Handcrafted Foods – If making your own gifts isn't an option, consider heading out to one of Tokyo's many farmer's markets for some season-a-licious treats and more. There you'll find a fun atmosphere in which to sample as well as buy jams, pickles, vinegars, wines, breads, juices, and even some great craft items. Rice – black, red, or white – also makes a unique and tasty gift, as do heirloom varieties of soybeans and miso. Really, the sky (and the carrying capacity of your shopping bag) is the limit.
Classes – Events or workshops are something most of us dream of participating in but always manage to put off for a later day. Classes are a great way to meet people, try something new, and warm up those chilly days with a bit of exercise or a new recipe for a perfect winter dish!
Big Picture – For the person who has everything, including a table heaped with holiday food, why not consider giving a donation of some kind in their honor? Such gifts go a long way toward improving our world and telling the other person it's extra special because they are in it. For a slight variation on that theme, consider purchasing items from Tohoku or those specifically made using fair trade practices.
Photo information: We took this photo in January on a trip to Hida Takayama in the old part of town. Housed in one of the Edo Period warehouses there, this little shop is home to, as I understand it, Tanaka Shinsaku's woodblock prints. Usually made into mokuhangawashizara (wood block on paper plates), here crafted into animal shapes in cloth printed with his designs and stuffed with momigara. Utterly brilliant and beautiful, these would also make excellent gifts.
Got some other good gift-giving ideas? Drop a note and let me know!