It’s a goof-up to give the same type of gift to two or more Japanese people of unequal rank. They will also feel offended if you give a gift to one person, but fail in your gesture toward others also present in that group. Following are some more key things to keep in mind when giving a gift in Japan:
1. Gifts are better not to be opened in public. This is advisable because if it turns to be a poor choice, it will cause ‘loss of face’. Also, if several gifts are given to people of different rank, opening them away from public glare prevents possible comparisons.
2. Ensure that your gifts are wrapped properly. It’s safest to leave this task to a professional gift-wrapping service. The appropriate gift-wrapping choices are pastel-colored papers, without bows. Avoid brightly covered wrapping papers or bows.
3. If invited to a Japanese home, take flowers (an uneven number), candy cakes. Gifts in pairs are considered lucky. If you get a gift, make sure to reciprocate. On your part, before accepting a gift, modestly refuse at least once or twice before accepting it.
– Prestigious international branded items like imported scotch, bourbon, cognac brandy or fine wines.
– Gourmet foodstuffs, fresh fruit, frozen steaks
– Electronic toys (if children are there on your gift-list)
– Pen & pencil sets
– A nice commemorative photograph (one taken from a gathering attended by that the recipient.)
Gifts to Avoid
– Lilies, lotus blossoms, and camellias that are associated with funerals.
– White flowers of any kind.
– Potted plants (They are believed to breed sickness.)
– Giving four or nine quantity of anything is considered unlucky.
– Red Christmas cards (funeral notices are customarily printed in this color.)
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