Need gift card for Japanese friends
November 25, 2007 6:11 AM   Subscribe

What kind of gift card/gift certificate should I get for acquaintances in Japan?

Every year for 15 years or more I've exchanged Christmas gifts with a Japanese family I met only once years ago. I live in the U.S. and they live in Japan. We exchange interesting local food items and I usually send things for their kids. For years, I sent a new U.S. kids' movie on VHS (which would play in both countries), but you just can't buy new movies on VHS anymore. According to Japanese custom, this gift-giving thing appears to be self-perpetuating and never ending, but last year we finally agreed not to exchange gifts, because of the high postage costs. So I didn't send anything but I got a Christmas package from them anyway and hurriedly put together a present for them and sent it off (very late!). This year I was just not going to send anything and hold firm no matter what, in the hopes they'd stop next year (or eventually). But then I thought that maybe I could send them a gift card/certificate so they could get something the kids really need, and not have to pay more in postage than the gift is worth. I figured I could send them an gift certificate through, but that isn't possible. I'd have to navigate the Japanese-language site and hope that it will accept my U.S. credit card. Also, I'd like to physically receive a gift card to enclose in a Christmas card that I will send, if possible. So... where can I buy a Japanese gift card/certificate for an online or B&M store that would have interesting things for either kids ages 5-15 or the whole family (food, household stuff, clothing, books, music, etc.). I'm thinking around $50 or the equivalent round number in yen. The family lives in Yamagata.
posted by Joleta to Shopping (3 answers total)
you have seen the "in english" button on, right? far right on the orange bar or just click here
posted by noloveforned at 7:15 AM on November 25, 2007

Amazon Japan does indeed have the capability to accept US credit cards, but it's not the actual gift, it really is the thought that counts. So properly packaging or wrapping your gift is going to be waaaay more important than what's inside.

So Amazon or gift certificates may not be a good choice (another thing: it will be obvious how much money you spent, which is a bit gauche).

So, you may want to continue sending gifts from the States, but send something like a calendar, and some cute stamps, and the new Britney Spears CD for the fifteen-year-old.

Have you ever been to Yamagata? Great great great place.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:21 AM on November 25, 2007

Response by poster: noloveforned: No, I missed the English button on the site. Thanks!

KokuRyu: I do understand about the thought of the gift and the packaging. I also have tried hard over the years to only send items made in the U.S. (locally, if possible) or in Europe and not made in China (except who knows where VHS tapes are actually made). I'm was thinking of sending a gift card instead of a present this year as a way of easing in to just skipping the whole thing next year. We already know how much was spent on the presents (each way) as the values appear on the customs tag attached to the package. Besides, gift cards are "American cultural," right? :)

These are nice people I've met only once and with whom I communicate with briefly two or three times a year by e-mail. (Photos of the kids, short vacation reports, etc.) I'm sure it's as big a burden on them to keep exchanging gifts, and they have three kids and less income than I do.

I visited them for one day in Yamagata in 1996. We went to a big temple, which was indeed a lovely place.
posted by Joleta at 8:24 AM on November 25, 2007

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