omiyage10The 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.