What's new

Gift ideas for friends in Japan

Zanoske

Kouhai
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
4
Hi Everyone!

First post \^^/ I'm new to the community, but I expect to be active in the not-to-distant future. For now though, I have to be brief because my wife and I are traveling to Japan (for the first time) in just 2 days!

During our trip we'll be visiting two Japanese friends. We've been stressing our brains trying to think of fun gift ideas to bring them, but we're coming up blank. Please help us!

One of our friends is a girl and she got engaged recently! I read that a fan might be a nice traditional gift since it represents the wish for a happy future, but is that appropriate? I'm not sure if that would be strange to give...

Our other friend is a guy and we're really struggling with something for him. We originally bonded with him over drinks, so maybe something to do with beer or sake would be appropriate?

I've also heard that food stuffs from your native land are always nice to bring, but that's tough since many things are perishable. We're from USA, so if there are any American treats that are popular in Japan we can try to grab them - we're just not aware of what might be a good choice.

Please share any ideas you might have; it is extremely appreciated - Thank you for your help!
 

Zanoske

Kouhai
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
4
Update! I've done some more research and so far have come up with:

For our girl friend - Homemade rice crispy treats. Still looking for another good idea for her though.

For our guy friend - Homemade rice crispy treats and locally brewed beer.

What do you guys think? Any other ideas?
 

Glenski

Just me
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
4,744
Reaction score
374
You were worried about perishable foods and still settled on Rice Krispie treats? I'm not even sure how well that will travel, let alone make it through customs. Why not just get some local cookies or cakes or some special tea or flavored coffee (especially decaf) all in individually wrapped packets? A picture book showing your home region would also be nice, or a T-shirt or keychain with a professional sports team logo.
 

joadbres

八方凡人
Joined
Sep 19, 2016
Messages
559
Reaction score
151
Bring something from your culture, not from their culture. It will be more appreciated and less awkward.
Although homemade food is more personal, in Japan when a traveler brings food as a gift, it is usually some kind of name brand store-bought item of quality with nice packaging. I recommend that you do the same. If you bring homemade food on a long flight, it is clearly not all that fresh, and could produce an uncomfortable vibe. Packaged food is better. How about some kind of food that is famous from your local area? That usually goes over quite well.
Bringing alcohol for the guy is definitely a good idea, and will be appreciated.
 

mdchachi

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
2,602
Reaction score
474
Given that beer is pretty heavy, I'd probably go with some good beer snacks of some sort. Or maybe a small fifth of something like Jack Daniels plus the snacks.

For the girl, preferably something nicely packaged like Godiva. Or tea. etc. Since you already know her somewhat, think back to your interactions with her and the things she likes.
 

Zanoske

Kouhai
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
4
Thanks for all the replies guys, this has been helpful.

We've got everything pretty tied up at this point, but these were all great ideas. I was surprised/not surprised about the Godiva call out. We were thinking of bringing a bottle of wine, but Godiva has the same vibe :) Might do that!
 

Zanoske

Kouhai
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
4
We're going with the krispies, yes - but we're going to fancy them up. Presentation is key ~_^

We also have the local beer for my buddy, and we're going to grab a t-shirt for our girl friend. Maybe grab Godiva if there's time, but it's getting close to go time.
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
16,454
Reaction score
2,223
I can't help but think bringing rice snacks to Japan is very much a "coals to Newcastle" situation, but I'd live to have some Rice Krispie treats myself.
 

Zanoske

Kouhai
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
4
I can't help but think bringing rice snacks to Japan is very much a "coals to Newcastle" situation, but I'd live to have some Rice Krispie treats myself.
Hahaha I didn't even think of that. These will be transcendent though. We've got mini chocolate chips to add in :3
 

WonkoTheSane

先輩
Joined
May 12, 2013
Messages
1,333
Reaction score
299
I can't help but think bringing rice snacks to Japan is very much a "coals to Newcastle" situation, but I'd live to have some Rice Krispie treats myself.
Up until this moment I don't think I actually missed anything from home, but now I'm craving freshly made rice krispy treats. Not cooled yet, the little globs of butter, it doesn't stay square but kind of oozes into a new shape...
 

Zanoske

Kouhai
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
4
Behold... The power of the rice krispy treat!

One last question for now gang - Is wine a good gift idea? We have a nice bottle of merlot we'd like to bring, but maybe wine isn't popular in Japan as a rule? I can't think of any instances where I've seen it in pop culture (other than being drank by a European character). I think our girl friend would like it since it's something she could share with her new fiancee. Most places in the world this would be a no-brainer since wine usually gives off a sophisticated vibe, but does anyone know if wine is generally unpopular in Japan?
 

Zanoske

Kouhai
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
4
One last question for now gang - Is wine a good gift idea? We have a nice bottle of merlot we'd like to bring, but maybe wine isn't popular in Japan as a rule? I can't think of any instances where I've seen it in pop culture (other than being drank by a European character). I think our girl friend would like it since it's something she could share with her new fiancee. Most places in the world this would be a no-brainer since wine usually gives off a sophisticated vibe, but does anyone know if wine is generally unpopular in Japan?
I did some more research about wine popularity in Japan, and I actually found quite a few very recent articles (all from 2017) that talk about how wine is very "trendy" right now and is increasing in popularity.

Good to know if anyone else was curious! I posted a few article links below :)

What the Japanese are drinking | The Japan Times

Working Women in Japan Are Drinking More Wine Than Ever - Bloomberg
 

mdchachi

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
2,602
Reaction score
474
As you noted, wine is not at all unusual in Japan. Go to google maps and search for "wine bar near Tokyo" and you'll see a nearly endless list of establishments. It may be trendy now but it was never scarce in my experience. I even toured (and tasted at) a Suntory winery many moons ago.
 

Zanoske

Kouhai
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
4
Hi Everyone!

We've returned from Japan (and the best trip of my life)! I wanted to just follow up to let you know how our gifting turned out.

For our girl friend we went with the nice bottle of wine and the homemade rice krispy treats. They both went very well! She and her fiancee had never had rice krispy treats before, but they loved them! They also seemed to like the bottle of wine and said they would save it for their wedding day to celebrate (so cute^^). Lastly we also wrote her a letter (we do this every time we get together) and that's really always the nicest treat I think. Personally messages so a long way to show it's that thought that counts.

For our buddy, we brought him Brooklyn lager (we live right outside of NYC) thinking it was something that wasn't too easy to get in Japan. He seemed to really like it. We also gave him a pack of rice krispy treats and he was really excited about them!

So everything turned out really well:D We loved seeing our friends and can't wait to see them again!

FYI for those interested - It's SUPER easy to bring bottled drinks to Japan. Just pack it in your checked baggage and wrap it securely in laundry so that's its got a nice buffer on all sides. Nothing broke going or coming from Japan (I brought a bottle of nihon-shu home) so it seems very safe. The rice krispy treats were also brought in our checked luggage and we wrapped them in saran wrap and then put them inside a tupperware. They were still fresh when we gave them out a few days later!
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
16,454
Reaction score
2,223
Thank you for the report. It is rare that anyone is thoughtful enough to return and let us know how things went.
 

SaikyoJoe

後輩
Joined
Mar 4, 2017
Messages
27
Reaction score
2
The best way is to present it right away, just as you arrive. That way you will make a good impression just as you enter the door. Good impressions means the energy flow of the house is happy and so that means you as a guest should be happy too.

A bag of crispy potato chips would certainly be nice.
 
Top