Gift-Giving Culture: Anytime of the Year!

  • If you start living in Japan, the gift-giving culture will be one of your new challenges. Japan is very familiar with gifts, both giving and receiving. We give gifts, receive gifts, anytime and anywhere. Here are some gift rituals we Japanese customarily do.

    1. New Year’s Gift

    We give a gift to persons involved (boss, parents and friends…) for New Year’s greeting. It could be an assorted snack, towel sampler or whatever. We hand it to them, thank them to have had time for us and wish them all the best in their New Year. The outside is usually decorated with gift wrapping paper written Japanese.

    2. Summer Gift

    Let’s skip the Valentine’s Day and White Day and talk about more traditional gifts here. Next one is summer gifts! The purpose of this gift is to thank persons involved in summer, almost the same as New Year’s. We enjoy choosing something that people feel summer, or helps people to spend Japan’s hot summer. Beer is one of the most popular summer gifts!

    3. Year-End Gift

    We have gift-giving culture at the end of year although we expect New Year’s gift ritual very soon as I introduced above. Because we mostly give all gifts mentioned above to the same people, careful choice is a key. If they love seafood, a crab sampler sounds rich and nice, as an example.

    4. As an aside…

    Our gift-giving culture effects on this kind of situation. For instance, you get a terrible cold and take a-week-off. When you finally get over from that and return to work, you can bring a casual gift to your workplace and they would be impressed.

    As above, we give and receive gifts anytime of the year; that’s why each gift doesn’t have to be too formal (but not too casual). Just try to say thank you to the person you give the gift. It sounds a little hard to choose perfect gifts every time, however it’s getting a fun event for you as you see people feeling happy with your carefully-selected gifts.