One of my Japanese friends (whose husband is American) once said that when American people go to visit the home of an acquaintance, they don’t bring a calling present.
If you are American, tell me if this is true.
If you are not American, do you bring a hospitality gift? I want to know if this is a custom peculiar to Japan.
I usually bring sweets or fruits which costs about 2000 or 3000 yen. This depends on our relationships.
When you have guests in your house, you need to provide some sweets to serve your guests. If you haven’t had time to buy anything, you can serve the gift the guests offered, saying “I’m sorry; this is what you have brought.” (“Omotase de sumimasen.)
Do you have any customs when you visit an acquaintance?
Koir(Canada) : Being from Canada, I can say bringing a gift is dependent on the situation. If it's a party with other guests, most of the time bringing something like food or dessert is preferable to ensure everyone has enough to eat. Other times, bringing gifts when you visit an acquaintance isn't a common practice.
I don't visit acquaintance that much in their homes...mostly because my acquaintances are quite far away. Perhaps another person who does have acquaintances closer to them can provide more insight.
Klint(The US) : Well, like Koir said, most of the time when people here meet up for things like cookouts, football games, and even movies, it's better to bring food and drinks with you. I guess this is often seen as a way to relieve the host from having to supply everyone with food on their own. It's really just a social convention that most people will choose to follow though. Therefore, it's not entirely necessary to bring anything at all, especially if you're going by yourself or don't plan on staying too long.
In my experience, the only real gift giving is done around the more obvious, major events (Christmas, Birthdays, Valentines Day...) although it's typical for one to receive gifts during other important stages of their life as well (graduation, buying their first home, getting married, having kids, getting promoted, retiring, etc...).
I hope this has been helpful.
Columbine(UK) : For me, it depends on the circumstances. If I had never been to their house before, I might take something, especially if I was invited for a sit-down dinner. A bottle of wine or flowers, or some chocolates. It's not compulsory though.
If it were just a casual visit with a friend, I might take some DVD's with me we could watch or if i'd done some baking, some of that in a tupperware box. Often I don't bring anything, but then it's more normal to return an invitation with an invitation. So I might not bring anything, but then they would visit my house another day instead.
If it's a party, I would offer to bring something when I accepted the invitation. Obviously if it were a birthday party, i'd bring a card and a gift relative to how well I knew them.
If I have a guest visiting, it's generally polite to offer them a drink, and if they stay longer, something to eat. Like if a friend of relative pops around, i'll always offer tea and a biscuit. If it's later in the evening, I'll offer other things.