a gift is a very common occurrence in Japan. I will list the most common
times to give a gift:
visiting a friend or family member, it is usual to take a small present, such
as a cake or candy. When going to a friends home for dinner it was not a custom
to take wine or beer, but with wine becoming more fashionable, this would be a
7-5-3 festival see the
starting or graduating school,
promotion at work, recovering from sickness, becoming an adult, getting married
and the birth of a baby are all times when it is appropriate to give a gift,
usually in the form of cash. The amounts do vary, depending on the event,
but on average 5.000 Yen should be o.k. for most events,
except marriage, where the amount is around 20,000 Yen. I know some Japanese
people, who must attend 5 or 6 weddings in the spring
or early summer usually colleagues weddings, but it is
still expensive for them to attend so many weddings in one season.
typical times to give gifts are Ochugen and Oseibo. The Ochugen (summer) gifts
are given as a form of greeting and to express good wishes for the hot summer
to come. Oseibo (end-of-year) gifts are given to show appreciation for everything
someone has done for you over the past year. This is also a popular custom
between companies. You should take note of this if you wish to do business
and winter gifts are sold in most supermarkets and department stores, before
the season begins. The prices range from around 1.500 Yen to over 10.000 yen.
The type of gifts varies also, coffee, towels, bed linen,
beef, whole fresh fish, and so on.
gifts go unopened or unwanted, resulting in the non-perishable gifts being
stored away in a closet and forgotten about, or passed on to
someone else as a gift. Another important gift
giving time is during the New Year holidays. Otoshidama- small
gifts of money given to children by parents and family members. This
can be a fairly expensive season as the average amount given, is from 2.000 Yen
to roughly 5.000 Yen per child. 5.000 Yen or more is often given to children of
high school age. Therefore, if your various relatives have
hoards of children you will be seriously out of
pocket. But as luck would have it the birth rate is on
a steady downward spiral, so that this particular custom is becoming less
expensive as the years pass.
birthday presents has gained popularity over the last several years, especially
with younger parents giving a present to their children and, of course,
with young lovers.
is another event that is gaining in popularity with shops pushing consumers
to purchase Christmas presents, but again it is the younger parents and
couples who tend to buy presents during this season.
Day must be one of the worst forms of commercialization, of a Western event
in Japan. It is women who give men presents (usually chocolates) on this day.
This often entails the woman having to buy chocolates for all her male work
mates. Often known as giri chocolates or gifts (duty chocolates, etc.). It is
quite possible for a man to receive many gifts of chocolates,
without one single romantic feeling behind any of
Day -(March 14th) is perhaps the most inane of all the gift giving times in
time the man must buy a small present (usually candies or cookies) to all the
gave him a gift on Valentines Day. There is as much genuine feeling attached
to this as is the case on Valentines day.
culprits for popularizing these two holidays are of course the various businesses
who make and sell the products for these occasions. A completely meaningless
event in Japan that ends up costing the consumer a lot of money. I
would like to make one final observation on gift giving in Japan. Wedding
Anniversaries are not popular times to give ones spouse a
present. Many companies have tried to push this idea, especially onto husbands,
with such TV commercials as "Sweet Ten year
diamond ring", a very famous diamond company started
showing this commercial several years ago. At one time I asked quite many
Japanese married men if they would buy their wife a "sweet
ten year diamond ring". They all, without exception said a firm
"no". This particular ring had 10 diamonds,
looking like at least one carat per diamond, maybe it
would take ten years for the average husband to pay for it!
rings have become popular presents to give to ones fiancé, often replacing
the more Japanese way, of the man giving his future wife a large money present, to spend on their future home. For many young women
in Japan, vanity has replaced sensibility.
last thought, if as a gaijin you marry a Japanese, then you should be aware of
all the different occasions you may be expected to spend
money on gifts, Japan is not a country for a miser to live in!!