Gift giving is customary in Japan, and if you're visiting Japan from America, whether for business or pleasure, it's appropriate to give small gifts to those that help you. As an American, you may wonder what types of gifts Japanese women like to receive. While personal tastes are sure to differ, a few things will sit well with almost everyone. Be sure to take care when wrapping, as the Japanese think that wrapping is just as important as the gift itself.
Japanese women appreciate receiving gifts that relate to your hometown. Ask yourself what your town is known for, and it's even better if it is something that is famous throughout the world. For example, if you live in Boston, consider giving a gift with the Harvard emblem. New Yorkers may want to give something related to the Statue of Liberty.
When you take the time to make something for a Japanese woman, she will definitely notice the effort that you put into it. Items you can use are better than knickknacks. For example, if you can sew or knit, a nice bag would be nice. Baked goods are also a smart idea. Most Japanese homes do not have an oven, so it's extra special to receive a gift that someone has baked. Handmade gifts are more unique than something you purchase in the store, which makes them more memorable.
Of all the different types of gifts you could give a Japanese woman, edible gifts are perhaps the best. Japanese homes are small, and if you give someone a knickknack gift for the home, she will feel obliged to keep it, even if she doesn't use it or have room for it. Edible gifts, on the other hand, are preferable because she can enjoy them, but they don't take up space forever. Sweet gifts make a good choice. You can also combine this idea with the regional idea, bringing regional foods with you. For example, you can bring maple syrup from Vermont or sourdough bread from San Francisco. Whatever you choose, make sure it will hold up well during the trip. You wouldn't want to give a gift that has spoiled or fallen apart.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.