Omiyage

Me: I went on holiday recently.

Japan: Nice. Did you get any omiyage?

Me: Erm, what? No, I went to –

Japan: Omiyage. You bought souvenirs and gifts for other people, right?

Me: Not really, no, I –

Japan: What? Why not?

Me: Well, I bought a little box of cookies for some of the people I work with but –

Japan: Some?

Me: Yeah, what’s wrong?

Japan: Omiyage. You went on holiday?

Me: I know. I went to –

Japan: So you needed to buy everybody a gift.

Me: Everybody?

Japan: Yes. Everybody. Everybody in your workplace that you work with and even the ones you don’t. All of them. The people that were doing their job while you weren’t there. Them. You need to buy them a souvenir.

Me: But, I mean, that would be loads of people.

Japan: Yes, right.

Me: Which would mean shopping around and buying loads of gifts.

Japan: Yes.

Me: And spending money.

Japan: Right.

Me: But it’s a holiday. You’re meant to relax and have fun.

Japan: No, you’re meant to go shopping for other people. To show them some gratitude for working while you were away enjoying yourself.

Me: But you wouldn’t be away enjoying yourself. You’d be stressing about buying unnecessary gifts.

Japan: Stressing? You don’t have to stress about it. Lots of my cities and tourist destinations have box sets of speciality local sweets or snacks all individually wrapped. I’ve got a whole omiyage industry built for this network of guilt inducing social conformity. There is no stress.

Me: What if you go on holiday to a foreign country?

Japan: Ah, well, then there’s stress.

Me: Hmm. And then when you get back you give everybody you know a little speciality gift.

Japan: Exactly.

Me: So this must be going on quite a lot?

Japan: Oh yeah. You’ll get a little cookie or pack of sweets or cracker thing every other day if you work in a big office.

Me: Well that sounds nice; everybody sitting in an office happily munching on cookies together.

Japan: What? Don’t be daft. You don’t eat them.

Me: Huh?

Japan: No, you just take them home, don’t you.

Me: But –

Japan: Give them to your kids or your partner or your pet or your bin. I mean, you could eat them but that’s kind of missing the point.

Me: So, sorry, what is the point?

Japan: That you went on holiday.

Me: Oh, yeah, that reminds me, I went to –

Japan: It doesn’t matter. You didn’t get omiyage.

 

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March 27, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.