As most of us around the world prepare to give gifts in time for the holiday season, it is good to know about the precise way that gifts are given in Japan. Unlike places like the UK or US, where gifts are given casually, sometimes even wrapped in plain brown bags, newspaper ( I actually got some gifts wrapped this way from an English relative – needless to say it would probably elicit shock in Japan), or worse – unwrapped! In Japan, everything from the contents, to the presentation and wrapper, and especially the way a gift is given is an art and not to be taken lightly.
Here are some of the things to keep in mind:
1. Style is tantamount. The gift itself is of little importance, the ceremony surrounding it is very important.
2. Always wrap gifts. The selection of the wrapping paper is critical. Do not give anything wrapped in white as it symbolizes death. Do not use bright colors or bows to wrap the gift. It is better to have the hotel or the store wrap the gift to ensure that it is appropriate.
3. Do not surprise the recipient with the gift. Give your host some warning during the evening that you intend to give them a present.
4. Give the gift with both hands and accept gifts with hands.
5. Generally, gifts will not be opened in your presence. If your host insists that you open the gift do so gingerly. They take pride in gift wrapping, show that you appreciation the effort.
6. Do not give gifts in odd number or the number four, as odd numbers are bad luck and four sounds like the word for death in Japanese.
7. Gifts should be given at the end of a visit.
8. Do not admire anything belonging to your host too closely. The Japanese strive to please; you may be rewarded for your admiration.
9. Good gift ideas include top choice beef, fruit and alcohol such as brandy, quality whiskey and Bourbon along with excellent wines. They also appreciate gifts from high-end department stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus in America, and Harrods or Harvey Nichols in the UK.
10. The most popular gift giving occasions in Japan are “oseibo”, which falls at the end of the year and “O-chugen” which falls during the middle of the year. More on Oseibo in the next post!!
[tags]Gifts, gift giving, japanese gift etiquette[/tags]