Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Returning Home

One of the big dilemmas upon returning to Japan is deciding what to bring along from America. Last year I was selfish and brought mostly hard-to-get food and clothing items for myself. But I've adjusted my habits enough that this year my only food items were two bulk bags of yeast, two bulk bottles of cinnamon, a large bottle of vanilla extract, a big bag of gummy bears, and some energy bars. I had a couple pieces of clothing and a couple pairs of shoes, but most of the remaining room was allotted for other people.

Patagonia is popular in Japan, but it's quite expensive here (usually about 40% more than U.S. prices). I'm a good online shopper so I advertised my services to the local kayak shop and pretty quickly had a long list of things to buy.

I returned with 23 pieces of clothing, all of it at least 75% off of Japanese prices:

I also have to buy omiyage, or gifts, for the people I know well. So something for each of the three teachers' rooms, the Board of Education, the eisa group, and many individuals. I also filled half of one of my bags with elk and pheasant meat to give away to close friends.

I'm going to address a question from the comments here: how do I get meat back across international lines? The short answer is just not to say anything when going through customs. But the longer answer is that I checked with a customs agent a few months back and he said deer meat is okay to bring it. The problem, if I were checked, would be proving that this meat is from a wild ungulate. The packaging from the butcher says "elk", but that's hardly a guarantee for the likes of people responsible for intercepting bovine illnesses. So I would have to have my meat USDA certified as deer to be guaranteed entry. But this is not possible since the meat wasn't raised on a farm. So the alternative to USDA certification is just to check the box the says "I am not bringing in any illegal meat products." I can't prove it (and as such, you can take it away), but I promise you they're not illegal under Japanese law.


Julie Furber said...

How does one bring meat from a hunting trip back across international lines? AWESOME

Dave said...

Julie, I just addressed your comment in an addendum within the post.