If you plan on coming to Japan you had better learn this word and get involved. In North America when one is invited to the home of someone you frequently may bring a little something such as flowers. In Japan this bad habit has progressed to be a multi-billion dollar industry. There are thousands of shops selling sweets, crackers, etc. that are located at train stations, highway rest stops, department stores, tourist areas, temples and everywhere. Each city has certain items they are renowned for and so of course you find these in many shops along the street. I of course would like to buy and eat one of everything, but generally these are purchased to be given to the people you are going to see, family you are coming home to, a friend or whomever. All too often there is some sort of reciprocation involved and the shop owners continue to survive.
Traditionally when we visited Japan we tried to bring things from Canada that could not be found in Japan, but that has become virtually impossible or the gift is somewhat impractical such as Canadian fur. Japanese stores sell maple syrup, maple cookies and Canadian alcohol products. Alcohol is found in any grocery store and even in some vending machines. So anyway on this prolonged visit we have begun to operate the way Japanese people might. We are in city A, buy a specialty of A and bring it to someone in city B.