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Gift Giving in Japan

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Gift-giving is a tradition of great importance in Japanese culture, and exchanging presents is a significant part of interpersonal and business relationships in Japan. Return gifts are often presented by the recipient to the original gift giver, similar to the thank you gifts given to guests by the married couple at a wedding.

Please note that the number“four” in Japan is sometimes considered bad luck because its pronunciation, shi, is the same as the word for“death" in Japanese. As a result, gift items in increments of four or monetary amounts containing four (e.g., 4000 yen) are considered improper. White is a funereal color in Japan, therefore all-white material gifts should be avoided. In addition, chrysanthemums are usually reserved for funerals, and should not be included in non-bereavement bouquets.

Visiting a Japanese Family: Guests usually present an edible item as a sign of appreciation for the family’s hospitality. Appropriate gifts can be anything from alcohol, cakes, or a boxed gift set of a certain gourmet food or delicacy (tea, rice crackers, candy). All of these items can be found in the food section (usually the basement level) of major department stores in Japan.

Formal Occasions: It is common to give a monetary gift, which is usually presented in a special envelope called a noshibukuro. These envelopes are tied with special cords that correspond to the special event. Noshibukuro are available at stationery and convenience stores in Japan. In the United States, noshibukuro may be available at Japanese bookstores.


Edit by: Ryan
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