The Japanese are fond of gift giving. The exchange of gifts is called zoutou. Whenever a Japanese person goes somewhere or travels to any place they always bring back a small token from the place they visited called an omiyage. If they travel within Japan, they usually bring back a food item that the area is known for called meibutsu. Most areas of Japan have some food item that they are known for and this makes for a good omiyage. Many times it is a dessert or snack and is called a miyagegashi or souvenir sweet. When they travel abroad they usually bring back some small souvenir like a key chain, t-shirt or some other non-perishable food (they usually don't bring back food that is not pre-packaged because it is against the rules and Japanese people always follow the rules). The exchanging of gifts is a social lubricant. It shows that although you were away enjoying your vacation you were still thinking of the other people. To most Japanese, especially the ones over 30, omiyage is a must and not a choice. In Japan if you came back to the office without omiyage you would be considered rude and not a team player. So as not to offend anyone everyone plays the game and participates in omiyage.
In America, this is not something that we participate in. I remember one of my relatives brought back things from her vacation and one of her co-workers said, "What is this a bribe?" Omiyage is not a bribe but a gentle social gesture that reminds people that we care about them.
What would the world be like if we all showed even a little that we cared? I am sure it would be a nicer place.
------------------------------------------------------ "Let someone off the hook" challenge update
Day 1: I was able to fulfill day 1's requirement to let one person off the hook. It was quite easy and actually I was able to do it about four times. Since I was in the car for 3.5 hrs yesterday there was ample opportunity to let someone off the hook.
Today's (Day 2) challenge: Let 2 people off the hook.