Homestay Tips

Host family in Los Angeles is overjoyed! 5 best souvenirs from Japan.


What is a good souvenir for your host family?

Students often ask us "What kind of souvenirs should I bring?" To be honest, American culture does not emphasize on bringing souvenirs.

It is common to receive gifts for birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Valentine's Day, etc. I have lived in Los Angeles for more than 12 years, and there was never a time when a friend from overseas who came to visit and say, “I got you a souvenir!”

Apparently, souvenirs are unique to Asia such as Japan and South Korea. In Los Angeles, some people give postcards if others have done something for them. It is ok to give souvenirs but American people would appreciate postcards too after your stay.

However, bringing souvenirs is what makes Japanese people, Japanese people, right? .This time, I would like to share with you what souvenirs host families loved based on the survey from 50 host families. I put them together and ranked them for you!

5 best souvenirs for your host family

No.5 Children's toys and stationery


If your host family has kids, it is a good idea to bring toys for kids under the age of 4 and stationeries for kids over the age of 5.


The reason for stationery for kids over 5 years old is that compulsory education called kindergarten begins at the age of 5. Kids under the age of 4 may study in kindergarten, but toys are a good choice as they are not yet in full swing.

Daruma dolls and kendama are also good choices for toys. Kendama became popular for a while, so you can buy it at a store in Los Angeles, but if you buy it in Japan, you can't find the pattern here, so it's good.

Also, the kendama itself will last much longer if you buy it in Japan. I think the kendama I bought in Los Angeles was cheap, so it broke in about two months …


Best stationery is an eraser. Japanese erasers are very good at erasing. It may be good to get one with a smell. A pencil with a cute pattern or a robot-like cool pattern is also good.

By the way, people don't use pencil caps very often in Los Angeles, so it’s best not to get one. Also, Hello Kitty-related stationery is common here, so I think you shouldn't avoid them also.

My daughter was delighted to receive an invisible pen in which you have to point a UV light to be able to see the words.

No.4 Kitchen Tools


It seems that Japanese-style kitchen items, such as those with cherry blossoms, goldfish, and sushi patterns are appreciated. There are various kitchen utensils, but I think pot-stand, pot-holders, ladle holders, aprons, coasters, and others are good.

It's a little different from kitchen utensils, but Japanese seasonings such as Yukari and Matcha salt are rarely to no used so they are not recommended to bring.

No.3 Green tea and black tea bags


Hot and cold green teas are commonly consumed at Starbucks in Los Angeles. To be honest, I ask myself, is this green tea? However, the level of familiarity is considerably high.

Additionally, most people use tea bags when drinking tea. It is not recommended to better bring tea leaves.

No.2 Mug Cup


Mugs are often displayed at homes in Los Angeles. I wrote that Japanese patterns are popular with kitchen utensils, but astringent mugs or tempered mugs are more popular than those with a cheap Japanese pattern printed on them.

The mug itself does not have to be expensive, but it seems that the one with the impression tempered like texture is good.

No.1 Candy/Snack


The most popular souvenirs are candies and sweets. You can put out candy when a guest comes over to your house. And if the candy bag is cute, just displaying it will make you feel better.


There are many types of candies, but you should avoid plums. Fruits are not out of the question, but I think it would be nice to have yuzu and mandarin oranges that are only found in Japan.

Rice crackers

For Asian homestays, sweets such as rice crackers are good. Persimmon seeds crackers and spicy wasabi flavors are preferred for Latin homes. Cookies are the perfect match for any race. Matcha-flavored chocolate is also popular.

Japanese Sweets

On the contrary, yokan and Japanese sweets are not popular. “What the heck is this?” would be the expected reaction. Although the taste is not a problem, the appearance of Karinto might not be visually appetizing.

Special: Did you bring this? Weird souvenirs

When I actually asked my host family, some international students brought unexpected souvenirs. For example, a kimono for dogs. It seems that the student asked the family for the size of their dog in advance and brought it here.

In addition, some of the souvenirs that were brought include Japan’s Coca-Cola bottle and a picture of the student's hometown. As mentioned above, Hello Kitty items are popular here in Los Angeles so there was a host family who wasn't very happy to receive Hello Kitty accessories.

Matcha sweets are welcome, but most households find it difficult to use matcha as a gift. Avoid bringing traditional matcha itself.


As a result of the responses from nearly 50 homestays families, the most popular items were candies and other sweets, mugs, tea bags, kitchen utensils, children's toys and stationery.

Unfortunately, green tea that is not in a tea bag or matcha is likely to go to the trash can, and there are many famous Japanese characters such as Hello Kitty here.

Bringing souvenirs are not so common in Los Angeles. You don't have to feel obligated to bring souvenirs. I think it's better to give a wholesome card after your homestay than to give a souvenir before your homestay.

However, as a Japanese person, if you bring souvenirs, your host family will be pleased with small items such as candies and sweets, rather than those that are expensive.

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