You are all familiar by now with the Japanese tradition of omiyagi.
You give it when you come back from traveling. You give it when you visit a home. You give it on birthdays, Valentine’s, Christmas, promotions, all manner of holidays, comings, goings, weddings, anniversaries, when your favorite team wins, when they lose, when you have guests, when the day is a prime number or a multiple of two, three, seven or any combination of factors. I haven’t figured it out quite yet myself. The point is, always have a wrapped gift in the car so if someone gives you something you can say you forgot theirs in the car and run out and get it. Brandie is brilliant with omiyagi emergencies. Towels, cookies, pencil sets, pudding concoctions, pictures, books, whatever, she has it in her purse - packaged.
Well, last night at karate the light went on.
Let me explain and be ephemeral (for once).
About a two months ago Brandie and I went to Sasebo for a test I had to take at the Naval Base there. We brought back, as expected by all who know us, live near us, bump into us or work with us, near us or have ever heard of us, 7 million pounds of omiyagi, our little Toyota was taxed! We didn’t quite know what to bring from up there that was politically correct and cultural so we grabbed a sheaf of junk at one of the thriving “omiyagi shops.” There are stores just for this occasion.
We became indebted for, among other things, some papaya pudding snack cups that the owner said were particularly famed. They come in a little sleeve of five pudding cups. He drew a little smile on the package as he described what our friends would do when they got them.
I bequeathed them my upon supervisor at school. Matsuda-sensei smiled.
Last night at karate guess what I got for an omiyagi… Yes, exactly; papaya pudding with a remarkably familiar smiley face on it. I smiled.
When I got to school this morning I asked Matsuda-sensei if he had ever heard of Sho-rei-kan dojo (my dojo). He asked why and I said that there was a competition this weekend and I wanted to know if it was as famous as the guys at the dojo say (lies…but tactful lies for good reasons, so they’re OK). He had not. I coerced him into a conversation about hobbies and told him I worked with Hirakawa-sensei (my Buddhist Monk Okinawa Karate Sensei) three days per week and it was great fun. He never heard of him or Sho-rei-kan dojo.
So that’s it. My little Sasebo pudding cups have had quite a busy two months bouncing around enough smiling faces to get back to me. I supposed every one is so polite they don't ask where it from, say if they like it, or throw it out, they just hold it until the next opportunity. Japanese "Hot-Potato" played with crappy gifts. This weekend I have to go back to Sasebo for another test. Maybe I should bring them back to the omiyagi-san and tell him no one, not even people I don’t know, wants them.