Sunday, August 3, 2008

Omiyage - The art of gift giving

So I'm starting to give out my omiyage (gifts).

In Japan - they LOVE LOVE LOVE omiyage. Anytime someone from the office goes on vacation - they have to bring back omiyage for the rest of the staff and principal. Usually it is something edible like chocolates or crackers which are known for that region. The Japanese also LOVE things individually wrapped. I heard from a previous JET that they put out a bowl of skittles for the office - but no one ate them. He said he later found out that they usually won't eat things unwrapped from the same bowl since everyone is sticking their hands in

What's hilarious is that when you give your gift you have to talk it down. You say: "Tsumaranai mono desu ga, kaigai ryokou no omiyage wo sashi agemasu." Which means: This is a boring and not very interesting thing, but my honorable one, I give this to you from my overseas vacation.

I'm just imagining what someone in America might say if you gave them a souvenir from your vacation and said: "This gift sucks - but here you go anyways my master." hahah...

For incoming JETs - if you're wondering - I brought:

For my Principal: Chicago Cubs wrapped Fannie May candy bar in a small tub of hershey kisses, and american flag wrapped mints from the dollar store (I put easter grass at the bottom of the see-through tub to make it look nice.) I also gave a nice big photo book of Chicago. You can get em from the bargain book section in Borders for $9.

For my Supervisor: Also the Chicago cubs candy, kisses and mints in a tub, plus a Chicago T-shirt

For my Neighbors: Little bags of mixed individually wrapped chocolates and mints

For my Staff Room: I bought an American bowl at the dollar store and will fill it with kisses, dove chocolates, andes mints, and american flag wrapped mints.

I also brought a lot of random stuff like Chicago cubs toy baseballs, key chains, maps, tea bags, etc... so I'm saving those until I see who has been helpful.

Some JETs were advising you don't need to bring any omiyage but I think that's shitty advise honestly. It's better to be safe and get off on the right foot at your schools and with your neighbors. Plus they are really genuinely interested in your hometown so it's awesome if you can give something that comes from there. :)

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