The best gifts to bring to Japan! (Japanese survey results!) 「手土産はどうすればいいの?」 日本人に聞いてみました!


Hey guys! As most of you probably know, there’s
a custom here in Japan where when you visit someone’s house for the first time, you
bring them a gift. This is something you do for example if you were going to stay with
a host family. A lot of people will bring extra gifts when they come to visit just in
case they get invited to someone else’s house or something like that. And if you’re
going to be in Japan for an extended period of time, not just for a short visit, then
that’s something you might want to consider doing, too.
There’s all kinds of advice online about what kind of gifts you should give to Japanese
people, but I decided to settle things the way I like to do them: with numbers and charts!
So back last April I asked our Japanese viewers what they would like foreigners to bring as
gifts, and today I’m going to go over their responses. There were 50 valid responses and
since this wasn’t a poll or anything where people could select one certain answer, some
people recommended multiple things, other people recommended nothing, so the numbers
we give you are going to be the number of people who just came up with it on their own
out of 50. As you can see, 27 people recommended food,
14 recommended a small decorative item, and 11 recommended pictures! And I’m going to
explain exactly what all of that means. Most other things were single comment suggestions.
Also, aside from these categories, 34 people went out of their way to mention that they
would like something specific from your country. The Number 1 answer with 27 people recommending
it was food or snacks! And more specifically, food from your own country that you can’t
really get in Japan. So what can you get in Japan? Most major international food brands,
actually. So instead of hitting up Wal-Mart for snacks, why don’t you try going to a smaller,
specialized store. Something specific to your country is the best. So for example, if your
country has a lot of good chocolate, or maple syrup. Those would be good gifts to bring.
And unique items are good, too! If you’re from Australia and you have alligator jerky,
that’d kinda be a cool gift to bring! Two people went out of their way to mention
that the packaging on something is important, so if you can find something that’s packed
in a cute little box, maybe with a bow or something like that, that’d be a really good
idea. So for example, Jun and I recently received
this box of chocolates from France. It’s super cute; it’s got a little bow on it. This would
be a really good souvenir gift! Six other people actually recommended against
bringing food or snacks because they said that tastes differ too much in Japan and they’re
worried they wouldn’t like it. But, a total of nine people said they’d be happy with absolutely
anything and it’s really the thought that counts. I personally think bringing food is
a good idea and that’s usually what I bring because that’s kind of the easiest thing to
find as a gift. If you really want to find something that you think will suit Japanese
taste buds, then I would stay away from the really brightly colored things or things with
really strong flavors. Maybe stick to subtle, refined flavors. I know that sounds kind of
stupid, but that’s really the best way that I would be able to explain it. Chocolates are always good. It’s a really
easy gift. I would just try to stay away from American crap chocolates. Don’t bring them
a Hershey’s bar or something. And if you get the opportunity and have the
ingredients, you can also always try making a meal for them from your country. The next biggest recommendation with 14 suggestions
out of 50 is a small decorative item! What is a small decorative item, and why do people
want it? Some people prefer to have something that lasts rather than something they’ll just
eat and throw away, like with food. And why small? Because a lot of the places here are
really small and they don’t have a lot of room to stash a whole bunch of junk. Not that
what you’re bringing would be junk. But they don’t have room for it. A small decorative
item would probably be something that’s representative of your country or state or city, and it’s
something that the recipient can put on display and look at later and remember all the fun
times they spent with you! For example, I have a couple things I can show you. I have
this hand-carved camel from Tunisia. [Tunisia camel!] And I have this decorative coin from
Dubai, and I have this glass dagger from Afghanistan. From Russia, you could bring a matryoshka
doll, or a little statue of St. Basil’s Cathedral. From Australia you could bring
a little figure of the Sydney opera house, or you could bring a little kangaroo or koala
bear figure. Something hand-made is completely fine, and
in a lot of cases it can make the item seem cooler or more collectible. And actually,
11 people mentioned that they wouldn’t mind having something hand-made. And the third most common suggestion with
11 votes is pictures, a picture book, a calendar, or even a postcard. Something from your country
or hometown. Tell stories about what it’s like living in your hometown. That’s one
of the most interesting parts of meeting someone from another culture, right? You want to know
about them and see what it’s like living on their side of the world! In general, think about who you’re bringing
gifts for. Typically you only give gifts to people if they do something generous for you
or for example if they invite you over to their home for like a meal. If you’re just
visiting Japan for two weeks and you don’t have plans to meet anyone, you don’t need
to bring anything at all. If you’re going to be studying abroad but you’re not going
to be home staying, you still might want to consider bringing something just in case you
happen to meet someone. If you are home staying, then get to know who’s in your host family.
If you don’t know what to bring for them, you can always ask. But gifts that are age
or station appropriate are always good, so for example if your host family has a teenager
daughter, then you could bring her a necklace or bracelet from your country. By the way,
it’s not uncommon for Japanese women not to have pierced ears, so if you don’t know
then I would not bring earrings. If your host family has a housewife and you know she does
a lot of cooking, then you can always bring her something for the kitchen. I know how
sexist that sounds but really, it’s okay. Jun brought back a can opener from America,
because he was literally using one of those old stabby can openers to open Leo’s food.
And I mean, think about it. If you’re cooking every single day, would you rather use this
boring old spatula, or would you rather use this spatula I got from France. Okay, and now for some gifts you shouldn’t
bring. Meats, plant seeds, drugs, because all of those are illegal to take across international
borders and you probably won’t even get them through the airport. Also, drugs are
just illegal, period. Keep in mind that for ALL gifts, do not bring
anything that’s too expensive because they’re going to feel uncomfortable accepting it and
then they’re going to feel pressured to reciprocate it. I mean, if you have something really cool
at the dollar store in your country, then even that is fine. I’d say a good, safe
gift is maybe anywhere from $5-$20, or whatever the purchasing power equivalent of that amount
is in your country. If you’re bringing something for your boss, or if someone really went out
of their way to help you a lot, then you can bring something that’s a little more expensive.
But don’t put yourself out about it and don’t spend outside of your means. No one
wants you to get stressed out just thinking about a gift. It’s really okay, even if you
can’t come with anything at all. And if after all these suggestions you still can’t come
up with something, I usually default to Ferrero Rocher chocolates. That totally sounds like
I’m plugging a product, but I’m not. You CAN get them here in Japan, too, but they’re
just delicious and everyone loves them. I think that’s an all right gift to five. And
Ferrero Rocher, you should totally like pay me now, or… send me some chocolates. When you do hand someone a gift, wait until
you get seated in their home and then present it to them and say, “つまらないものですが”
which means, “This is really boring but here you go.” Or if you can’t remember that,
you can just say, “おみやげです” which means, “This is a souvenir.” Or
if you can’t speak Japanese at all, you can just say, “Here! Gift!” プレゼントです。 And that’s it! But BEWARE, one word of caution.
You can get locked into lifelong gift giving battles with people. Jun’s aunt and my grandma
are in a gift giving battle. They’ve never met. I don’t even remember how they started
giving each other gifts, but every time I get off the plane in one or the other country
I have a gift for one of them. They’re on round 4 of a 4 year gift giving battle now. Anyway, I hope this was all helpful and you
feel less stressed out about giving gifts now. If you do have experiences with giving
gifts, maybe you can tell us about it in the comments so other people can read about them
and see how things went for you. And thank you for watching! I’ll see you guys later!

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