want to cause any problems or have my girlfriend's parents think I am rude! :|

    Thanks for any advice you can offer ...

    joshua

  • #2
    Re: bearing gifts?

    I m not sure about the gifts. I just wanted to tell you how lucky you are that her family is looking forward to meeting you. I ll be visiting my girlfriend and hopefully meeting her disaproving as hell family this summer. I tried sending gifts at Christmas for her mom and dad but i dont think it went over as i planned.... i may be in for a looooooong summer! anyhow good luck b.

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    • #3
      Re: bearing gifts?

      Also here to a great extent, and as a foreigner you have the privilege of not being expected to behave as a Japanese. (Aren't we all lucky!)

      The custom is also not to open the gift in your presence, so that neither party can see, show or feel disappointment with an inappropriate gift.

      Type of gift? Something related to you or your hometown would be great. You're flying in, so a big item is out of the question. So something small but of good quality, and preferably with a story attached, so the "new family" can talk about to their neighbours. Japanese like to boast too!

      Have fun, and remember:
      keep your sentences short and simple, take off your shoes, rinse the soap off before jumping into the bath and pour the other persons drinks, and never be the first to raise a toast - you are the guest, for the time being!

      TH

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      • #4
        Re: bearing gifts?

        Think about it, If you were a Japanese parent would you want your girl to marry a smelly ill mannered rude stinky circumsized non japanese speaking gaijin? Of course not!

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        • #5
          Re: bearing gifts?

          I remember you`re from Seattle because I`m also from close by there. Ichiro is like a god here so if you need to buy for males then your coming from the right place. And something to do with the space needle should be good enough for anyone. Don`t forget about the shoes like Trip Hop said, that`s a serious no no. Get some slip ons, they come with the Japan start-up kit.

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          • #6
            Re: bearing gifts?

            A picture book on Seattle or Washington state would be nice. Perhaps something like Indian trinkets from the local tribes.

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            • #7
              Re: bearing gifts?

              Circumcized? Many Westerners are not given the chop.

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              • #8
                Re: bearing gifts?

                Ask your girlfriend if her family likes smoked salmon.
                My mother-in-law LOVES me because i always bring her lots of smoked salmon from Vancouver. I always take a small portable cooler packed with ice and salmon as carry-on luggage on the plane.
                Once at Narita, after explaining to a female customs officer who the gift was for, she nodded her head and giggled, "Atama ga ii."

                Don't worry though. Whatever you bring as a gift will be terrific.

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                • #9
                  Re: bearing gifts?

                  Many westerners also arent smelly, rude and ill mannered. And also many dont have marraige plans and simply have japanese "girlfriends"

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                  • #10
                    Re: bearing gifts?

                    Hi Joshua!
                    You might also want to pick up a couple of extra boxes of chocolates in case you end up visiting the home of a relative or family friend, and a few trinkety gifts in case you run into any kids in the family. I've been doing the gift shuffle for 6 years now- hubby is Japanese, and there's his whole family to buy for- and what I've learned is that almost anything can be a gift, food and alcohol always go over well, and anything with a tie-in to your hometown or a regional specialty is great. Have a great trip!

                    Best wishes,
                    Marnie

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                    • #11
                      Re: bearing gifts?

                      wow, thanks so much for all of the great ideas, everybody! Fortunately I only have 5 people to buy for: her mom and dad, grandmother, and two teenage sisters. I guess some Ichiro stuff would be in order, plus SpaceNeedle-ish touristy stuff. Not too sure about the sisters, maybe some Louis Vitton? lol

                      Anyway, thanks again!

                      joshua

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                      • #12
                        Re: bearing gifts?

                        I agree with most of the people here. All the japanese I've spoke to seem to appreciate food and "souvenirs" as best gifts.

                        And another tip about gifts: no matter wath it is, never 4 items! Like 4 postcards or 4 chocolate candies. I've been said that the japanese writing for the number 4 is very similar to the one for "death", so it's no good idea giving somebody a 4 items gift.

                        I'm sure they'll love your gifts. ^_^

                        Have a lovely time in Japan!

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                        • #13
                          There were three presidential elections between these posts.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Very small presents (but good quality) would be fine. $75 bucks per person... no way... $20 more like it. For the Japanese the thought really does count. For example it wouldn't be seen as unusual (rather as thoughtful) for an employee from an office of 30 people to bring back a $20 pack with 30 rice crackers inside. One for each person. No problem.

                            Food always goes down well with Japanese. Booze too. Don't bring them things they feel they might have to keep on display...
                            Guess that advice works well anywhere tho...

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                            • #15
                              $75 is way too much. Just buy a box of assorted candies and it'll do the trick for the whole family. Everyone gets to enjoy it a little and you save your cash. I wouldn't spend over $25 total.

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