Japanese Gift-Giving Tradition - The Wabi Sabi Shop

Japanese Gift-Giving Tradition

Do you enjoy giving gifts? I do!

Other than birthdays and Christmas, how often do you give gifts?

I was at my parents’ house for the last few weeks. And it was fascinating to see how often the neighbours, relatives, and friends exchange gifts in their community. Gift-giving is such an important part of Japanese society.

Graduations, weddings, returning from a trip, and even sealing a business deal all call for gift-giving!

Every year, Japan has two major gift-giving seasons: Ochugen and Oseibo. Ochugen are currently being exchanged in July and August. In December, people send Oseibo. Ochugen and Oseibo are exchanged as a token of gratitude to others. Food and alcohol are popular gifts for family members, close friends, and colleagues. Many people enjoy giving gifts from their hometowns.

The gifts are beautifully wrapped in a box or wrapping paper. You can request free gift wrapping when purchasing a gift at a store. Often times, gifts are wrapped and carried in beautiful furoshiki (a squire piece of cloths which can be re-used). Furoshiki allows you to wrap various shapes and sizes in a beautiful way while also making it easy to carry.

Here are some Japanese gifting etiquette you might find interesting:

  • Give and receive gifts with both hands as a sign of respect.

  • When giving and receiving gifts, bow to show gratitude and appreciation.

  • When receiving a gift, one should politely decline it up to three times before accepting it.

  • Many choose not open a gift in front of people to avoid being seen impolite.

  • If you choose to open a gift in public, do not rip the wrapping paper. If you rip, you may cause a bit of sir in the room.

  • It may be considered impolite to give a gift to only one person in a large group.

  • It is also considered impolite to open a gift in front of a large group of people.

  • Giving a gift at the start of any meeting or encounter is thought to be a way of hastening the proceedings. Gifts should always be given.

Let me know what you think about those etiquette.

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