Gift giving in Japan

Gift giving in Japan

Gift giving is deeply embedded in Japanese culture. The details and nuances are important to observe. From Omiyage - buying something on your trip, usually food, to bring home to family and co-workers, or Temiyage, giving a thank you gift when visiting. There are gifts to give co-workers and those around you during July, called Ochugen, then in December the giving is called Oseibo. Then there are the introduced traditions of Valentines' Day and Christmas gifts. 


Gift giving is a continuous practice which smooths the rails in social relationships, showing appreciation and respect for those in your circles. 

(image from


This is a simple summary from the Japan Guide, and this explains the Ochugen gifting period in July. Here's an article outlining the Etiquette - how to give and to receive the physical gift. 


This book, Gift Giving in Japan is a 2003 study by Katherine Rupp, from Yale University, takes an anthropological perspective of the ritual and economics of gift giving. It would make an interesting gift in itself.

To inspire your gift giving, try the Japanese method. Many gifts are wrapped in a special fabric made for this purpose, called Furoshiki. Here a brief overview (with a western perspective) from Elle Decor.


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