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Thread: The deal with "omiyage"

  1. #1
    Because Japan... Cytrix's Avatar
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    Default The deal with "omiyage"

    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.
    Last edited by Cytrix; May 8th, 2012 at 10:30.
    tabemoto...: Cooking in southern Japan

  2. #2

    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.
    Last edited by Page; May 8th, 2012 at 11:21.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini
    If you are a empty husk of a man with no ambition come on jet, stay forever, drink yourself into a stupor every night, hurl abuse at people on itil like a roided up chimp at the feces olympics and die of thyroid cancer in your early 40s.

  3. #3

    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

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

  4. #4

    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini
    If you are a empty husk of a man with no ambition come on jet, stay forever, drink yourself into a stupor every night, hurl abuse at people on itil like a roided up chimp at the feces olympics and die of thyroid cancer in your early 40s.

  5. #5
    Cool Story, Bro Takoyaki's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    aw mannnnn so many questions answered
    I probably post things that interest you
    nihonomnom | JET Program tales from Kobe-shi \(^ω^\)└(★o★)┐(〜^∇^)〜

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  6. #6
    Because Japan... Cytrix's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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...
    tabemoto...: Cooking in southern Japan

  7. #7
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  8. #8

    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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!

  9. #9
    Because Japan... Cytrix's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.
    tabemoto...: Cooking in southern Japan

  10. #10
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    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.

  12. #12
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  13. #13

    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.

  14. #14

    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.
    Last edited by Page; May 8th, 2012 at 12:48.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini
    If you are a empty husk of a man with no ambition come on jet, stay forever, drink yourself into a stupor every night, hurl abuse at people on itil like a roided up chimp at the feces olympics and die of thyroid cancer in your early 40s.

  15. #15
    chill yo coop52's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.

  16. #16

    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    Taffy was a mistake for me, all mine melted on the way to my placement. >/
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini
    If you are a empty husk of a man with no ambition come on jet, stay forever, drink yourself into a stupor every night, hurl abuse at people on itil like a roided up chimp at the feces olympics and die of thyroid cancer in your early 40s.

  17. #17
    disobedient avocado Lianwen's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Eudox's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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.
    Last edited by Eudox; May 8th, 2012 at 13:32.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Lychee's Avatar
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    Default Re: The deal with "omiyage"

    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。。。

  20. #20
    Senior Member Milanna's Avatar
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    Default

    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.
    I have seen the life on this planet, Scully, and that is exactly why I am looking elsewhere.

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