April 15, 2008

The Souvenir/Gift Thing

Before we get started, we wanted to give a very special shout-out to our friends (and devoted blog-readers) back in Maplewood, the Weiss family, who sent us a terrific care package that we got today! Thanks guys!

Well, believe it or not, we have been here a little over three months. It actually feels much longer! (In a good way). Since our weekdays have settled into a routine with work, school, and day-to-day life, we will try to share some general observations about Japan when blogging during the week. It just so happens that today's topic is gifts and souvenirs.

As we may have previously mentioned, Japan is a big gift-giving culture.

Souvenirs (aka omiyage) are also very important. The importance of this gift-giving is most easily seen by the tradition of buying souvenir sweets from anyplace you visit. Each town seems to have its traditional specialty item(s) that are sold as souvenirs. It is in the Shinkansen Stations, where store after store has boxes upon boxes of sweet souvenirs (almost invariably priced starting just around 1000 Yen), that this is most apparent.

There are so many types of pastries, red-bean paste stuffed sweets, chocolates, cookies, crackers that it boggles the mind. Tokyo Banana, about which we have previously blogged, is but one example of the phenomenon that is omiyage.

Random picture from today:

Here is a poster that is ubiquitous in all the train stations these days. Japanese anime is cool! (Although for every cool bad-guy fighting character, there is a truly bizarre character like Anpanman).

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