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Cytrix
May 8th, 2012, 10:29
I imagine a lot of you newbies will be beginning to think about omiyage and freaking out with what to buy to bring over. Here's a thread for you to hear the real story from current/past JETs and to ask questions. You will hear people say 'DON'T BOTHER' and no doubt on official everyone will be all 'BUY EVERYTHING'...so what's the truth?

My omiyage story?

I went overboard...I was buying all these little knick-knacks such as keyrings, pencils, erasers, calendars, books etc. Anything that had a kiwi or a NZ flag or to do with the All Blacks was instantly snaffled into my shopping basket. As a result of this I now have a giant drawer filled with all the random crappy souvenirs that I will never use (and will no doubt start shoving at random people).

The things that I AM glad that I bought...

- NZ stickers (which were obliterated during my Christmas card lesson)
- a Kiwi stamp (which I use for my 'Kiwi points' reward and motivation system in class)
- a stuffed kiwi (great for introduction lessons and I occasionally bring him to class which the kids love)
- NZ honey for my host family (everyone in my prefecture stays with a host family for the first two nights - one week of arrival in the area)
- NZ-themed tea (from T2) for my supervisor
- NZ music (have used this in lesson and at home/driving around)

I spent a lot of time making a scrapbook (just from an art journal) all about NZ that was a big hit, with Japanese and other JETs. I had different pages for different parts of NZ, info about the food we have, about my family, the native animals and different major events in NZ. It was mostly created from tourist pamphlets and printed photos from the internet. It was used rather heavily in my first two months and I still bring it out every so often so people/students can have a flick through and see different aspects of NZ life.

Page
May 8th, 2012, 10:55
Yeah, the noobs on official are jzzing all over themselves to tell people what's culturally or not culturally correct. Do what you want! While it's true that omiyage are bought by people who come back from a trip/special celebratory days at work/etc. you are not going to be set aflame for bring in stuff to people you've never met before. In fact I've received cakes from new teachers more than once. If you have low enough numbers it's a pretty nice gesture, imo. On the other hand no one is going to expect it so if you don't wanna, don't do it.

One thing I'd mention is that omiyage in Japan are generally food products (cakes, etc.) so passing out pencils or mugs might be a little weird. If you want to bring something bring some kind of individually wrapped food or candy. It doesn't even have to be super famous to your area, I think on my last trip home I gave everyone fiber one bars and reese cups. The year before was little debbie snacks.

bananallanah
May 8th, 2012, 10:57
Thanks Cytrix,
Will probably rip off all your ideas :p and this will no doubt save me a bit of coin in my preparations as I don't have to buy ALL the things.

Page
May 8th, 2012, 11:10
Oh yeah I should mention my post was about other teachers! I'm super glad I brought stickers and pennies and sht for the kids.

Takoyaki
May 8th, 2012, 11:13
aw mannnnn so many questions answered

Cytrix
May 8th, 2012, 11:32
banana, if you DO want to bring something for your schools (say if you end up SHS and just have a base school/if your schools are small enough), I've heard of a few kiwi JETs who found packs of individually wrapped kiwifruit shortbread/manuka honey shortbread that worked well.

Also it does not have to be one omiyage per staff member. Even when I go on trips and bring back stuff I just bring a box of like...30 omiyage. Being as I have 80 staff at my base school, not everyone is going to get one obviously, but it's what everyone else does here so when in Rome...

Ini
May 8th, 2012, 11:41
I bought some duty free booze but ended up drinking it in the hotel at tokyo orientation. It didnt seem to cause any problems.

years later I was talking to the head of the boe and he showed me a cupboard that was crammed full of shitty flags and nik-naks that had turned up over the years and they had no idea what to do with them.

Moral of this pointless and rambling story?
1) Don't feel obliged to bring anything.
2) If you do want to bring something bring food for the whole office rather than a brass ashtray for the principal.
3) Dont drink a 1litre bottle of export strength gin during orientation.

Jiggit
May 8th, 2012, 11:47
Yeah official is going on about how it's not expected to bring gifts for individual people. But the long and short of it is:

While it will not be expected and is not part of omiyage culture, that doesn't mean people won't appreciate getting a present from another country

I got stuff for too many people but I would still probably get stuff for some people. Especially my supervisor, they'll do so much for you at the start that it at least made me feel better to give her something.

Also bear in mind that if you do bring edibles as omiyage and it isn't individually wrapped in a way that says it's obviously omiyage Japanese people will turn their noses up at it. I brought a box of biscuits back with me after I went home for christmas but because they weren't uniformly and individually wrapped very few people took any.

Oh and yeah obviously it's better if you bring more but omiyage isn't always meant for everyone. Teachers will comment to me how its always a race to get something if it's particularly nice/famous... and actually usually save me one, which always embarasses me!

Cytrix
May 8th, 2012, 12:02
If I bring omiyage from a trip back I always make sure to put one on the desk of my JTEs and the VP, but other than that it's a free-for-all.

Ini
May 8th, 2012, 12:05
the individually wrapped thing isnt always that big a deal. I've seen cakes, buckets of kimchee, boiled potatoes, fish, stuffed egg plants and all manner of things bought in and given to the tea lady to cut up and lay out on a platter by the coffee machine

Jiggit
May 8th, 2012, 12:07
the individually wrapped thing isnt always that big a deal. I've seen cakes, buckets of kimchee, boiled potatoes, fish, stuffed egg plants and all manner of things bought in and given to the tea lady to cut up and lay out on a platter by the coffee machine

Guess it's just my school that are fussy beeches. Everything has always been individually wrapped.

Ini
May 8th, 2012, 12:11
high schools are always more uptight. at high school you have to bring individually wrapped omiyage and wear a morning suit, by the time you hit nursery school you can just turn up in muumuu and chuck a turkey leg on the floor for everyone to gnaw on.

Jiggit
May 8th, 2012, 12:19
Yeah I've found that. Everyone in my school is still wearing a black suit everyday and then immediately taking it off in the morning and rolling their sleeves up. I kind of prefer it this way. Once you've figured it out it's all very ordered and predictable. I don't get random bs thrown at me and I don't get expected to do things which a regular teacher wouldn't.

Anyway, off-topic.

Page
May 8th, 2012, 12:44
I dunno, I wouldn't recommend bringing anything unless you can make sure you can give one to everyone, especially since it's your first time meeting them. Your school might not be like Cytrix's. Teachers at both of my schools complain when parents give omiyage but don't bother to doublecheck the numbers, it's pretty rude. At least until you get a feel for your own school.

And yeah my schools seem OK with non-indivudually wrapped but what Ini is said is key, it needs to be laid on a plate or platter or some type as opposed to whatever foil or what-have-you it came in.

I would say the best bet would be to assume that your school has a stick up their collective butts and ensure that they're all individually wrapped (unless it's a super awesomtastic regional thing that you simply must bring) and have enough for everyone. Also bring extras in case, your pred might forget temp teachers, helpers, etc.

coop52
May 8th, 2012, 12:55
Stuff I brought:
stickers
scrapbook
box of saltwater taffy
couple of Atlanta Braves caps
some Georgia Bulldog keychains
brochures and pamphlets from local attractions

Stuff I actually used/gave out:
stickers
box of saltwater taffy
brochures and pamplets

The scrapbooks ended up being way too small for kids to see. I also couldn't figure out a good time to give out the random crap I brought, so I just left the box of taffy in the office. I ended up throwing away the other stuff when I moved. The brochures and such were useful for the school culture festival but were otherwise unused. I think I ended up sending them back home.

I wish I brought more pictures on a disk or USB. There's been several times where I've wanted pictures of myself in high school or as a little kid on Halloween or Christmas. The kids love seeing pictures of mundane stuff, too.

Page
May 8th, 2012, 13:06
Taffy was a mistake for me, all mine melted on the way to my placement. >/

Lianwen
May 8th, 2012, 13:28
What I brought:
Wine
Book on my area (found it in Barnes & Nobel and it was huuuuge and pretty)
Stickers
American flag hacky sacks
American flags
American flag stickers
Glow sticks
Lapel pins

What I wish/glad I brought:
Book on my area - I still use it, even though I intentionally meant to give it my BOE kocho.
Stickers
Lapel pins
Candy. Wish I brought more candy. Even if it was just me that ate it.
Pennies. I finally caved and ask my father to get me a roll or two of new pennies, since every bank I went to looked at me like I was crazy and told me they didn`t have change at their branches.
1000 dollar money blocks. I brought one back for my JHS Kocho and he thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Little Debbies snacks.
Victoria`s Secret body sprays (the cheap 6 for 30 bucks ones) - I made a lot of gal friends who like Victoria`s Secret from their study abroad/visiting America, and the pink & white stripped bag I brought stuff to a party in one time was ooh~d and awww~d over by the Japanese girls.

Things I wish I hadn`t brought:
FREAKING WINE.
Any thing with an American flag.

Eudox
May 8th, 2012, 13:30
I'd definitely go individually wrapped simply because you'll be arriving during the holidays when everyone has buggered off to great Japanese holiday locations and you'll probably end up just chucking it on their desks.

And definitely just bring food. Any food. But not chocolate. It's too fracking hot.

Lychee
May 8th, 2012, 13:37
My schools aren`t big on omiyage and giving out the group stuff is awkward still.. but everything I brought I used in one way or another. my kocho and kyoto sensei seemed to appreciate the beer。。。

Milanna
May 8th, 2012, 14:37
Yup I would definitely say that if you havent observed how your school/boe handle omiyage, make sure you have enough for all. Even if you think a free for all distribution system is ok, be aware you may get a silly and totally overboard show of interest/appreciation as the foreigner - even if you've been there a long time. The few times I brought stuff (even where I had seen teachers do it FFA style) I was instructed to go desk to desk and give one to everyone. At one school the kocho even made a big announcement which apparently required the applause of everyone in the staff room before I had to go desk to desk.

Lychee
May 8th, 2012, 15:00
Yup I would definitely say that if you havent observed how your school/boe handle omiyage, make sure you have enough for all. Even if you think a free for all distribution system is ok, be aware you may get a silly and totally overboard show of interest/appreciation as the foreigner - even if you've been there a long time. The few times I brought stuff (even where I had seen teachers do it FFA style) I was instructed to go desk to desk and give one to everyone. At one school the kocho even made a big announcement which apparently required the applause of everyone in the staff room before I had to go desk to desk.


Yeah for sure! I still haven't successfully given group omiyage.. although if you have a cool office lady you can give it to her to give out. Sneaking the Kocho and Kyoto senseis as well as your OTE a lil something is much easier..

Cytrix
May 8th, 2012, 15:21
I just write really retarded hiragana on mine that normally makes zero grammatical sense but basically says that I bought the omiyage from blah blah blah and please enjoy and they normally cream themselves over my retarded attempt at using their language

Tyr
May 8th, 2012, 18:49
I brought nothing whenI first came. Didnt seem a big deal.

Now...its complicated. Fair enough, get stuff for the other English teachers in my room. But beyond that...its random who gets stuff. The teachers I teach with for sure. But otherwise...other English teachers? Teachers who are nice to me?...randomly random and I can never buy enough for all when I travel (my bag is only so big...and theres a lot of staff...)

Eudox
May 8th, 2012, 18:58
Sounds like you're in a perfect free-for-all or nothing situation.

jwkelley
May 8th, 2012, 23:34
Buy peppermints, most Japanese do not like mints. Then sit back and enjoy watching people trying to keep a polite thanking demeanor as their face contorts and cringes.

Teishou
May 9th, 2012, 03:36
I'm not bringing crap...nothing but my brilliant smile and lovely personality. :D

Merkypie
May 9th, 2012, 04:02
Cheap ass

Teishou
May 9th, 2012, 09:31
Damn straight.

sloth
May 11th, 2012, 12:04
Yeah for sure! I still haven't successfully given group omiyage.. although if you have a cool office lady you can give it to her to give out. Sneaking the Kocho and Kyoto senseis as well as your OTE a lil something is much easier..

Did I miss a username change here?

sloth
May 11th, 2012, 12:18
You've missed three.


damn. Apparently I need to pay more attention.

Gizmotech
May 11th, 2012, 14:53
To hell with writing your name on the box. I just put it there and let em figure it out. 'sides... I'm the only one in my school with enough money to travel anyways. The teachers all be poor.

ozgal
May 13th, 2012, 18:58
I spent a lot of time making a scrapbook (just from an art journal) all about NZ that was a big hit, with Japanese and other JETs. I had different pages for different parts of NZ, info about the food we have, about my family, the native animals and different major events in NZ. It was mostly created from tourist pamphlets and printed photos from the internet. It was used rather heavily in my first two months and I still bring it out every so often so people/students can have a flick through and see different aspects of NZ life.

Thanks for sharing that idea. I'm thinking of doing up a digital version, then getting it printed and spiral bound (or something as cheap) at Officeworks. But first I'll wait until my I get my placement - elementary/secondary.

A related question - can any Australians who departed last year comment on whether you got free time to yourself at Sydney airport between check-in and boarding? Just wondering if I will have time to visit duty free shops (and the tax refund desk). If I don't have to fly from TO to my placement, then I might buy some gifts at duty free - less weight in my baggage. Too much optimism??

Cytrix
May 13th, 2012, 19:37
I don't think we have any real active members from Aussie from last year...

However, in NZ we had about a couple of hours at the actual airport in between check in and boarding. I think I ended up with exactly 2 hours free largely due to the fact I was one of the very first people through the check-in line...those later on had between 1 1/2 hours - 1 hour depending on how long check in took.

ozgal
May 15th, 2012, 20:34
Cheers. Was just wondering if we would be escorted (read, minded) by an official someone at the airport. Sounds free and easy!

lilyanphino
May 15th, 2012, 21:03
There will be tons of people herding you from the airport to the hotel, so don't worry about that.

Lychee
May 16th, 2012, 08:44
Did I miss a username change here?

figured maybe my real name was a kind of bad idea for a screen name ;)

So after eating all of the choclates I had initially brought for the staff room but was too awkward to share, I went on my first lil trip and brought back some milk senbei. Shelled out the extra cash for the big box and announce I have senbei for all! Open it up and the cookies are wrapped in packets of five so I ended up just giving a packet to kocho sensei, kyoto sensei, and my grade`s table. Lame. Never trust tiny island omiyage.

Cytrix
May 16th, 2012, 10:55
Cheers. Was just wondering if we would be escorted (read, minded) by an official someone at the airport. Sounds free and easy!

You'll be escorted once you get to Tokyo so you can't do duty free then. Not sure how the Aussie lot will treat you, but in NZ we were pretty much told HAVE FUN AND BE AT THE GATE ON TIME and were left to busy ourselves for a few hours.

In saying this: Just remember you'll have a tonne of stuff from orientation to carry around and depending on how you travel to your prefecture, you might not be allowed to take duty free etc. with you (one bag too many). You can buy cheap-enough alcohol etc. here. I've found it's actually far cheaper here for things like kahlua, bacardi etc. than it is back at home.

yukinomonogatari
May 16th, 2012, 15:43
For Canadians coming over: maple syrup, while damn heavy, makes a nice present for the new friends you make or your superior. So does ice wine, many people know about it. You can just get smaller bottles ;). Also, maple cookies are popular.

Can't agree more about bringing coins. Kids, especially in ES/JHS are wild about getting coins. Same with stickers, but you can buy lots here too. If you can, leave some money to your friends or ask your family to buy holiday stickers for you and send them over in advance. Christmas and Halloween ones are a huge hit, the other holidays are kind of ignored so kids often don't care much for, say, Easter stickers.

Page
May 17th, 2012, 10:28
Yeah my kids gave my easter stickers a "what is this sht" reaction.

coop52
May 17th, 2012, 10:36
Mine almost murder each other for Christmas stickers. They've had significantly more subdued reactions to my Thanksgiving and St. Patrick's stickers (which sucks because I have a ton of them). They love all my other non- holiday stickers though, especially the ones they can read-stuff with "smile" or "super" or "good job" on it. You might start a riot if you bring the really cool stickers like scratch-and-sniff or holograms.

Before you go out and get a bunch of stickers, make sure of what level you're going to teach. ES/JHS go nuts for them, but HS is hit and miss. They'll take them, but they definitely don't get as excited.

Page
May 17th, 2012, 13:28
Wal*Mart is a good place reward stickers if you're an AMURIHCAN. Not the sticker sheets with stationary/cards/whatever (which are anywhere from $1~$3 a set) but in the educational section. You can find ones that say "Good job" and what have you, my kids flip out for them, too.

Truthsauce
May 17th, 2012, 14:13
My omiyage story?



Does this kind of phrasing really bother anybody else?

Cytrix is a dried-up windbag and a compulsive liar, but omiyage are cool. If you work at ES or JHS your kids will also like cool stickers from Loft or wherever cool/cute stickers are sold. Onepiece or Miffy stickers will always trump "this a penny"

(mainly because Japanese stickers are worth way more than pennies)

Cytrix
May 17th, 2012, 17:20
I love that Truthsauce finds the time to try to troll me.

My kids went crazy over these random lamb stickers I found at the $2 store for all you Kiwi's out there. I'm honestly surprised Easter has never really hit off over here due to it containing all the things Japan loves (cute animals and chocolate).

Cytrix
May 17th, 2012, 17:55
They brought Christmas over pretty happily though...true it's not quite Christmas as we know it...

coop52
May 18th, 2012, 08:10
word. I've tried teaching the Easter Bunny thing, but it's hasn't gone over well. A bunny that brings you eggs just doesn't make sense. Even telling them that it's mostly about eating candy gets remarks like "so that's why Americans are so fat".

patjs
May 18th, 2012, 08:26
This thread comes up EVERY YEAR.

Do not buy into the "experts" who think you need to give stuff to everyone. As many have said- bring what you want, if you want to. If not, no big deal. Unfortunately a lot (no not all, but many) Japanese people aren't going to like your gaijin sweets. They might pretend because they are polite like that.

You do probably want to have plenty of prizes handy though.

+1 million to COINS AND STICKERS. Believe me, I had 3 years and 6 schools JHS and ES, and no matter what they will shit themselves over stickers. Even JHS kids will like the foreign coins.

Also +1 to staying away from Easter, Thanksgiving, and St. Patrick's day. They just won't get it. Even if you have a native Japanese person explain in Japanese, they don't get it. Thanksgiving actually went over so so, now that I think about it.

Jiggit
May 18th, 2012, 08:42
It's not that they don't get it, they just don't care. To care about these things you have to actually have it rammed into your face every year since you're born. Telling Japanese people "Uhh so yeah on this day we all buy chocolate eggs because of Jesus" just isn't that interesting.

coop52
May 18th, 2012, 10:45
My kids liked my Thanksgiving board simply because they thought the food looked good. Kids are always interested in food. I wouldn't waste a whole class on it though.

hunterofpeace
May 22nd, 2012, 03:16
Also +1 to staying away from Easter, Thanksgiving, and St. Patrick's day. They just won't get it. Even if you have a native Japanese person explain in Japanese, they don't get it. Thanksgiving actually went over so so, now that I think about it.

Aw, I wanted to do a St. Patrick's Day somethingsomething because it's my birthday.

bananallanah
May 22nd, 2012, 05:02
Aw, I wanted to do a St. Patrick's Day somethingsomething because it's my birthday.

I wanted to do St Patrick's day somethingsomething because I like to drink.

semicolon
May 22nd, 2012, 13:23
For Canadians coming over: maple syrup, while damn heavy, makes a nice present for the new friends you make or your superior. So does ice wine, many people know about it. You can just get smaller bottles ;). Also, maple cookies are popular.

I got small bottles of ice wine for my supervisor and kocho/kyoto senseis, and that went over really well. Then I kept the rest for myself, because I freaking love ice wine.

WishfulDreamer
July 25th, 2012, 16:16
Thanks for this thread, guys. I was worried because I still don't know how many schools I'll be at, but I'm totally covered for students and JTEs (I already had the coins and stickers and I'm so glad those seem to go over well!). I'm guessing that the principal can have the same gifts as the JTEs and we don't need to worry about rank so much except for our supervisors and BoE? I'm thinking of getting a few extra novelty things from my area just to be prepared.

Eudox
July 25th, 2012, 21:33
Don't get things, get food. Individually wrapped if possible.

Prospective
July 25th, 2012, 21:39
I decided on jars of Tasmanian honey as my "extra" omiyage for my principal, etc.

I think I'd still like to go a little beyond that for the VP (whose house I'm staying at for the first couple of days) and my supervisor (who has been very patient in trying to liaise with my landlord over my exorbitant deposit/ rent fees).

Jiggit
July 26th, 2012, 20:44
It's not like they're going to be all uset that you gave them a gift. We're just saying it's not some Japanese custom as many are led to believe. If you feel particularly grateful or indebted to someone of course a gift is a nice gesture.

Lianwen
July 26th, 2012, 21:20
Heyheyhey. What about omiyage for your fellow sempai ALTs? Birthday Oreos would probably go down pretty well.

Hahaha. J/K. Although, if the two newbs in the next town over brought me a bag of birthday oreos, it would def. endear me to them.

Jiggit
July 26th, 2012, 23:07
Heyheyhey. What about omiyage for your fellow sempai ALTs? Birthday Oreos would probably go down pretty well.

Hahaha. J/K. Although, if the two newbs in the next town over brought me a bag of birthday oreos, it would def. endear me to them.

Saying that you would like someone to bring you food is not that much of a revelation, love.

Lianwen
July 26th, 2012, 23:09
I would like people to bring me food.

Please.

There.

coop52
July 27th, 2012, 11:53
word. Placate your sempais with gifts from foreign lands. I might not haze you if you bring me Oreos or microwave popcorn.

bananallanah
July 27th, 2012, 12:32
Maybe I'll give marmite as omiyage as a New Zealand 'delicacy' say it's best eaten in teaspoons and then film it as people take big mouthfuls.

Jiggit
July 27th, 2012, 14:13
Maybe I'll give marmite as omiyage as a New Zealand 'delicacy' say it's best eaten in teaspoons and then film it as people take big mouthfuls.

They try and make us eat far worse things. I only wish I was swedish so I could bring surstromming and one up their "hohoho foreigners can't eat natto" routine.