Omiyage is a way of life in Hawaii. It's a tradition brought over from Japan. Whenever a group gets together, almost everyone will bring a little gift happily wrapped. (from Kay's blog)
This got me thinking that our Western custom, although not quite as well refined in this regard, is pretty similar, particularly amongst women. I don't think Sue has ever visited anyone without bearing a gift, except probably if it is an habitual and recurring date such as her almost weekly visit to a nearby friend.
I remember back in the day when we used to watch Dr Phil (don't worry, we got over it long ago), he mentioned that men could even drop in on other men without bringing a gift. This may only be partially true, for I did bring donut holes when I dropped over to see Nick not long ago.
I was thinking that this was a recent phenomenon, but then a childhood memory soon disabused me of that.
When I was 5 or 6, we visited one of Mom's cousins whom I called Aunt. She took along with her a box a Laura Secord suckers aka lollipops. I looked forward to them greatly as treats were not all that plentiful at our house.
After some time, when the treat was not forthcoming, I wandered into the kitchen and began to open the box. Mother was aghast at my lack of couth, but I was too young to know better.
So, the custom isn't new although I do believe that it has risen to new heights.