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I was evaluating doing couchsurfing during my next trip in Japan and this question: What does a couchsurfing host expect from their guests? makes me want to ask if there is a sort of "etiquette" I should respect if being hosted in Japan with regard to the "presents". In general, should I bring something or this would make my host feel uncomfortable? If it's ok bring something from my own country (which happens to be Italy), there is something I should NOT bring that a Japanese would find inappropriate (except the most obvious things)?

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It would be cool if the stackexchange platform would force a comment, or an upvote to an already existing comment, when downvoting a question or an answer :-) – Geeo Apr 29 '13 at 16:45
Yeah, it's come up on meta.SO a few times, but without result :/ At least it looks like one of the downvotes has been reversed. – Mark Mayo Apr 29 '13 at 16:47
@MarcelC. that question is about behaviour - do you need a gift, do they take you around town, how does it all work. this is about what type of gift is good or bad. The questions are not duplicates. – Mark Mayo Apr 29 '13 at 17:25
Indeed. And i pointed out that question in my question as a reference. – Geeo Apr 29 '13 at 17:26
@MarkMayo - "interacting with other cultures" Let's call Andrew Grimm. He seems to the specialist when it comes to interacting with Japanese – André Peseur Apr 29 '13 at 18:23
up vote 11 down vote accepted

So, if you're just joining them for dinner, you're NOT expected to bring a plate.

However, even for a situation like that it's often expected to bring a wrapped gift for your hosts, so certainly if couchsurfing I'd consider bringing something.

Ideally, gifts that can't be purchased in Japan would be a nice idea, and it'd be very special if from your home country (or city even!). If you know there are several people or a family, a gift for each one is even better.

In terms of price, err on the inexpensive side - you don't want them to feel that they owe you something as a result.

If you haven't got something from your country and just want to pick something up in Japan, consider fruit or food, cakes, or candy as easy but acceptable gifts.

*Things to avoid:

This will vary to some degree, but ask around and you'll be told - don't bring lillies, blossoms or lotus plants - sometimes associated with funerals. Potted plants are associated with sickness taking root. The numbers 4 and 9 are to be avoided (eg number of flowers).

Always offer the gift with two hands, and if you receive one in return, it's common to protest a couple of times before graciously accepting.

Source: The internet, and three years of Japanese language and culture study.

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Yes, can confirm 100%. Specially bakery that has varying levels of crunchy/softness are always liked. You can bring something that is generally available in Japan too (let's say Panettone) if the one from your home town is a special one. – uncovery Apr 30 '13 at 2:02

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