Thursday, May 10, 2007
Since I've been in Japan for quite some time, I haven't bought or sent any souvenirs home for quite some time. When I first got here, I frequently visited a very nice local souvenir shop and picked up items which I'd send home to my family. In particular, I used to send along a figure for each New Year's representative animal in the Chinese zodiac.
After awhile, it seemed the novelty of such items wore off and my mother's sight began to worsen (she has retinitis pigmentosa) and she couldn't really enjoy the little things I sent. I could have offered some olfactory, auditory (wind chimes) or gustatory delights instead but the first two were not something my father would allow in his presence and the last something which is of very dubious value. I'm pretty sure my mother would much rather I sent her a box of chocolate pecan turtles from See's than a box of bean cakes.
My husband's family is also pretty well covered on the souvenir front. His brother goes home every year and has been taking home a variety of items for everyone, particularly his young nephews. So, it's been quite awhile since I've gone souvenir shopping.
My mother e-mailed me about a week or so ago and asked me to buy some uniquely Japanese things as gifts for a woman who helps her through social assistance for the blind. She didn't actually give me any clue about what this woman might like to have or what her character is like. The only thing I know is that she is middle-aged and has three daughters from age 6 to about 15 and she's unlikely to fit into Japanese women's size clothing. I also decided that any type of plates or dinnerware were ruled out because of the high likelihood of breaking and the relatively smallish size of Japanese plates, bowls and cups.
The local souvenir shop (on Pearl Road in Asagaya) has some really nice items which are well-made but relatively expensive. Given the uncertainty I feel about what I should buy, I decided to opt for buying a plethora of lower-priced items at the Daiso shop rather than one or two choice items from the nicer place. Most of the things pictured above are 100 yen each (except the prince and princess figures which were 315 yen).
The only type of items pictured above that I'd sent to friends back home before were a fan (a considerably more expensive one) and the cup and ball toy which I sent a very long time ago to a friend for his step-son. Apparently, the cup and ball was a big hit so I'm hoping this woman's youngest daughter will like it (and not injure herself swinging it around).
To be honest, I'm so far removed now from how a tourist might regard Japan that I have no idea what types of things they might enjoy so I picked up the things that looked the cutest. I did notice that there were a great many souvenirs and that all of them have bi-lingual tags or labels on them so they are clearly meant for foreign friends to receive as souvenirs despite being sold in a decidedly non-tourist/souvenir type of shop. I also noted, ironically, that many of the "Japanese" souvenirs were made in China. ;-)