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I'm invited by a Japanese family for a home cooked dinner at their house. I'm wondering, given the Japanese gift-giving culture, what is appropriate to bring with me in this case and if it's any different than the "regular" gift-giving advice found online ?

Back home I'd bring a bottle of wine or dessert but I'm not sure it wouldn't offend the host. Should I bring something for everyone or is a single gift enough ?

This wasn't originally planned so I don't have anything from my hometown on me to offer them

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Inviting someone to dinner at home is sufficiently unusual in Japan that there's not much in the way of etiquette here, as people typically entertain by going out to eat. But as in the West, you're not going go wrong with wine or flowers. "Western" (grape) wine is the easy option, anything you'd drink at home will do fine as a gift. If you opt for flowers, avoid white flowers and chrysanthemums, since both are associated with funerals; a premade bouquet from a flower shop will be OK.

I probably wouldn't bring dessert, since your hosts will most likely already have prepared something, but a gift that you don't need to eat on the spot (chocolates etc) would also be totally fine.

As always in Japan, the packaging of the gift is at least as important as the contents, so you'll get extra brownie points if you purchase your gift at a name-brand department store (Mitsukoshi, Matsuzakaya, etc) and get it gift-wrapped there.

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    Bringing flowers is not really usual in my experience and at least the Japanese I know consider it "a weird Western custom". I would just bring something from the place you are now, if it's a different place than where you are invited. For example if you are in Tokyo now, and are invited to dinner in a different city, you can bring Tokyo Banana or something. Or if you are going to any place at all where they sell stuff that you can only buy there (almost all tourist spots have some special sweets with the name of the spot on it), then bring that. That also makes for a good conversation start. – fifaltra Oct 18 '15 at 12:03
  • @fifaltra The OP is a Westerner and by definition weird, so weird Western customs are OK. ;) Bringing a standard Japanese omiyage would be the least weird but also least interesting option. – lambshaanxy Oct 18 '15 at 12:34
  • Yeah, but I'd leave it to the OP to decide whether they want to be interesting or conventional. – fifaltra Oct 18 '15 at 14:16

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