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Great post - I really enjoyed reading about your gift-giving/receiving experience in Japan. Now I feel so rude for not giving back some of my students the gifts they gave me after a trip. Once I got a whole box of Krispy Kreme donuts just because a student's mother queued up for two hours at the Shinjuku branch. I wish I gave her something back!!!


At the museum where I work we often get gifts from visitors, researchers, or travelling co-workers. Because the treats will be shared out between everybody it is normally your basic variation of senbei or wagashi or cookie. But once we had somebody bring in a huge box full of cucumbers... They were good, although not nearly as yummy as your ikura or pricey grapes!


Gift is the only way we can have the cake and eat it too. Because even when we give it away, its pleasure remains with us. The satisfaction we draw by giving a gift gives us a feeling of being full, rather having eaten it. This is a subject not that well written about.

Even children who don't have anything give gifts when they are very young; a leaf, a flower, a piece of paper or even a bit of straw.The best ever gift me and my wife got was from our son when he was only four years old, on our marriage anniversary- two carrom board coins!



Wow, interesting...it never occur to me that a return gift is proper! I thought, if anything, it's out of good gesture and thoughtfulness. If anything, yes you would remember the generous person when you find something you think will be nice or appreciated by the individual.

I would like to add you on my facebook! I also post pictures of flowers and food, would like to very much share that w/ you!

my search email is: [email protected]

hope to hear from you soon!


Astrorainfall, don't feel bad. I think certain groups of people are exempt, like teachers (who would go broke trying to return all the gifts they receive from students) and foreigners, who aren't expected to know the rules. As for the donuts, your box was likely one of several the mom bought, so don't feel bad.

Sarah, you work in a Japanese museum? That must be fun. I think a box of cucumbers is a great gift. It reminds me of a camping trip I took in western Tokyo several years ago--it was late in the season so we were the only campers, and in the morning the campground owner came by with a little basket of her homegrown vegetables. It was the first time I'd eaten cucumbers and tomatoes as-is, just munching them like they were apples or something. It was all good, but the cucumber was the best cucumber I've ever had.

Hermes, that's sweet. In Japan there are of course gifts given from the heart like you describe, but in the case of obligatory gifts I'm afraid most people get little pleasure out of giving them.

Lynne, I've sometimes made myself feel bad by giving someone a gift and then receiving a return gift upon our next meeting. As if I forced them into the inconvenience of buying a return gift. It does take some of the fun out of giving, but in another way the return gift is itself an expression of thoughtfulness.

Moshi Mooch

Hi Amy,

Can I add you on my Facebook? Can I email you my email add?


Beautiful scarf!
I am an avid tea drinker and I would say that Earl Grey is one of my favourites but it's all a matter of taste! ;)


Wow, that's a really beautiful scarf !

I like Earl Grey, but I also like to taste many different kinds of tea such as Oolong, Green tea, etc. Here, we have several kinds of local tea, some with smoky tone and other is just smooth and comforting.

I agree with you Amy. I also wouldn't like to give a present to someone only to know that it will be a burden for that person to return my present. But you sure is lucky to receive such a good quality of presents.


Have you tried stores as Kaldi or other import shops to find your US candy?

I am always in awe to find my american favorites like Snickers with Almond and such in those type of places.


I stumbled on this post while looking up gift-giving ideas! I'm about to head to Tokyo and Kyoto, where I'm renting a house for a week. Do you think it will be awkward for the landlady if I bring her a gift? Something small -- a collection of jams/preservers.

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