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5 Tips on Finding the Perfect Omiyage for Your Japanese Host Family

A brown present with a red bow

Finally! You’re going to study abroad in Japan, the land of cat cafes, Studio Ghibli, and sumptuous cuisine. If you’re like most students, you’ll be staying with a host family to experience daily life in a Japanese home. You want to make a memorable first impression when meeting your host family — a good memorable first impression, not a bad one, like taking your shoes off and stepping on the floor of the genkan in your sweaty socks, much to the chagrin of your host parents (I speak from experience here). No one wants to have only horror stories to tell friends and family. This is where omiyage comes into play.

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The One Type of Person That Triggers My Anxiety

I’ve struggled with social anxiety all my life, but it wasn’t until I took a retail job that I figured out what kind of people make me especially anxious. I wrote an article about job hunting with anxiety and depression, but for most of us, the anxiety doesn’t end once you land a job. Working in a high-end boutique smack-dab in the heart of California wine country, I encountered people with all kinds of temperaments and different levels of social skills. After a few months, I came to the realization that one type of person always made me irritable and anxious, and that type?

Self-absorbed older women who constantly interrupt me.

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The Japanese Box Top

If your elementary school was anything like mine, you were probably encouraged by your teachers to bring in box tops. Box tops help raise funds for school supplies and other educational costs. They’re mostly found on cereal boxes (General Mills, ahem) but also on non-edible products as well. I don’t remember bringing many box tops to school, mostly because I was too engrossed in eating my bowl(s) of cereal to bother cutting them out.

Turns out, Japan also has something similar to the USA box top called the ベルマーク (Bellmark) or simply マーク. My partner told me how he used to cut them out and give them to his mom’s friends for their children to bring to school.

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I Tried Kyushu Instant Tonkotsu Ramen for the First Time

There’s a first time for everybody, and for me, it’s writing a cooking post. I’m usually too involved in the consumption of food to bother writing anything remotely like a post of said food. Now, however, I couldn’t resist.

My partner’s mother is Japanese, born and raised in Sasebo, Nagasaki. She recently returned from Japan with a bunch of edible goodies for us, including instant tonkotsu ramen.

Wait, instant tonkotsu ramen?!? (You’ll read why I was excited in a minute).

Meet Umaka-chan.

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