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weepinbell
April 27th, 2015, 23:14
Less of a packing thread, more of a thread to throw around ideas for what you're gonna bring to 'represent you/your city/culture'. If anything else, I guess I could kinda be working on this a little during the placement wait, just to feel like I'm doing SOMETHING... I feel like I need to start taking more pictures of my super exciting American life lol. I kinda wanna bring some physical photos or make a little photobook on shutterfly or something. Also gonna invest in some stickers for prizes and bring some American change because what kid doesn't get excited about foreign currency?

I know omiyage is pretty ESID, but I'm kinda curious if anyone has some ideas/has had anything go by really successfully? The only individually packaged thing I can think of is Starburst and that's basically Hi-chew but not as good... I actually really like those pull n' peel twizzlers so maybe that could work?

uthinkimlost?
April 27th, 2015, 23:50
Local color photo books are a good idea. One for your city/county and another for your state is always good.

Stickers are a waste and the tool of the lazy.

Any candy that won't melt in August heat is fine.

Ananasboat
April 27th, 2015, 23:51
Less of a packing thread, more of a thread to throw around ideas for what you're gonna bring to 'represent you/your city/culture'. If anything else, I guess I could kinda be working on this a little during the placement wait, just to feel like I'm doing SOMETHING... I feel like I need to start taking more pictures of my super exciting American life lol. I kinda wanna bring some physical photos or make a little photobook on shutterfly or something. Also gonna invest in some stickers for prizes and bring some American change because what kid doesn't get excited about foreign currency?

I know omiyage is pretty ESID, but I'm kinda curious if anyone has some ideas/has had anything go by really successfully? The only individually packaged thing I can think of is Starburst and that's basically Hi-chew but not as good... I actually really like those pull n' peel twizzlers so maybe that could work?

A lot of fruity American candy gets a sour look from people. It's way too sweet for a lot of people. I even brought Smarties and people were shocked by its revolutionary flavors. If you can find cookies that are individually wrapped, or candy that has a history in your area then go for that. Stay away from chocolate of any kind.

johnny
April 28th, 2015, 00:01
Regarding omiyage, don't put yourself out. The importance of omiyage is overstated quite a lot IMO. It's a nice gesture, but not something that should be a big concern. That said, cheap snacks are probably best. Bring something that is individually wrapped if you can and something that can be shared with everyone in the office. Really, you just want to give people a little something to nibble on with their coffee, nothing more. It'll be summer, so chocolate might not be ideal.

As for what to bring, in my experience the kids don't really care that much about foreign cultures so maybe don't make this a priority either(unless you have something mind-blowingly cool, a hand carved totem pole failed to impress). I think pictures are best. The students that I teach seem much more interested in pictures of my parents' house, my local mall and other things to which they can relate rather than pictures of any big cultural sites.

From what I hear, stickers won't really be appreciated at the SHS level. The kids don't seem to care that much about them at that point. If you're teaching ES and even the first two grades of JHS, they go over pretty well though.

That's just my view though.

weepinbell
April 28th, 2015, 00:06
I feel like every kid I have ever known goes absolutely nuts for stickers... Like am I supposed to handcraft personalized throw pillows for prizes? Lol the only ideas I have for prizes are the standard stickers, erasers, and candy, but if anyone has suggestions that Japanese kids go apeshit for that'd be sweet.


A lot of fruity American candy gets a sour look from people. It's way too sweet for a lot of people. I even brought Smarties and people were shocked by its revolutionary flavors. If you can find cookies that are individually wrapped, or candy that has a history in your area then go for that. Stay away from chocolate of any kind.

yeah definitely have heard chocolate is a big no... I feel like that'd melt all over the place too, not worth it. The only snack thing my city is really known for is Chicago style popcorn (cheese/caramel corn mixed together), and that would just be too difficult to take over. I'm sure they both exist at least individually in Japan though so I could totally just mix it together for a holiday activity or something but obviously that's far off.



The students that I teach seem much more interested in pictures of my parents' house, my local mall and other things to which they can relate rather than pictures of any big cultural sites.

From what I hear, stickers won't really be appreciated at the SHS level. The kids don't seem to care that much about them at that point. If you're teaching ES and even the first two grades of JHS, they go over pretty well though.


I honestly hadn't even thought of taking pictures of my house and stuff actually, thanks.

Yeah obviously maybe not SHS kids lol I was definitely thinking more for the younger kids. But who knows, I've known some high schoolers here who love that kinda stuff, so even if I'm at SHS maybe it'll be something to just keep in my back pocket.

Shincantsen
April 28th, 2015, 00:53
I feel like every kid I have ever known goes absolutely nuts for stickers... Like am I supposed to handcraft personalized throw pillows for prizes? Lol the only ideas I have for prizes are the standard stickers, erasers, and candy, but if anyone has suggestions that Japanese kids go apeshit for that'd be sweet.


Beyond stickers for ES or maybe JHS, there's absolutely no need for prizes at all. You may find that you have 1,000 students and have far too few, or that giving out prizes is not allowed by your school, and anyway you're just bribing your students to participate, which isn't great.

Echoing johnny and saying that for some reason, aspiring JETs always blow omiyage into a huge deal when it really isn't. Just plop a bag of jolly ranchers down in the staff room and forget about it.

DismalBismuth
April 28th, 2015, 01:01
Country themed pencils! My Korean students (which didn't include SHS) loved these. Not necessarily because they had Maple leaves all over, but mostly because they were constantly forgetting to bring pencils. I think having something (even stickers) in your back pocket is never a bad idea. It gives you something extra to do for your introduction lesson, and they are cheap and easy to pack. And yeah, pictures of old Halloween costumes and my hockey team and stuff like that went over well. Maybe don't bring booze as a gift until you know who the recipient . Turns out my Director was part of a Christian group that doesn't drink. So smooth.

BifCarbet
April 28th, 2015, 01:06
Charms that kids can tie on their phones or bags are pretty well-received in high school. Pencils too. I was in two SHS settings for two years, and the girls really liked charms, and things they could use as pieces of flair. Those are good for prizes. You can have a box of them, and any time a kid is deemed worthy of a prize, you can let them pick. Don't try to bring Omiyage for all the staff and all the students, unless your pred. gives you the numbers, and they're manageable.

One winter, I brought liquor-filled chocolates in the shape of bottles of liquor. I attached a note to every piece telling the teachers to eat them at home at night, because they have alcohol.

OH! Those crazy rubber bracelets for the younger kids too.
https://sp.yimg.com/ib/th?id=JN.XUzQRnHgD1l1DQWowaB2HA&pid=15.1&P=0

weepinbell
April 28th, 2015, 01:30
Country themed pencils! My Korean students (which didn't include SHS) loved these. Not necessarily because they had Maple leaves all over, but mostly because they were constantly forgetting to bring pencils. I think having something (even stickers) in your back pocket is never a bad idea. It gives you something extra to do for your introduction lesson, and they are cheap and easy to pack. And yeah, pictures of old Halloween costumes and my hockey team and stuff like that went over well. Maybe don't bring booze as a gift until you know who the recipient . Turns out my Director was part of a Christian group that doesn't drink. So smooth.

Yeah, I've heard some people end up bringing gifts for their supervisors/principal/other important people? I'm sure that's a pred question for if that's even necessary, but I'm kinda curious what people end up bringing for that...



Echoing johnny and saying that for some reason, aspiring JETs always blow omiyage into a huge deal when it really isn't. Just plop a bag of jolly ranchers down in the staff room and forget about it.

Yesss for sure, I've been seeing people go absolutely crazy about it on the FB group (and in my consulate group to which the coordinators literally said calm down lol) and I'm definitely not super concerned about it, I just want something easy to pack... I wouldn't wish jolly ranchers upon anyone though I hate them so much lol. I'll browse for something in the candy aisle before I go, I'm just curious if anyone found something simple/went over well.




OH! Those crazy rubber bracelets for the younger kids too.


I am so glad you mentioned this bc I literally have a supply of like 500 sitting in my closet unopened, don't ask...

Ananasboat
April 28th, 2015, 08:25
There were some ALTs who brought some pretty heavy gifts to their supervisors and stuff, but to me it seemed like too much (think pieces of clothing) . That's the sort of stuff you should stay away from to be honest.

And yeah, bringing omiyage is a bit hit or miss. It's not terribly important (and I realized that there was no way I could give everyone a small thing because there are so many people to gift with my four schools and BOE) and you won't be ostracized for not doing it. I ended eating all my omiyage. No ragrets.

As for stickers, I use them a lot. Surprisingly not in my elementary schools, but only in my JH schools. They have folders where they put stickers for doing things like homework and participating in class and stuff, and generally they like my stickers more than the boring ones the teachers hand out, so that's fun.

My kids all went crazy over pictures of my house. Totally get some nice ones taken, preferably if you can score pictures in different seasons (like, guys, there are four seasons where I come from too).

johnny
April 28th, 2015, 08:31
Vancouver has two seasons. 3 months of the nicest summer weather in the world, and the 9 month rainy season.

BifCarbet
April 28th, 2015, 08:33
Settled. I'm marrying a Canuck and starting a new life in Vancouver.

Jiggit
April 28th, 2015, 09:49
Yeah, I've heard some people end up bringing gifts for their supervisors/principal/other important people? I'm sure that's a pred question for if that's even necessary, but I'm kinda curious what people end up bringing for that...

This is such a pet peeve of mine that I'm thinking of making a sticky post about it. The idea that you bring individual gifts for important people is not what Japanese gift culture is about and I have no idea where it came from. Whichever ALTs perpetuate it have managed to live in Japan for year(s) and not understood one of the most basic aspects of Japanese work culture.

"Omiyage" means bringing some kind of snack, individually wrapped, in quantites enough for more or less every teacher to have one. Japan's tourism is geared around this and you can buy about 10 different kinds of "local delicacy" at any train station. Generally people bring them when they go on a trip to somewhere, or when they have done something they feel like they have to "make up" for, like being sick or having a baby (don't ask).

Bringing individual gifts for your Principal etc is at best meaningless and at worse kind of insulting to everyone else at your workplace. They'll probably just assume it's some weird gaijin tradition. Giving gifts because you're a new employee isn't even a thing here tbh, but if you did want to bring something, bring individually wrapped sweets of some kind from your local area or just your country.

Satori Shinobi
April 28th, 2015, 10:17
I brought 4 1-lbs packages of coffee from my hometown to share with the English office. They complimented me on my taste in coffee, I drank a good amount of the coffee, it was win-win. I continue to bring in premium coffee. My advice is to bring some sort of consumable (unless you got some premium swank), as I think that most people have too much stuff as is.

Jiggit
April 28th, 2015, 10:19
That's actually really smart.

Ananasboat
April 28th, 2015, 10:22
Yeah, I'm actually planning on bringing a bunch of coffee to one of my schools. They pour me cups all day and it's really husky tasting. So it's a tad self serving, but also I just feel like they deserve something for all the coffee they've given me.

acpc2203
April 28th, 2015, 10:22
My hometown is a big Japanese tourist destination, would bringing two free guidebooks (One in English, the other in Japanese) be a good idea? Otherwise was just going to bring some pictures and candy.

johnny
April 28th, 2015, 10:31
I bought gifts for my JTEs, but I did it on the sly.

Ananasboat
April 28th, 2015, 10:42
My hometown is a big Japanese tourist destination, would bringing two free guidebooks (One in English, the other in Japanese) be a good idea? Otherwise was just going to bring some pictures and candy.

I can't see the guidebooks being a bad idea, but I do see them getting tossed if they're sitting out. If people know you're from a high Japanese tourist area they may want to ask you lots of questions about the town. Learn your history.

sourdoughsushi
April 28th, 2015, 10:51
I second the notions of bringing local tea or coffee. Most regions have their own special mixes, and it's something light and cheap you can take that also allows coworkers to go for it at their own paces. Very easy, little pressure for all involved, and appreciated.

Libellule
April 28th, 2015, 11:08
A note about prizes - you can get so much amazing stuff at 100 yen shops here, so it's not worth bringing over unless it is something you couldn't buy in Japan (like stickers of your country's flag/landmarks or something).

moonbeam
April 28th, 2015, 11:40
Ugh, I've been actively taking outdoor pictures to show the seasons but yesterday I accidentally deleted the entire photo album off my phone. So there goes that...Oh well.

Gizmotech
April 28th, 2015, 11:42
Chiming in again... Omiyage is unnecessary, and not expected. It will always be hit or miss, and not worth your time to worry about. If you really wanna thank your supervisor, buy them a couple of drinks in September when they're finished helping you with your basics.

Also "stuff to represent your country", the only thing I regret not bringing was money. Otherwise all the crap I DID bring with me I never ever used.

BifCarbet
April 28th, 2015, 12:00
Omiyage is unnecessary

I wouldn't go that far. The whole, "Hi Mr. Principal, I'm Biffon from Quebec. Nice to meet you. I brought you a Province of Quebec promotional jacket, a bottle of maple syrup, and some Canadian whiskey. I also brought sugar cookies for the other teachers. Yoroshk." thing which I think you're talking about is pretty unnecessary, and I wouldn't do it.
Omiyage after you've been there for a while is a good thing. If you visit the Sapporo Snow Festival, bring back some White Lovers. No reason not to extend some olive branches and be a cool person, especially to the people who talk to you. Treat them like they're your colleagues and friends.

Jiggit
April 28th, 2015, 12:17
Oh yeah, you should definitely bring omiyage from places in Japan, they'll appreciate it.

johnny
April 28th, 2015, 12:32
Justin you didn't put your dick in a box, did you?

You're supposed to be the mature one here Andrew Dice Clay...and no. That's fortunate in most cases.

Gizmotech
April 28th, 2015, 13:18
I wouldn't go that far. The whole, "Hi Mr. Principal, I'm Biffon from Quebec. Nice to meet you. I brought you a Province of Quebec promotional jacket, a bottle of maple syrup, and some Canadian whiskey. I also brought sugar cookies for the other teachers. Yoroshk." thing which I think you're talking about is pretty unnecessary, and I wouldn't do it.
Omiyage after you've been there for a while is a good thing. If you visit the Sapporo Snow Festival, bring back some White Lovers. No reason not to extend some olive branches and be a cool person, especially to the people who talk to you. Treat them like they're your colleagues and friends.

Exactly, the "HI I'M NOOB" omiyage is unnecessary and will likely be ignored at worst, curiously turned off at best.


Oh yeah, you should definitely bring omiyage from places in Japan, they'll appreciate it.

Word. Travelling omiyage goes over GREAT. Doesn't matter if it has the texture of concrete and the flavor of licking a dogs ass, they'll always love it superficially and say thanks properly :)

richief_611
April 28th, 2015, 14:21
Less of a packing thread, more of a thread to throw around ideas for what you're gonna bring to 'represent you/your city/culture'. If anything else, I guess I could kinda be working on this a little during the placement wait, just to feel like I'm doing SOMETHING... I feel like I need to start taking more pictures of my super exciting American life lol. I kinda wanna bring some physical photos or make a little photobook on shutterfly or something. Also gonna invest in some stickers for prizes and bring some American change because what kid doesn't get excited about foreign currency?

I know omiyage is pretty ESID, but I'm kinda curious if anyone has some ideas/has had anything go by really successfully? The only individually packaged thing I can think of is Starburst and that's basically Hi-chew but not as good... I actually really like those pull n' peel twizzlers so maybe that could work?

The best things you could prepare are pictures and lots of them. Obviously, if you have anything you’ve made and are proud of, bring that too. Do bring stickers, but I don’t recommend any coins. My city is very strict about giving “presents” or prizes in class, so the most I can give out are stickers. I ended up bringing a bunch of US coins but never gave them to any students. It was just wasted weight in my luggage when I came to Japan.

I was actually also pointed out that I shouldn’t give any stickers to my students at one of my schools. Apparently, it was not so good that I gave it to them. So when you do give stickers, make sure to have both the kyoutou-sensei’s (VP), and all of the homeroom teachers’ permissions.

Along these lines, giving any kind of food to students is a DEFINITE NO. And candy wouldn’t really be suitable to give to teachers or staff as omiage. I’d go for chocolates, nuts, or something pre-packaged. Pop Tarts would be really good, granola bars, cereal, coffee, crackers, or chips would be good too. Post cards, bookmarks, and pictures would be nice too.

I think omiage is absolutely unnecessary. I stressed over omiage for weeks before I left to Japan. But I ended up with 9 schools, so more than half of my schools wouldn’t get anything anyway, so I ended up not giving anything at all. Later on, when I went on a trip, that’s when I got them something. So if you are just entering as a new ALT, there’s no need for omiage. Save that space to pack more clothes!

But even when you go on a trip, you don’t really need to tell them too, because if you do, that means you need to give them omiage. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars buying omiage for my teachers and staff over the years, so I now try to be quiet when I do go on trips, or don’t give them anything even if I do tell them I’m going somewhere.

Jiggit
April 28th, 2015, 14:30
I was actually also pointed out that I shouldn’t give any stickers to my students at one of my schools. Apparently, it was big not good that I gave it to them. So when you do give stickers, make sure to have both the kyoutou-sensei’s (VP), and all of the homeroom teachers’ permissions.

What? Did you ever get any reason for that?


Along these lines, giving any kind of food to students is a DEFINITE NO. And candy wouldn’t really be suitable to give to teachers or staff as omiage. I’d go for chocolates, nuts, or something pre-packaged. Pop Tarts would be really good, granola bars, cereal, coffee, crackers, or chips would be good too. Post cards, bookmarks, and pictures would be nice too.

I give my students food all the time. That really is one of those things you're best off asking your pred about.

Also I don't know why candy isn't appropriate. Teachers at my work give each other candy all the time.


I think omiage is absolutely unnecessary. I stressed over omiage for weeks before I left to Japan. But I ended up with 9 schools, so more than half of my schools wouldn’t get anything anyway, so I ended up not giving anything at all. Later on, when I went on a trip, that’s when I got them something. So if you are just entering as a new ALT, there’s no need for omiage. Save that space to pack more clothes!

Good point, omiyage for schools when you have a bunch is too much. And yeah, it's not necessary, it's just something nice you can do if you want to.

sourdoughsushi
April 28th, 2015, 14:33
Pop Tarts sound like a good way to trick teachers into never ever going to America.

Apollo87
April 28th, 2015, 14:40
I think pictures are best. The students that I teach seem much more interested in pictures of my parents' house, my local mall and other things to which they can relate rather than pictures of any big cultural sites.

From what I hear, stickers won't really be appreciated at the SHS level. The kids don't seem to care that much about them at that point. If you're teaching ES and even the first two grades of JHS, they go over pretty well though.



Pictures are great. I used to pull my phone out to show students pictures of friends/family/life back home but that felt like a bit of a faux-pas even though I haven't been reprimanded for it. Students are sometimes more interested in the latest iphone (and what games I've got installed) than the pictures I'm showing.

So I simply got a whole bunch of pictures printed at a local printing place and put them in a photo album. I show students the pictures between classes and during lunch break. And not just pictures of back home, but of things I do during the weekend and places I visit. Pictures are really great for connecting with your students (and just anyone you meet actually). I've got multiple albums saved on my phone of different topics and it comes in really handy during enkais, social events, first dates, etc.


Stickers are great for ES and JHS, especially if you tie it to some sort of point card system. Even better if they can be redeemed for goodies at the end of the semester.

uthinkimlost?
April 28th, 2015, 14:43
I used to pull my phone out to show students pictures of friends/family/life back home but that felt like a bit of a faux-pas even though I haven't been reprimanded for it. Students are sometimes more interested in the latest iphone (and what games I've got installed) than the pictures I'm showing.
Yeah, this is a BIG no-no, and could actually get the homeroom teacher in it deep. Students aren't allowed to have phones out, and teachers aren't allowed to have phones out in front of students, especially those dangerous sumaho.

johnny
April 28th, 2015, 14:47
I give my students food all the time. That really is one of those things you're best off asking your pred about.

I think that all JHSs in my prefecture have strict rules against giving the students any food. I would be surprised if this weren't the case in most chuugakkous.


Also I don't know why candy isn't appropriate. Teachers at my work give each other candy all the time.

Don't they complain about British candy being to sweet?



Good point, omiyage for schools when you have a bunch is too much. And yeah, it's not necessary, it's just something nice you can do if you want to.

Word to both of you.


Pop Tarts sound like a good way to trick teachers into never ever going to America.

Ha ha.

Jiggit
April 28th, 2015, 14:49
Don't they complain about British candy being to sweet?

I said teachers give each other candy.

Ananasboat
April 28th, 2015, 15:23
TBF, I pull out my phone from time to time to show pictures. Haven't been yelled at, but I can see the looks a couple of the teachers give me. That's only when I have it out for pictures though. When I bring it out to find something in the dictionaries the teachers LOVE it. They're super bipolar about the whole smartphone thing at my schools.

But yeah, I've been told American candy is too sweet. I got used to the polite faces enough to never want to share ever again. Not going to lie, but poptarts sound like an awful idea not only because they're bad on a foreign tongue, but they're also way too BIG for individual teachers and there are only something like six or eight in a package. Have fun bringing 30 boxes of poptarts to Japan.

richief_611
April 28th, 2015, 15:23
What? Did you ever get any reason for that?

I give my students food all the time. That really is one of those things you're best off asking your pred about.

Also I don't know why candy isn't appropriate. Teachers at my work give each other candy all the time.

Good point, omiyage for schools when you have a bunch is too much. And yeah, it's not necessary, it's just something nice you can do if you want to.

The reason was just because it disrupted the class and since the students were already having a fun and good time, giving out stickers wasn’t a good idea. This is only at one of my schools, not my other 6 schools. There are other ALTs in my city that give out stickers all the time without any problems though.

Really!? I wish I was able to give food to my students. I’ve heard my city is one of the strictest ones in Japan, so maybe that’s why. I guess this must be a ESID kind of thing then.

I CAN’T:
-take pictures
-give food to my students
-talk to or mingle with students outside of school
-use flash drives at the school
Etc…

Jiggit
April 28th, 2015, 15:32
The reason was just because it disrupted the class and since the students were already having a fun and good time, giving out stickers wasn’t a good idea. This is only at one of my schools, not my other 6 schools. There are other ALTs in my city that give out stickers all the time without any problems though.

I guess so, but that seems more of a "quick discussion after class" thing than a "dragged in front of the VP" thing.


Really!? I wish I was able to give food to my students. I’ve heard my city is one of the most strict ones in Japan, so maybe that’s why. I guess this must be a ESID kind of thing then.

As Johnny pointed out, I think it's mostly JHS that is strict about it.


I CAN’T:
-take pictures
-give food to my students
-talk to or mingle with students outside of school
-use flash drives at the school
Etc…

Taking pictures of students makes sense. Social media risks and all that. Talking to students outside of school... what? Like you aren't allowed to say hello to them or you aren't allowed to hang out with them? The latter makes sense, the former seems impossible. Not being allowed to use flash drives is pretty common, I believe. We're allowed to use school certified ones, so I have the one that belongs to English club.

richief_611
April 28th, 2015, 15:41
Taking pictures of students makes sense. Social media risks and all that. Talking to students outside of school... what? Like you aren't allowed to say hello to them or you aren't allowed to hang out with them? The latter makes sense, the former seems impossible. Not being allowed to use flash drives is pretty common, I believe. We're allowed to use school certified ones, so I have the one that belongs to English club.


The most we can do is say “Hello”. Maybe a few questions here or there, but that’ it. We’re told we aren’t allowed to have any contact with students outside of school, so if we do run into them, we can only say “Hello” and then we have to try to go the other way.

Ebi
April 28th, 2015, 15:58
Weird. The JHSs in my city also are strict about uploading photos; using flash drives, phones, or iPads; and giving candy/food to students, but I've never heard anything about banning out of school interaction.

That said, the idea of socializing with preteen/teen students out of school doesn't appeal to me. I worry about ALTs who add students on Facebook and LINE. I feel like you need to tread that line very carefully.

Personally, I second the recommendation to bring lots and lots of photos. I took photos of a wide variety of buildings (bank, supermarket, school, etc.); rooms inside my family home; local food, animals, and landmarks; friends, family, and pets; holiday items; and anything else I could think of that might be useful. I use these photos for my self-intro lessons, but they also work for other topics.

It's also useful to have copies of some things on my phone so when I'm chatting in Japanese, I have a visual aide if something is hard to explain. Basic self-intro photos are handy too since you'll be asked a ton of questions about yourself and your home life.

I agree that omiyage aren't really necessary. You'll probably arrive around the Obon holidays, which means few teachers will be around anyways. Giving treats after you travel works much better.

Jiggit
April 28th, 2015, 16:06
The most we can do is say “Hello”. Maybe a few questions here or there, but that’ it. We’re told we aren’t allowed to have any contact with students outside of school, so if we do run into them, we can only say “Hello” and then we have to try to go the other way.

Sounds like something happened in the past with an ALT and students tbh...

johnny
April 28th, 2015, 17:33
I said teachers give each other candy.

I reckon they do from time to time, but they probably have their own crazy candy that is made for Japanese taste. Western candy is too sweet for Japanese taste!

As for interacting with students. It never really comes up anyway. In two years I've one kid who was a particularly strong English student sit down while I was having a coffee. I chatted with him for about 15 minutes, but that was the most I've ever interacted with a student outside of a non-school organized event.

Other than that, it's just been hellos and such. They take pictures of me when I'm jogging. I'm sure there are dozens of photos of me on some weird Japanese photo-sharing site.

uthinkimlost?
April 28th, 2015, 17:44
I reckon they do from time to time, but they probably have their own crazy candy that is made for Japanese taste. Western candy is too sweet for Japanese taste!

As for interacting with students. It never really comes up anyway. In two years I've one kid who was a particularly strong English student sit down while I was having a coffee. I chatted with him for about 15 minutes, but that was the most I've ever interacted with a student outside of a non-school organized event.

Other than that, it's just been hellos and such. They take pictures of me when I'm jogging. I'm sure there are dozens of photos of me on some weird Japanese photo-sharing site.

外人ランドウエ―ルのブログ?

johnny
April 28th, 2015, 17:47
Ha ha. Maybe. As much as I exercise, that's still how they see me.

BifCarbet
April 29th, 2015, 00:57
I took photos of a wide variety of buildings (bank, supermarket, school, etc.)
That's a really good idea.

weepinbell
April 29th, 2015, 01:35
Thanks for all the suggestions for photos, I seriously wouldn't have even thought to do a lot of that stuff. Did you guys just take em with your phone and have them printed? I don't have a camera lol, just my smart phone. Debating between getting an old school photo binder or making a little self-intro kinda book on shutterfly or a similar website cause I'm into kitchy stuff like that, I'll be real...

Shincantsen
April 29th, 2015, 01:51
Thanks for all the suggestions for photos, I seriously wouldn't have even thought to do a lot of that stuff. Did you guys just take em with your phone and have them printed? I don't have a camera lol, just my smart phone. Debating between getting an old school photo binder or making a little self-intro kinda book on shutterfly or a similar website cause I'm into kitchy stuff like that, I'll be real...

I think phone-taken photos would be fine, they don't need to be super high quality. For my photos, I printed some of them out on letter-size paper, so I could show them to the class during my self-intro. If you're given a bulletin board at school that'd be a great place to put them. I also like the idea of a photo book, either old school or shutterfly-style.

BifCarbet
April 29th, 2015, 03:57
Shutterfly books are great to put on a table to let people look through when they feel like it. I wouldn't recommend them for your self-intro lessons, though, because only one or two people can look at a time. I would send around a bunch of pictures so that everyone was looking at different pictures at the same time.

Ebi
April 29th, 2015, 08:04
I would take digital copies of photos with you rather than wasting precious luggage space. I printed some at school if I needed to, but mostly I organized them into slide-shows and showed them via computer/TV. But I'm placed at a school with a decent amount of technology. Ask your pred if you have computer access. If not, then you might want to have some photos printed but you can do that once you get here.

Edit: Oh, speaking of photos. I also brought my school ID cards and year books from my own JHS days. If you have the luggage space, those can be good tools for students to discover more about what school is like in your home country. I challenged students to find my picture.

uthinkimlost?
April 29th, 2015, 08:53
I would take digital copies of photos with you rather than wasting precious luggage space. I printed some at school if I needed to.... But I'm placed at a school with a decent amount of technology. Ask your pred if you have computer access. If not, then you might want to have some photos printed but you can do that once you get here.

Even if you have computer access, odds are good you won't be allowed to color print.

Jiggit
April 29th, 2015, 10:56
Eh, they'll probably let you access the color printer if you need it for a lesson. If not then you can and probably should print them on your own dime.

Ebi
April 29th, 2015, 11:00
Oh yeah, I should have been more clear. I only printed a handful of pictures and only if they were directly related to a lesson and it made sense to have copies in hand rather than just show them on a TV screen. An album isn't a bad idea, but you'd have to pass it around since it won't be visible from the front of a classroom. So I'd wait to hear about your school's situation from your pred before you start printing anything.

I don't think it's terribly expensive to make a photo book/album in Japan after you arrive and you'll probably have a better idea of what photos you want to print once you see the cultural differences for yourself (assuming you haven't already been to Japan).

johnny
April 29th, 2015, 11:35
If your Japanese is fair and you can make your way through the instructions, the quality of pictures you get at 7-11 is pretty damn good. You can print pictures using your phone.

Jiggit
April 29th, 2015, 11:59
If your Japanese is fair and you can make your way through the instructions, the quality of pictures you get at 7-11 is pretty damn good. You can print pictures using your phone.

Or just change the language settings to "English" :lol:

johnny
April 29th, 2015, 12:37
Or just change the language settings to "English" :lol:

Unless it's changed, I don't think the iPhone app has English settings.

Jiggit
April 29th, 2015, 13:44
The printer has English settings though, so if it's a trouble for you just stick the photos on a storage device and plug it in.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 30th, 2015, 08:54
Random thoughts on topics I've seen floated on this thread so far:

Omiyage: Yes, bring omiyage from your hometown / country for your co-workers and principals. However, it's not something to freak out about trying to find the perfect omiyage. I've seen way too many outbound JETs freak out about what they're going to give. Something small like a candy or a postcard is fine. I brought tiered presents - local tea and Reese's peanut butter cups for all my office co-workers, post cards for the higher ups in the office and my principals, and then little decorative spoons with the California bear on the end for the section chief and my direct supervisor.

I strongly disagree with some people here who have been asserting that you don't need to - you do. But it's not because Japanese people really want presents - it's more because there's a precedence for it thanks to your predecessors and other ALTs, and precedence is everything in Japan. If you don't it's not like they're going to hate you, but it is rude. Best I can relate it to is like showing up to a potluck without a dish, or a house party without bringing some beer / wine. Sure, you can show up empty handed and eat and drink there, and maybe some people won't care. But others may see that and think "Well that's a little rude." It's basically that. On top of just doing what's expected of you, giving omiyage also gives you an opportunity to talk to people you may not normally interact with. At your office or in the teacher's room there will be people who will have nothing to do with you; giving them omiyage is a nice way to break the ice. Plus if it's from America then you're getting a little bit of cultural exchange in there as well - give them some candy or tea or something that they really like and there's one more small exchange that has just improved their outlook on America. Finally, it's just a nice gesture. Wouldn't you think it was neat if someone from Japan came to work temporarily with you and brought you a little something from Japan?

Photos: Photos are great. If you have the space you can bring them over, but paper is heavy. I'd just bring them digitally and then print them out in Japan. You'll be able to use the printer at your school or office - if it's not color, you can always go to a convenient store and print color there for relatively cheap. Schools should also have a laminater lying around somewhere - I laminated all of my pictures and was able to reuse them for all 3 years. I also recommend printing and laminating them so you can pass them around.

Most schools now have giant TVs that you can use if you ask your teachers. I would connect my iPhone to the TV via a cable and show pictures and videos and music in nearly every class. Your mileage with that may very, but it's a great resource that you should use if possible.

As for using phones in a classroom, it's true that phone usage during inappropriate times tends to be looked down upon in Japan, especially in schools. Most if not all public schools in Japan have a ban on students owning phones until they're in high school (of course, the students whose parents don't follow that restriction always brag about it to their friends). That said, if you use an iPad or something to show the whole class pictures, that's probably okay. To the teachers what isn't okay is to show your phone to only a few kids - I don't know if it's because they assume you're playing games or are afraid of technology or what, but that's generally their approach. Again, your mileage may vary with each teacher - younger ones might not care so much as older ones.

Food for Students: This'll also vary from school to school. I believe that for K-9 schools don't allow students to bring food to school, even snacks, so giving students food without the permission of the teacher might not fly. That said, I did trick-or-treating at 11 schools with over 2,000 students and didn't have any issues giving out Dumdums to each kid. I didn't confirm with the teachers beforehand but none of my teachers raised any objections. Most, if not all, told the students to put the candy in their bags and save it for after school - a policy that most American elementary school teachers probably also would have implemented. Kids do cooking classes though and often will bring you something that they've cooked in Home Ec, so it's not like the concept of eating food outside of their hot lunches is foreign. As for a high school, I'm not really sure what their general policy is on snacks, since I've never worked at one. I know of some ALTs at single schools who have talked about baking goods for all their students, though, so it's not like it's impossible, but you'd probably want to ask permission first.

Another good way to share food with your students is to hold an American cooking class one day after school. I was approached by one of my elementary school students to lead an "American Home Party" cooking class. About 20 kids and their mothers joined me after school in the Home Ec room to make PB&Js, cheese and crackers, celery and carrot sticks, and bake peanut butter cookies.

Prizes for Kids: Elementary school kids do indeed love stickers. A lot of them have sticker albums where they put all the stickers they've collected. A lot of Japanese games play off of this fascination of stickers - if you're a gamer, you can probably think of at least one JRPG or Japanese game where there was a sticker element in it. I personally found the older the kids got, the less interested they were in stickers. My JHS first years still appreciated them, but by their second and third year, they were pretty much over it, save a handful of kids who got excited at anything. I can only imagine that most HS kids are over it as well. Eventually I switched to giving out pennies and all my extra English Pokemon cards. Those went over REALLY well, and I highly recommend it. One dollar makes a hundred kids happy, and the Pokemon cards (or Yu-gi-Oh or whatever) are cool because they're in English. I never had any issue with giving them out.

BifCarbet
April 30th, 2015, 09:33
I strongly disagree with some people here who have been asserting that you don't need to - you do. But it's not because Japanese people really want presents - it's more because there's a precedence for it thanks to your predecessors and other ALTs, and precedence is everything in Japan.

I know you're a coordinator, so you have info that we don't about the program itself and some processes, but I don't think you're right about this. It's not so black and white. The predecessor will be able to give better info about what has been done in the past, but my main thought is this: there are other ways to gain favor than bringing gifts. If you are friendly, stay late at the beginning, and show a serious effort to acquaint yourself with people in your work environment, you can make a great impression. The people new ALTs will be working with are not robots who will deem them negative entities if they don't bring gifts. They will use other criteria to determine how they feel about them.

I did not take gifts when I started, but did a lot to make good impressions, and was well-liked. Not bringing snacks or candy is not something that's going to injure relationships in general, though there may be some people who are hoping to get something from you because of past experiences, and go, "Damn. I wanted chocolate."


Best I can relate it to is like showing up to a potluck without a dish, or a house party without bringing some beer / wine.

That's not true. Showing up to a pot luck with no food would be more comparable to collecting a salary and going to the school but refusing to engage in classroom activities. Not bringing omiyage would be like showing up at the pot luck and stepping onto the tatami with your shoes on, then stepping back and taking them off.

johnny
April 30th, 2015, 11:19
I agree with SFC that you should bring something. I mean, it's really as easy as what he did, Reese's Peanut butter cups.

It's just not something that you should agonize over and definitely not something that should cost an arm and a leg.

Jiggit
April 30th, 2015, 11:27
I think it's pretty obvious that it would be a nice gesture and good for all sorts of reasons. It's also easy enough to go and get some Japanese omiyage after the first trip you take. When I've brought sweets from home, people respond pretty weakly, when I bring stuff from another prefecture in Japan they're all smiles. I'm just saying if you're struggling to make space or think of what to buy, don't feel like it's a necessity.

Also I disagree about the precedence thing though. I highly doubt they'd remember what the last ALT did a few weeks back, never mind a few years. Also all the staff I initially gave gifts to, the Principal, VPs and JTEs, have been rotated out since I got here.

johnny
April 30th, 2015, 11:32
Yeah, there are two sides to this debate. Where I can relate to Jiggit is that the teachers with whom I teach get way more excited about treats from elsewhere in Japan than treats from Canada.

I do think it's nice to give them a little something when you arrive though. Anyway, talk to your Pred. He or she will probably know better than us what you should do.

If you're a one-shot alt with over ten schools for example, I'd just get treats for your BOE.

Gizmotech
April 30th, 2015, 12:41
I figure that I brought my A-Game, and that omiyage enough.

patjs
May 1st, 2015, 05:45
Random thoughts on topics I've seen floated on this thread so far:

Omiyage: Yes, bring omiyage from your hometown / country for your co-workers and principals. However, it's not something to freak out about trying to find the perfect omiyage. I've seen way too many outbound JETs freak out about what they're going to give. Something small like a candy or a postcard is fine. I brought tiered presents - local tea and Reese's peanut butter cups for all my office co-workers, post cards for the higher ups in the office and my principals, and then little decorative spoons with the California bear on the end for the section chief and my direct supervisor.

I strongly disagree with some people here who have been asserting that you don't need to - you do. But it's not because Japanese people really want presents - it's more because there's a precedence for it thanks to your predecessors and other ALTs, and precedence is everything in Japan. If you don't it's not like they're going to hate you, but it is rude. Best I can relate it to is like showing up to a potluck without a dish, or a house party without bringing some beer / wine.

And I strongly disagree with this. I'm not sure your average supervisor/principal is going to remember anything but the previous ALT's name (even that is a stretch several months out), let alone whatever snack or candy previous ALTs brought that the Japanese all likely hated.

I have Japanese family/friends/coworkers and I'll let everyone in on a little secret- they generally find a lot of western candy and snacks revolting. They'll appreciate the gesture but probably will not like what you give them.

I wouldn't waste any time or money on any food. I certainly don't think your supervisor or principal is expecting that you show up the first day with bags of gifts for them.

I'd focus more on your intro lesson. The kids will go apeshit over pictures or video, and stickers.

naginataonthebrain
May 1st, 2015, 05:48
What do Japanese people think about nuts? I was thinking about bringing some candied pecans over. Or some pistachios.

patjs
May 1st, 2015, 05:53
I think nuts would be fine, although you can get them in Japan.

I'd stay way from any candy.

Shincantsen
May 1st, 2015, 05:59
I think part of the appeal of bringing candy from abroad is that it's "weird" and they might not like it. Half the fun is handing them a jolly rancher and watching them spit it out and talk about how sweet it is for two weeks.

uthinkimlost?
May 1st, 2015, 06:02
What do Japanese people think about nuts? I was thinking about bringing some candied pecans over. Or some pistachios.

Pecans are actually hard to find in my Japan, as are Brazil nuts. Might work well.

patjs
May 1st, 2015, 06:23
I think part of the appeal of bringing candy from abroad is that it's "weird" and they might not like it. Half the fun is handing them a jolly rancher and watching them spit it out and talk about how sweet it is for two weeks.

It's certainly fun now but I think as a new JET I would have been pretty shocked when everyone was spitting out all the stuff I lugged over :lol:

Virgil
May 1st, 2015, 07:44
Pecans are actually hard to find in my Japan, as are Brazil nuts. Might work well.
I almost brought pecans from my trees at home, but it turned out to be a ton of work. I'm allergic to that sht.

uthinkimlost?
May 1st, 2015, 08:12
I almost brought pecans from my trees at home, but it turned out to be a ton of work. I'm allergic to that sht.

Don't think that is legal, anyway.

Virgil
May 1st, 2015, 08:52
Don't think that is legal, anyway.

Yeah, I thought about that and gave up on the idea pretty quickly. I didn't bring anything and things were just fine ( I think? ) Bringing special gifts would have done nothing for me in the long run (except gift me warm feelings in my heart) since the majority of people who have a direct impact on me were changed out.

Aqua
May 1st, 2015, 13:59
I may have unknowingly smuggled in pecan pralines. They were easy to make (and to make small), local, and the tourist shop said they were popular. I absolutely over-worried about something special to get JTEs, principals, BOE guy I'll never see again, etc. That was in my state's JET packet, and it was the one monster crap piece of advice. I probably would have given up on everything except my main school if I had more than 3, too. Anyway, my experience was to definitely do something, but keep it simple. And then follow it up with Japanese omiyage from your travels.

Digital pictures are the way to go (as others have said, stuff your intro with them). If there are enough photos, you could bring a little photobook to use as part of an English board - rotate them with the board. That's all I can think of that a physical album would be useful for, though. If you go for stickers, get awesome ones! (And only for ES and JH, as others have suggested.) Cats and comic book characters have gone over really well. I actually have to get more cats, because everybody is taking those.

Does foreign change make a good prize? I don't like bribing, either, but I think the occasional surprise prize is useful and was wondering about this. I've only heard a few people mention it.

greyjoy
May 1st, 2015, 14:50
I really enjoy giving out omiyage here after trips. The expense and hassle of carrying it is nothing compared to the benefits. But really, I can't imagine I would have made even a slightly different impression if I had stuffed a bag of starlight mints in my luggage for my 100+ teachers. There's really not a whole lot of things that are cheap, small, and capable of surviving Tokyo items that will be received well by your teachers.

None of my new teachers brought omiyage in April. It's not custom. Even though you're coming from a different place, it wasn't a vacation, and you're not disappointing anyone by not bringing souvenirs. Plus, even aside from the numbers, it gets out of hand too easily. Some people who came with me brought omiyage for the mayor and the governor. Right now, some halfwit is probably making a macaroni art piece for Shinzo Abe-dono himself.

Some people bring liquor for their principals. That's not necessary, some might say, but what if there's a precedent? Do you want to be the idiot new teacher who failed to properly ingratiate themselves by not properly feeding their administrations' alcoholism. The whole business is a farce.

Go to the neighboring prefecture during Obon, and bring back omiyage from there. Problem solved.

Virgil
May 1st, 2015, 16:04
Right now, some halfwit is probably making a macaroni art piece for Shinzo Abe-dono himself.

This is funny. It's just not that ridiculous.

acpc2203
May 5th, 2015, 02:55
I was wondering about the carry on limit. Is it how the airlines do it (one carry on bag plus a backpack/purse ect...) or is it just one bag total for carry on?

Shincantsen
May 5th, 2015, 03:44
I was wondering about the carry on limit. Is it how the airlines do it (one carry on bag plus a backpack/purse ect...) or is it just one bag total for carry on?

It's whatever policy the airlines have, so generally one carry on plus a personal bag.

acpc2203
May 5th, 2015, 04:16
It's whatever policy the airlines have, so generally one carry on plus a personal bag.
Alright that is good to hear.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
May 5th, 2015, 06:06
Airline luggage policy may change from Consulate to Consulate, as it depends on what airline the travel agency books for us. Keep your fingers crossed for two free checked bags, but it may only be one. You get that + a carry on + a personal item.

As for omiyage, people are right that your omiyage is not necessarily going to make a big impact. However, I do think that the gesture is polite, and at roughly ~25 cents for a Reese's peanut butter cup or a postcard, it's fairly inexpensive. Also, I think it's more about how you take advantage of giving omiyage, rather than the omiyage itself. For example, you could walk around the office when no one is in and leave an omiyage on their desk. They might thank you in the hallway for it, or they might just not say anything, and that's it. Or you could go up to someone in your office, give them the omiyage, and use it as an icebreaker into a conversation. Could you go up and just say "Hi, I'm XYZ, nice to meet you" and not need any omiyage? Certainly. But for a lot of us, icebreakers are nice, and if you don't speak fluent enough Japanese to hold down a conversation, a small pleasant exchange over the postcard or candy with extremely basic Japanese and English could be nice. In our role as JETs trying to assimilate into our new Japanese office and environment, I think that can really help, especially for those new to Japan. For those JETs who are more comfortable with Japanese society and culture, they may not need that assistance to fit in, but I still think it's a polite gesture.

I'd also recommend bringing some extra omiyage from America to use as presents in the future. This isn't a necessity, but again, just something to do as a nice human being. In my office there two ladies who really helped the four of us ALTs - they drove us around to get all our initial stuff, helped us with mail that we couldn't figure out, helped us when we were sick, etc. They were like our big sister / mother figures of the office. I was more than happy to give them some things I had brought from America later on as gifts of gratitude. I also gave some of my extra t-shirts and postcards to Japanese friends that I made and to bar owners that I befriended.

One time I got into a verbal fight with the owner of a bar that I went to a lot. Long story short, there was some miscommunication over price and policy. In the end the owner relented and let me pay the lower price, but afterwards I felt bad having damaged our relationship, especially because I really liked the staff at that bar. I took an extra postcard that I had brought, wrote an apology on the back, included the money that I owed, and left it in front of the door that next day when they were closed. About a week later I went back to the bar with some friends. The owner came up to me and thanked me for the apology. He pointed to the top shelf behind the bar where he had put my postcard on display (the image of Santa Cruz, not the apology I wrote haha). He kept it there for 2 more years until I left; as far as I know, it's still there. Although I think he would have been moved to receive an apology on a Japanese postcard, I don't think he would have displayed it on the mantle right in front.

I think in the end, in the case of JETs arriving to their COs, omiyage may not always help, but it can't hurt!

BifCarbet
May 5th, 2015, 12:49
Good stuff, SF. I think that's all good insight.

x_stei
May 7th, 2015, 14:24
While re-reading thisjapaneselife.org for some other thing, I remembered that the guy also wrote about what he packed...

On Suitcases | 荷物 | This Japanese Life. (http://thisjapaneselife.org/2010/07/23/on-suitcases-%E8%8D%B7%E7%89%A9/)

acpc2203
May 7th, 2015, 15:30
While re-reading thisjapaneselife.org for some other thing, I remembered that the guy also wrote about what he packed...

On Suitcases | 荷物 | This Japanese Life. (http://thisjapaneselife.org/2010/07/23/on-suitcases-%E8%8D%B7%E7%89%A9/)
That is some insane over packing. I also like that he didn't pack any shorts despite going to Japan in the summer. The clothes thing is really overblown unless you are fat or taller than 6' 3" (~1.9m). Though I found the combination of the massive amount of omiyage and hipster stuff (40 rolls of film really?) amusing.

BifCarbet
May 7th, 2015, 15:32
OK I wasn't sure if we were applauding this guy for making a comprehensive list or tearing his list apart. Glad I'm not the only one who laughed at this.

Also, someone explain to me what "生命を外面九天です" means.

acpc2203
May 7th, 2015, 15:41
OK I wasn't sure if we were applauding this guy for making a comprehensive list or tearing his list apart. Glad I'm not the only one who laughed at this.

Also, someone explain to me what "生命を外面九天です" means.
九天 is apparently heaven in Taiwanese, so maybe it is "this is life outside (outer?) heaven"? With を for some reason?

BifCarbet
May 7th, 2015, 15:44
It seems like a mistake or a machine translation to me, but obviously I'm not native. "It's outer spacing life!"
I would love to be educated on the real meaning so I can stop cringing.

Jiggit
May 7th, 2015, 15:51
Yeah I can't see any way it could possibly make sense. I think this guy may in fact be an idiot.

acpc2203
May 7th, 2015, 15:56
http://youranswers.info/question/view/en/YUhSMGNEb3ZMMnBoY0dGdVpYTmxMbk4wWVdOclpYaGphR0Z1WjJVdVkyOXRMM0YxWlhOMGFXOXVjeTh4TnpjeU15OTNhR0YwTFdsekxXRXRkMjl5WkMxbWIzSXRjR0Z5ZEdsamFYQmhkR2x2YmkxMGFHRjBMWEpsYzJWdFlteGxjeTFyWVcxbGMyVnlkUT09
I think his Japanese "friends" were trolling him in addition to him being an idiot.

weepinbell
May 7th, 2015, 23:01
That list looks really extreme, I ain't about to haul 20 bars of souvinier soaps over in my luggage. Wow.

On that note though, shoes... I'm a womens 8-9. Too big for Japan? I'll bring a few pairs of easy-to-pack shoes, but boots is where it'd get tricky. I've heard a lot of people say rainboots are a must, and if I get a no-driving placement I'm sure it'd be a pretty important thing to have lol. Would be nice to just get them in Japan if I could though.

Shincantsen
May 7th, 2015, 23:30
That list looks really extreme, I ain't about to haul 20 bars of souvinier soaps over in my luggage. Wow.

On that note though, shoes... I'm a womens 8-9. Too big for Japan? I'll bring a few pairs of easy-to-pack shoes, but boots is where it'd get tricky. I've heard a lot of people say rainboots are a must, and if I get a no-driving placement I'm sure it'd be a pretty important thing to have lol. Would be nice to just get them in Japan if I could though.

That's exactly my size, and it was difficult but not impossible to find shoes in Japan. I got some snowboots no problem, though, and in a worst-case scenario you could just get men's shoes.

BifCarbet
May 8th, 2015, 07:09
I've read a little more of this guy's stuff. Some of it is actually clever, and some is borderline informative, but he has a problem I've encountered in a few people I've known in Japan. He compartmentalizes Japanese language and culture as this collection of answers to be observed from the outside. That whole "There IS a way to naturally say '(English term they don't have an equivalent for)' in Japanese, they just won't tell me what it is." attitude that leads a lot of people to remember whole sentences and then use them totally inappropriately (BIMYOU means so-so, and I'm done with that vocabulary word, thank you). It also leads people to think they've discovered THE defining observation of some part of Japanese society (The correct omiyage haul is three levels of gifts, starting with a gold Rolex for the principal...). This rather than observing it all as something fluid that you are inside and changing by being inside of it, the attitude that most of the regulars on ITIL have, but seems to be missing from SOME people in the facebook group. I think it's an attitude that is natural for people who don't know much about Japan, but this guy seems to have remained in that mentality the entire time he was there.

sourdoughsushi
May 8th, 2015, 07:18
I'm a 9-10...typically like a 4L here. I've purchased purple gum boots from the mens' section just fine, but cuter big girl shoes can be a challenge.

Ebi
May 8th, 2015, 12:02
Same, my shoe size in the US is usually in the 9~10 range, sometimes 8.5 if the shoes are using some sort of wacky vanity sizing. I haven't had much trouble finding boots or basic work shoes, especially if I branch out to the men's section. But dress shoes or cutesy stuff can be a problem. Some stores in my city have started stocking some larger sizes lately, but they're usually priced a premium so I still buy most of my cute shoes when I visit home. If you want reasonably priced stuff then the internet is your friend.

texxaport
May 8th, 2015, 13:52
While re-reading thisjapaneselife.org for some other thing, I remembered that the guy also wrote about what he packed...

On Suitcases | 荷物 | This Japanese Life. (http://thisjapaneselife.org/2010/07/23/on-suitcases-%E8%8D%B7%E7%89%A9/)

Can we talk about the fact that he packed a hot pepper...? Not only does that sound ridiculous, but I'm fairly sure that's against customs regulations. I somehow got as far as "20 bars of lobster-shaped soap" without laughing.

x_stei
May 8th, 2015, 14:25
Now that I think about it, the contents of his suitcase is pretty funny. stuffed lobster for omiyage.

I guess I've just never thought about this far enough to the point where packing to that extent was funny.

Beefcarbay: I've never got the point of bimyou. One of those hard to translate Japanese words.

BifCarbet
May 8th, 2015, 16:27
Beefcarbay: I've never got the point of bimyou. One of those hard to translate Japanese words.

I find it very versatile. It's usually translated as subtle, and I think that's about right. I like to think of it as marginal or iffy.

Ebi
May 8th, 2015, 22:43
I love "bimyou". It's there to fill the void whenever you want some wiggle room. Like BifCarbet said, depending on the context it might be "subtle", "marginal", or "iffy". But younger people especially will use it as answers to express lack of confidence in making a judgement call one way or the other.

A: These pictures are bimyou-ly different. (as in "微妙に違う" [bimyou ni chigau])

Translation: "subtly" or "marginally"

A: "Hey, do you think we should bring an umbrella?"
B: *look outside and see gray clouds* "Bimyou."

Translation: "Hard to tell" - not confident enough to make a judgement, but implying you might want to take an umbrella just in case.

A: "How did you do on your test yesterday?"
B: "Bimyou."

Translation: "Hard to say" - implying a lack of confidence in their performance.

A: "I added some pepper to the soup, do you think it tastes better now?"
B: "Ehh.... Bimyou."

Translation: "Sort of?" - not confident enough or too reluctant to give a clear answer.



Or at least that's my impression of it. I'm happy to be taught otherwise. :)

x_stei
May 8th, 2015, 22:56
I just checked jisho.org. It says 微妙 is subtle while 美妙 is elegant, both pronounced bimyou. I've seen them both used before so this totally explains my confusion. Thanks!

I got an odd sense of deja vu when I posted this.

weepinbell
May 8th, 2015, 23:05
Translation: "Sort of?" - not confident enough or too reluctant to give a clear answer.



Or at least that's my impression of it. I'm happy to be taught otherwise. :)

Kinda soundslike an "Eh, I guess"/"Alright, I guess" equivalent, too. Gotta love Japanese ambiguity!!!

Ebi
May 8th, 2015, 23:20
Kinda soundslike an "Eh, I guess"/"Alright, I guess" equivalent, too. Gotta love Japanese ambiguity!!!
I wouldn't equate it with "Alright, I guess." That would be something more like "いいんじゃない?" [iinjanai?]

Case in point, my husband likes to answer "いいんじゃない?" whenever I ask his opinion on the taste of a particular dish, which I take as noncommittal lukewarm praise.

Bimyou (in some contexts) is more about expressing a lack of confidence in the speaker's ability to give a definitive answer. And I think it implies negative more often than positive, but only vaguely.

And yes, the ambiguity of Japanese is actually fun and useful once you get the hang of it, but it can be frustrating to decipher at first.

soh
May 14th, 2015, 10:07
On that note though, shoes... I'm a womens 8-9. Too big for Japan? I'll bring a few pairs of easy-to-pack shoes, but boots is where it'd get tricky. I've heard a lot of people say rainboots are a must, and if I get a no-driving placement I'm sure it'd be a pretty important thing to have lol. Would be nice to just get them in Japan if I could though.

I'm a size 8 and it's not too difficult to find shoes in the town near me. I'm either a size LL or 25. Some shoe stores in cities will have sections for bigger shoes. You can get Hunters online if you know your size already.

webstaa
May 15th, 2015, 08:16
A bit hard to do in advance, but if there are 'outlet' stores - real outlet stores - in your area, you might find larger size shoes there. You might be limited in what brands are available, but my pred got shoes at a UA outlet store in size 14. I also have a Japanese teacher in one of my schools that has massive feet and special orders his shoes - although he goes through regular stores.

Jiggit
May 15th, 2015, 09:05
I wouldn't equate it with "Alright, I guess." That would be something more like "いいんじゃない?" [iinjanai?]

Case in point, my husband likes to answer "いいんじゃない?" whenever I ask his opinion on the taste of a particular dish, which I take as noncommittal lukewarm praise.

Bimyou (in some contexts) is more about expressing a lack of confidence in the speaker's ability to give a definitive answer. And I think it implies negative more often than positive, but only vaguely.

And yes, the ambiguity of Japanese is actually fun and useful once you get the hang of it, but it can be frustrating to decipher at first.

In my experience the best way to figure out what stuff means (if you've got a little Japanese) is to google "word 英語". There are a lot more resources out there for Japanese learners of English than vice versa. Also you can check that the English makes sense and sounds natural whereas you may not be so sure about the Japanese - which means that it's better to focus on Japanese written for Japanese than that written for Japanese learners. For example:

http://hapaeikaiwa.com/2014/04/09/%E3%80%8C%E5%BE%AE%E5%A6%99%E3%80%8D%E3%81%AF%E8%8B%B1%E8%AA%9E%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%9F/
(http://hapaeikaiwa.com/2014/04/09/%E3%80%8C%E5%BE%AE%E5%A6%99%E3%80%8D%E3%81%AF%E8%8B%B1%E8%AA%9E%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%9F/)

Gizmotech
May 15th, 2015, 09:25
In my experience the best way to figure out what stuff means (if you've got a little Japanese) is to google "word 英語". There are a lot more resources out there for Japanese learners of English than vice versa. Also you can check that the English makes sense and sounds natural whereas you may not be so sure about the Japanese - which means that it's better to focus on Japanese written for Japanese than that written for Japanese learners. For example:

http://hapaeikaiwa.com/2014/04/09/%E3%80%8C%E5%BE%AE%E5%A6%99%E3%80%8D%E3%81%AF%E8%8B%B1%E8%AA%9E%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%9F/
(http://hapaeikaiwa.com/2014/04/09/%E3%80%8C%E5%BE%AE%E5%A6%99%E3%80%8D%E3%81%AF%E8%8B%B1%E8%AA%9E%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%9F/)

Jiggit is spot on. I spend a lot of time doing exactly this when I'm trying to figure out the nuances of a Japanese word.

BifCarbet
May 15th, 2015, 09:54
Also, for more complex concepts or specific items, I use the English Wikipedia page, then click on the Japanese button, OR do it the other way around. I read a bit to make sure it's exactly the same thing and check for a slight difference. Even if you can't read the Japanese, a picture or a few English words in the article should help.

Wouldn't work for BIMYOU, but it works for stuff like 文部科学省 or United Nations.

Ebi
May 15th, 2015, 16:23
In my experience the best way to figure out what stuff means (if you've got a little Japanese) is to google "word 英語". There are a lot more resources out there for Japanese learners of English than vice versa. Also you can check that the English makes sense and sounds natural whereas you may not be so sure about the Japanese - which means that it's better to focus on Japanese written for Japanese than that written for Japanese learners. For example:

http://hapaeikaiwa.com/2014/04/09/%E3%80%8C%E5%BE%AE%E5%A6%99%E3%80%8D%E3%81%AF%E8%8B%B1%E8%AA%9E%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%9F/
(http://hapaeikaiwa.com/2014/04/09/%E3%80%8C%E5%BE%AE%E5%A6%99%E3%80%8D%E3%81%AF%E8%8B%B1%E8%AA%9E%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%9F/)
This is excellent advice. I do the same thing. Plus if you can read Japanese fairly well, sites like chiebukuro (Japan's equivalent of Yahoo Answers) will usually have pretty detailed explanations of the nuance in different words and phrases.

Also you can try entering snippets of a sentence you want to say in Google in Japanese and see what pops up. Odds are there are some examples of it being used by a native speaker. But if the only sources appear to be sites like lang8, your sentence is probably unnnatural.

Trying to translate whole sentences almost never works out properly, but if you break it down into parts you can get a decent idea.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
May 16th, 2015, 01:18
In my experience the best way to figure out what stuff means (if you've got a little Japanese) is to google "word 英語". There are a lot more resources out there for Japanese learners of English than vice versa. Also you can check that the English makes sense and sounds natural whereas you may not be so sure about the Japanese - which means that it's better to focus on Japanese written for Japanese than that written for Japanese learners. For example:

http://hapaeikaiwa.com/2014/04/09/%E3%80%8C%E5%BE%AE%E5%A6%99%E3%80%8D%E3%81%AF%E8%8B%B1%E8%AA%9E%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%9F/
(http://hapaeikaiwa.com/2014/04/09/%E3%80%8C%E5%BE%AE%E5%A6%99%E3%80%8D%E3%81%AF%E8%8B%B1%E8%AA%9E%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%9F/)

Another good trick if you read Japanese well is to google a Japanese word + とは or って. This is the format usually used when people ask what something means. The first hits will usually be to chiebukuro or to some other question asking site and will usually have an upvoted answer at the top. You can also add in 語源 ("etymology") to the search to find what the history of a word is. Great for random katakana words!

genkispirit
May 25th, 2015, 00:59
For my omiyagi I'm thinking about bringing water colour prints of the Museum I work at. They are beautifully rendered, dirt cheap, and super light and only $3.00 per print. I work at a Heritage Museum that has the actual buildings on property. They are prints of the same buildings that were used in my local area from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. Would that be a well-received gift?

BambooTelegraph
May 25th, 2015, 01:02
For my omiyagi I'm thinking about bringing water colour prints of the Museum I work at. They are beautifully rendered, dirt cheap, and super light and only $3.00 per print. I work at a Heritage Museum that has the actual buildings on property. They are prints of the same buildings that were used in my local area from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. Would that be a well-received gift?

Is it edible?

I kid, I kid! How many were you thinking of giving?

genkispirit
May 25th, 2015, 01:04
Is it edible?

I kid, I kid! How many were you thinking of giving?


I was thinking these kind of things would be better received by Teachers, Faculty and the people helping me get settled. I was thinking of bringing about 10, gotta milk that employee discount.

BambooTelegraph
May 25th, 2015, 01:30
I was thinking these kind of things would be better received by Teachers, Faculty and the people helping me get settled. I was thinking of bringing about 10, gotta milk that employee discount.

That doesn't sound too bad!

However, just for some perspective: When I came a few years ago, I brought two sets of omiyage. A few personal gifts and lots of friendly gifts. The personal gifts were not-too-expensive gifts for my JTE's and my supervisors, while the friendly gifts were just cheaper edibles that I could give to everyone else. As it turned out, I had more than enough personal gifts, but I almost did not have enough friendly gifts. Your school(s) may/will have more than just 10 people (total combined I've got more than 70 different teachers, faculty and people who I interact with on a weekly basis).

In your case, it might help to have two tiers of items for omiyage. As more information becomes available and you'll be able to contact your predecessor, it might not hurt to ask them regarding numbers of teachers/faculty and people who will be helping you get settled.

genkispirit
May 25th, 2015, 01:45
I find the problem with things that are edible is that most of the stuff in Canada, I have found through experience, is far too sweet for most Japanese people. It usually takes them a while to accustomed to it. A lot of the cookies and things that you can get here you can get in Asia. We have a lot of local post cards that have some really nice local images on them, that are really cheap. May be I can use those for my small gifts. Although, I do like the aforementioned coffee idea. We have an amazing local brew that might nice for the office.

BambooTelegraph
May 25th, 2015, 09:48
Although, I do like the aforementioned coffee idea. We have an amazing local brew that might nice for the office.

Yes. This is brilliant! Japanese office coffee has the unfortunate characteristic of being less than satisfying... Good Luck!

Jiggit
May 25th, 2015, 09:59
As we've said before, if you get something for the whole office everyone will understand and be thankful. If they like it too that's just an added bonus, it's the thought that mainly counts.

If you buy individual gifts they may well be pleased but they'll probably also be surprised and not sure what they're for. One to your supervisor for helping you setup should be fine.

Frap
May 25th, 2015, 20:35
I was going to bring some of Wigan's famous "Uncle Joe's Mint Balls" but I read somewhere that Japanese people don't like mint flavours?

word
May 26th, 2015, 09:23
Doesn't really matter if they don't like it; it really is the thought that counts. There's plenty of mint-flavored stuff sold here, though.

johnny
May 26th, 2015, 09:25
There is a lot of mint gum and mint mints here for sure. I hate mint chocolate so I never look for it, but I assume they have that too.

Edit: Word and Jiggs are right. Your Japanese co-workers will accept your gifts like people in most places. They will genuinely appreciate anything you bring them. If the gift comes from your hometown, I think they'd appreciate it for the novelty alone.

genkispirit
June 4th, 2015, 00:54
My small town lives off tourism as it has some really nice beaches. There is A LOT of that kind of novelty trinket stuff everywhere. Even chain store owners carry the standard post cards and fridge magnets.