Bearing Gifts

Drinking Tea, Japanese Ryokan, Hakone

Drinking Tea, Japanese Ryokan, Hakone

If you are lucky to have the opportunity to stay at a Japanese home, it is a good idea to bring gifts for your hosts to show your appreciation. Gifts from your country or your hometown go over big in Japan. They do not have to be big or expensive; just something which represents your country/hometown and shows you thought about them and appreciate their hospitality.

Photos go over well too and bringing photos of your hometown, family, friends, work/school is a great idea. Photos go a long way to help describe your life in your hometown, especially if there is a language barrier between you and your Japanese hosts.

A Guest

Traditional Japanese Restaurant, Asakusa, Tokyo

Dining at a traditional Japanese restaurant, Asakusa, Tokyo

Japan has a hierarchical society and it seems everyone has their place, from top to bottom. Overseas visitors are given a special place too. They are treated as guests in the country, and as a guest they are given special treatment.┬áIt is like you are a guest in someone’s home, even though you may just be travelling about here and there seeing the country and not staying anywhere in particular.

If you are lost in Japan, for example, it is not uncommon for a stranger to come up to you and try to help you find your way even though they may not speak a word of English. If they cannot help you, in many cases they will try to find someone who either speaks English or who is in charge and may be able to point you in the right direction.

If you are lucky enough to be a guest in someone’s home, you will also be treated very, very well. Japanese homes are generally not as large as homes in Canada, and it seems your hosts will remind you of this fact and be embarrassed about it. This is something I never understood as I stayed in some very nice homes in Japan, a lot nicer than my home in Canada! Your hosts will also try to accommodate your tastes in food and go out of their way to make sure you enjoy every meal. Food is extremely important in Japanese culture and providing tasty and hearty meals is something Japanese hosts do well. It is a great opportunity to try different kinds of home-cooked Japanese meals, and see first-hand how a Japanese family enjoys their meals together. It is great insight into the culture and the people and something you will surely appreciate.