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Gift ideas for a Japanese friend?

I will be visiting Japan next month and will be meeting up with a long-time online friend in Osaka.

We have never met in person, but have been social media penpals for years and years. I would like to bring a gift, but gifts are not my strong suit and I know it is important in Japanese culture. He has a wife and two young children. His son fantasizes about tech toys but I don't want to be weird and ask what to choose as Christmas is after one month should I send him this https://www.geekwrapped.com/science-toys-for-kids to ask his children opinion? I also want to bring something for his wife and him.

I will be going to Osaka about 16 days into my trip, so super perishable foods are not ideal.

Any thoughts?


  • Options
    Generally you want to bring something that represents where you are from. Bring a small gift for each member of the family, and one gift for the family as a whole. Nothing extremely expensive is necessary.
    They will also return the favor and if you give very expensive gifts, it puts the pinch on them to give something of equal or slightly higher value. Foods are nice but also give them something to remember you by after the food is long gone. Keep a gift in reserve also to give the family just before you leave. Some typical items are: picture books or calendars, ashtrays, coasters, chocolates, fragrant bath salts, t-shirts or jackets of local sports teams, stationary with famous animation characters (except Mickey Mouse or Snoopy etc., they've got tons of that), BBQ sauces; dijon or dark mustards, dressings like Ranch, mushroom, herbal, etc., pure maple or berry syrups, some special local jams or preserves (except strawberry or marmalade, they got tons), baseball caps, fragrant soap or shampoos, lotions, cosmetics, cornnuts, salad toppings/bacon bits, air fresheners, nuts, dates, dried fruits, flavored coffees and teas, keychains, postcards, flavored powder coffee creamers, recordings of TV or radio, marinades...etc, etc.
    Be aware though that in Japan 4 and 9 are "unlucky" numbers, and especially older Japanese tend to be
    superstitious, -- avoid giving any sets of 4 or 9.
    I often bring some tea from a supermarket - it is cheap, light, and there are now several varieties of green tea that Japanese have never tried, such as with mandarin orange by Celestial Seasonings, or green tea with jasmine, blueberry, earl grey, apple, raspberry, lemon, ginseng or mint.
    It is very likely that your family will treat you very well if not lavishly, especially when you first arrive, such as taking you to some expensive restaurants, so make sure to bring something nicer to wear.
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