Just like in the U.S., Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in Japan are celebrated the second Sunday of May or third Sunday of June. Every year I send my parents and grandparents some love from abroad, but coming up with something creative each year can sometimes be challenging. I also send my former host family parents a present, because we’ve bonded so much since my stay and over my years living here they’re pretty much “my family” as far as living in Japan goes. But as both holidays are relatively recent additions in Japan, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in the flower rut.
Whether you’re looking to change it up a little this year or looking for some good places to shop, I hope you’ll find this entry helpful.
Sending Mother’s Day & Father’s Day presents to the U.S.
If you can find something in Japan to send home that you know your parents will enjoy, that’s often the easiest. My mother loves Japanese design/paper stationary and fans (uchiwa) to use during the hot Texas summer, my grandmother likes the different brands of mini hand towels that Japanese department stores sell, and my grandfather is interested in the many types of unique stationary supplies (pens, erasers, etc.) Japan comes up with. He also likes receiving Mt. Fuji themed stuff because it reminds him of when he was stationed in Japan during the Korean War. Japanese snacks gifts are also something inexpensive but fun for them to try, so if I’m in a pinch I know I can always send some their way for presents or stocking stuffers.
However if you’re parents aren’t too interested in small, readily mailable stuff like this, your best bet is to order something online from overseas and have it sent to them. Some tried and tested sites I’ve used:
1-800-Flowers – Traditional floral arrangements and gift baskets. You can shop internationally located florists as well.
Personal Creations – Pretty much like any other personalization site, but their casserole dishes and kitchen items have been a big hit with my mom, and my grandmother enjoyed a quilt we sent her a couple of years back. Try the personalized beer mugs for dads or slippers for grandpa. They accept Paypal and domestic credit cards.
Harry & David – My grandparents love the snack arrangements they sell. Sign up for their mailing list or check for coupons on RetailMeNot; they usually have some kind of discount going on.
Edible Arrangements – A healthier alternative to Harry & David. They also have a list of worldwide service locations if your family isn’t located in the U.S.
Bespoke Post – From edibles to body care, you can customize a delivery to be sent to dad for $45. You’ll need to sign up to browse, though.
Open Table – Do your parents have a favorite restaurant? Why not send them there for dinner on you with a gift card. Take things up a notch and set the date, then contact the restaurant and see if you can arrange a special surprise or dessert.
Pajamagram – What mom or mom to be wouldn’t love a new pair of PJs to lounge around in?
The Company Store – Most of our summer and winter bedding is from here. Their stuff is really top notch and cozy.
Shutterfly – We usually purchase most of our photos and family photo gifts here. So far the most well received have been the customizable photo smart phone cases (they’ve got awesome designs) and calendars.
Mixbook – Best customizable photo book site I’ve come across so far. We did photo books of our wedding for family gifts one year and they ship internationally, too. Their newest Mosaic photo book let’s you pick and print a mini photo book for $20 right from your phone. How simple and cool is that?
Buying Mother’s Day & Father’s Day gifts to recipients within Japan
If you’re just looking for something quick to show you care or parent-in-law, you can usually order flowers or boxed food gifts from any convenience store or supermarket catalogue. The post office also has their own gift catalogue that changes seasonally or according to upcoming holidays. Ordering usually starts about 1-2 months from each date. You can also go to your local florist and usually have them make a bouquet and send it out. But if you’re looking for something a little more original, why not try out some of these gifts listed below?
Sushi Cake or Mini Sushi – I sent the latter last year and it was a big hit. Everyone in the family said it tasted really good.
Japanese Sake – This one comes with a label wishing dad a Happy Father’s Day.
Macarons – These are all the rage right now. Comes with an assortment of flavors to try.
Preserved Flowers – These make great centerpieces or decorations to welcome guests in the entryway or bathroom. Additionally they’re popular wedding gifts and Mr. J and I got quite a few during our engagement.
Fish Cakes – Like the kind you might find in oden, but a variety and comes with a message for dad.
Hokkaido Crab – Pretty much any kind of pricy seafood is going to go over well. 😉
Personalized Beer Mug – They’ve got a lot of cute message designs to choose from.
Steak / Yakiniku – Send or order up some prime cuts of meat for a ready-made barbecue party.
Coffee – For the mom or dad who depends on their caffeine fix in the morning.
Home or Fashion Accessories – Most moms would appreciate a thoughtful gift to brighten up the home.
Hot Springs Day Trip – Not necessarily limited to Jalan.net, but you can search for mini vacation packages nearby to send your parents or grandparents off for a bit of R&R.
Of course, presents that don’t cost any money can be just as thoughtful or better. I think most parents and grandparents would agree that the best present is time spent with you or your family. Because Japanese often don’t say their feelings out loud or send occasion cards like I grew up doing in the U.S., sometimes the most heartfelt gift can be a cards or letter telling them how much you care and continue to appreciate their support and love.
What did we do for Mother’s Day this year? Well, unfortunately I had a work event that Sunday so I couldn’t spend it with my Japanese mom or mother-in-law. I sent my Japanese mom some Mother’s Day pickled plums (umeboshi) and since Mr. J is a post office worker, he ordered something out of his company’s catalogue to be delivered to his mom. Stateside I sent my mom a personalized ice cream bowl since she’s always been a bit of a dessert fiend, and my grandmother a reclining chair cushion in hopes it’ll help her enjoy watching her favorite shows on TV in comfort.
Now all I needed to do is come up with something good for Father’s Day!
How about everyone else? Any present do or don’ts you’d care to share? Comment below!