What would be a good gift (from Los Angeles) to bring a Japanese friend in Tokyo?
August 23, 2010 1:40 PM   Subscribe

What would be a good gift (from Los Angeles) to bring a Japanese friend in Tokyo?

I'm visiting Tokyo in a couple weeks and will be seeing a Japanese friend-of-a-friend who used to live here in the USA, but now is in Tokyo. I don't know him that well-- met him a couple of times here in L.A., kept in touch over Facebook (which he barely uses) and now he's graciously offered to show me around in Tokyo when I'm there.

I'd like to bring him a gift to express my thanks, but I'm not sure what would be appropriate. Sadly, I don't know a lot about him (and am unable to ask our mutual friend in common) to have a good idea what would be right.

He's 28, gay, doesn't smoke, and I don't know what he drinks (though a bottle of something is one idea; worst case, he can regift it, right?).
posted by pnoeric to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Something general and handmade can be nice if you don't know a person's specific interests. There are lots of independent vendors on the Venice Boardwalk, especially on weekends. Maybe take a walk down there and find some unique artsy thing that would be difficult or impossible to find in Japan.
posted by allseeingabstract at 1:46 PM on August 23, 2010

A Mickey cellphone charm from Disneyland would go over very well. Bring it to him gift-wrapped but in the original bag from the store, as per Japanese custom.
posted by lizbunny at 1:47 PM on August 23, 2010

Different kinds of potato chips. I'm serious.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:14 PM on August 23, 2010

Best answer: Putting whatever you give him in a Trader Joe's bag as a gift bag and a small gift itself may be appreciated, apparently, if he's the kind of guy who doesn't mind using bags to store/carry things in (the colorful surfboard edition is popular in Japan and only costs 99 cents here, so even if he won't use it, maybe his sister or mom will). See's candy is a safe bet if you run out of other ideas. If you don't know whether he likes sugary things, get the wrapped candies like the little pops so that he can bring it to his office or otherwise share it with friends.
posted by wintersweet at 2:57 PM on August 23, 2010

Best answer: Oh, a UCLA t-shirt or a t-shirt from your college or university (if it's local) would probably be welcome too (colleges have stepped up their t-shirt design game in the last 10 years, and even though t-shirts are cliched, university t-shirts are pretty welcome with that demographic, I think). And yeah, even if you put it in a TJ's bag, leave it in the college gift shop bag if you go that route. . :) You can probably guess his size from photos, and err on the size of smaller per Japanese fit unless there's a good reason not to...
posted by wintersweet at 3:01 PM on August 23, 2010

Baseball stuff - hats, or even a jersey or T-shirt with the name of a Japanese player in the major leagues. Maybe an Angels t-shirt with Hideki Matsui's number - I brought over a couple of Yankees shirts with his #55 on them and it went over pretty well.

Also, as you indicated, you almost can't go wrong with liquor. Even the "wrong" liquor is still right. I would recommend a decent bourbon, since it's seen as a very "American" thing there. I think I brought Heaven Hill, and I picked it at the duty-free on my way over.
posted by deadmessenger at 3:42 PM on August 23, 2010

Best answer: The stereotypical gifts in these situations seem to be Soap and Food. Soap is kind of boring, so I would go for Food.

I would find some portable share-able American Foods. Potato chips and chocolate are pretty good ideas, but chocolate is a lot more likely to come in a pretty box.
posted by that girl at 5:17 PM on August 23, 2010

I would go to West Hollywood and buy something from that ambience.
posted by effluvia at 8:13 PM on August 23, 2010

I'd bring something like a Hollywood or Venice Beach sweatshirt. (I used to suggest See's Candies in this situation but I hear they've got a couple branches in Tokyo now.)
posted by Rash at 11:29 AM on August 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all-- lots of excellent ideas here. I love the idea of a UCLA t-shirt, I think he'd probably appreciate that, and definitely something Trader Joe's, too. (That's such an L.A. institution...)
posted by pnoeric at 5:45 PM on August 31, 2010

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