Gift Giving in Japan


Japan is a country that prides itself in its deep connections to its cultural heritage. Gift giving is an important part of Japan’s formal obligation. Its is a tacit understanding that if someone gives you a gift you much return the favor with a gift of your own.

It is common practice to bring gifts with you whenever you go on business trips as the other party are almost always sure to give you something when you arrive or leave. Its also better to be prepared if they present you with a surprise gift so you will be able to return their kindness there and then.

The meaning behind Japan’s gift giving is the thought of giving someone a gift to make them happy instead of the actual gift having meaning. Therefore an expensive gift will not be seen as a bribe.

When should you give a gift? You should give the gift near the end of a visit. You should give the gift with both hands to show you’re giving them a gift with all your feelings and gratitude.

Since people often give each other things and there is a need to return the favor, there are often gifting cycles. One example of this is when a neighbor gives you some food and you have to return the plate. However, it is considered rude to return an empty plate so you have to return it with food of your own. and Thus since you gave them something they have to give you something back.

“International Gift Giving Etiquette – Japan.” International Gift Giving Etiquette – Japan. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.


Author: Mr.Bubble

im cool

One thought on “Gift Giving in Japan”

  1. Comparing Japanese gift giving etiquette to gift giving in the United States demonstrates differences in the two cultures. One thing that stood out to me was when you wrote that gift giving in Japan is a formal obligation. Although in both cultures it is considered polite to bring a gift when you go to a house party, in Japan the gift seems to be more of a requirement. In comparison, the host in the United States is usually not expecting to receive any gifts for hosting the party. I thought it was also very interesting that Japanese gifts were usually presented towards the end of the visit. At least in my family, a housewarming gift is given to the recipient as soon as you walk into the door. In addition, the cycle of gift giving in Japan seemed slightly more formal than the cycle in the United States. As you explained, it is impolite to return someone’s plate without filling it with food again in Japanese culture. In contrast, the tradition between my parents and their friends is that you will always bring either an appetizer or dessert to a party. For them, giving someone back their empty plate at a later time would not be impolite. Learning about how other cultures value gift giving is important because small differences in etiquette can affect the way you are perceived.


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