As a Japanese citizen and a resident of the United States for almost 30 years, I have been following with great interest the intensifying relationship between our two countries. Now that Japan has become, in economic terms, the most powerful ally this country has ever had, the good news is that hardly a day goes by without some articles about Japan in The Post and other media. The bad news is that many articles are based on obsolete cliche's, outright inaccuracies and misconceptions, which present a distorted and misleading picture to Americans of the U.S.-Japan relationship.

One recent example of a subtle but serious distortion appeared in a Post story {Jan. 9} about the visit to this country of the new Japanese prime minister, Noboru Takeshita. The headline read: "Japan's Leader Prepares 'Offerings' for U.S. Visit." As most readers must know, the word "offering" has a Judeo-Christian connotation of worship, as when, for example, the Israelites in the Bible made burnt offerings or when, today, a congregation makes offerings during church services. In short, offerings are typically made in situations of unequal relationship -- from an inferior to a superior being.

I think most readers probably believed the Tokyo correspondent's word that Mr. Takeshita would bring Mr. Reagan "offerings" as a sign of Japan's homage to the United States. The fact, however, is that Mr. Takeshita visited not as a vassal (as some enemies of the two countries portray the Japan-U.S. relationship) but as a friend. He planned to bring to President Reagan and the American people some omiyage, which means presents, gifts or souvenirs but not "offerings," as the word was translated by Margaret Shapiro, who should have known better.

It is traditional for a Japanese person to take omiyage when he visits someone. It's a friendly thing to do, something to cheer someone up, especially if your good friend isn't feeling too well and is grousing a bit, what with trade deficits in spite of a sharply declining dollar. KUNIO KIKUCHI Bethesda