Thursday, January 22, 2009

Did you get us anything?

As often as is the case here in Japan, some of the nicest customs can also be among the most annoying. I'm talking about the "Omiyage", the gift giving tradition of local souvenirs. Now, in general, this is a pretty nice custom, a friend of yours or someone goes somewhere and brings back something small for you. I like giving gifts to family and friends as much as the next guy and freely admit that I adhere to this customer, in Japan and also outside Japan.

However, again, this can easily spin out of control. Recently I have had to travel a bit nationally in my work and an unnerving custom has developed in the company where people on national business trips bring back something edible for the whole office to try out from their destination. I just simply refuse to do this, it's bad enough that I have to go to stupid Hiroshima for a stupid appointment which I didn't particularly enjoyed or even wanted to go to in the first place and the only place I saw except for taxis and train stations were the meeting location. But I'm not gonna spend 1000~ yen of my own hard-earned money buying snacks for people who didn't really care about it anyway. This was the way things used to be, only controlled gift-giving within the office.

Somewhere in the company during my departure a paradigm shift happened and people started buying stupid (they're usually not good to begin with) snacks from all over the place and placing them in the cafe space. But I refuse to play along, I just don't bring back anything and I'm hoping to create a counter-culture to stop this excessive snack purchasing.

The exception is when I've been on overseas business trips since the general image in most people's minds seem to be that that's all fun and games, so to somehow lessen the envy a little bit I usually bring back some local snacks (most recently Crocodile and Kangaroo jerky, which for some reason remained uneaten for weeks at end, the ungreatful pigs and sows...).

Just say "NO", it's that easy!

6 comments:

Peter said...

I've recently moved to Japan, In the process brought over 160kg worth of stuff, I made the effort to get gifts for the family, but once I got here I was told that I should probably have gotten the neighbour something... the Japanese gifts you get given usually come in the boxes you've shown, its like they're produced specifically for gift giving. Don't think, just buy that c**p labelled 'omiyage', you've met your responsibility.

john turningpin said...

LOL at kangaroo jerky. Classic.

ThePenguin said...

Personally I make it a policy to buy 1 (one) box of "Tokyo Banana" as a momento of my successful return to the city.

Mr. Salaryman said...

I actually kinda on purpose buy shit that will not be eaten in one minute just for fun, but I think the kangaroo and crocodile jerky was pushing it a bit...

Penguin - Tokyo banana is the shit!

Anonymous said...

Great stuff Mr Salaryman. Crocodile jerky. Reminds me of when we were kids. You were the only one clever enough to do your chores so poorly that noone ever asked you to do any work again.

Anonymous said...

Fried alligator on a stick is scrumptious. Come down to the South and try it!

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