International Etiquette For Gift Giving: Japan

Varying cultures & traditions across countries also applies to gift giving, what may be considered appropriate in one country may be a cultural ‘faux pas’ in another.

Within the interdependent, global and multi-cultural marketplace of the 21st century, cross cultural differences in the approaches to and practices of business people across the world are important to learn.

Every week we will be covering one country/nation/continent and we will provide a good understanding of the gift giving practices across these countries as to help you cultivate a worthwhile relationship with your business colleagues.

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Gift giving in Japan:

  • Gift giving and receiving is considered very important in Japanese culture and it is viewed as a mark of respect or appreciation.
  • The gift need not be extravagant
  • Be sure to gift senior colleagues better or more expensive gifts than their juniors
  • The best time to give the gift is at the end of your stay
  • Ensure that the gift is neatly wrapped but not in white or bright colours.
  • Do present individual gifts in private, in case you are giving a group gift then ensure that all the members are present before doing so.
  • The correct etiquette would be to present the gift with both hands
  • Gifts that are unique or reflecting the receiver’s interests are highly appreciated.

Occasions –
The most popular gift giving occasions in Japan are oseibo, which falls at the end of the year and O-chugen which falls during the middle of the year.

Gifts –
Good gift ideas include top choice beef, fruit and alcohol such as brandy, quality whiskey and Bourbon along with excellent wines.
They also appreciate gifts from high-end department stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus.

You must bear in mind that the above listing is not exhaustive and is only meant to serve as an initial guidance. It would be advisable to do a bit more research before you choose a gift. Always remember that thoughtfulness in choosing a gift would be more appreciated than the cost or size of the gift!!

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