The Culture of Gifting

It is a norm for us to bring a small gift to someone else’s house when invited over for dinner or gathering but the Japanese gifting culture takes it to a whole new level. They do not look at the value of the gift but are more particular in the number of items. They try to avoid numbers like, 4(Death) 9(Suffering) and 43 which relatively means the same thing as well. A lot of thought is put into the gift hence, to up our gift giving game we can incorporate some of these ideas.

Ditch the conventional wrapping papers, not only it creates trash and waste it doesn’t have much worth after one has open up the gifts. Unless you are super careful that peel off each tape to save the wrapping paper as well, to save all that hassle why not get a nice handkerchief or scarf to wrap the gift in Japan it is call ‘furoshiki’, these day you can easier get these at the Japanese specialty stores too. Not only can the receiver reuse the cloth to wrap another gift put it can be used as a handkerchief too. 

When you hand your friend the gift, say “Tsumaranai mono desu ga.” This means “this is boring but…,” expressing modesty. But in corporate settings, avoid such phrase, as it shows insignificance and belittles the worth of the recipient. Instead, use the phrase honno o shirushi de gozai masu ga,” which means “this is a token of my appreciation, but…” as it shows gratitude to the recipient.

Do not give the same gifts to unequal individuals. Social rank is important and prominent in Japan. If you give a bottle of sake to a businessman, do not give the same gift to his boss.

Expect the recipient to reject the gift and continue to offer it. In Japanese culture, it is polite to turn down a gift *twice* before accepting it.

Be sure to visit the Japan Fair that is happening at all B.I.G. outlets now, from 16th July to 9th August 2020! Put together your own gift of Japanese goods to your family and friends! Click here to learn more about the Japan Fair.

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