While many of us associate gift-giving with Western holidays like Christmas, the act of giving to others is a major facet of Japanese culture. In fact, the Japanese have a myriad of specific gifting occasions and traditions, not to mention a very specific gift-giving etiquette. As we ooh and ahh over this year’s DHC holiday gift sets, let’s take a moment to pause and explore the way the Japanese experience gifts.
First off, let’s discuss when to give, before diving into what to give and how to do so. Two major gifting occasions exist on the Japanese calendar: Ochugen and Oseibo. Ochugen takes place in the summertime, and gifts are exchanged as symbols of gratitude and love. Oseibo occurs in December, and this time around, gifts are given to symbolize indebtedness as an act of Giri, the Japanese notion of obligation or duty.
Next, let’s cover what to give, and the different types of gifts acknowledged in Japanese culture. After traveling, a U.S. citizen might kindly treat friends and family to souvenirs upon returning home, but for the Japanese, omiyage after a trip is more or less required. Think of omiyage less as a momento from your travels and more of an apology for leaving — the gift itself is often food, but regardless, it always comes from the place you visited. Another type of gift is temiyage, which is the sort of thing you’d bring to a friend or family member’s home. The same way a U.S. citizen might buy a bottle of wine before heading to a friend’s dinner party, temiyage in the form of food or flowers is considered the norm to gift your host.
Perhaps more important than when and what to give is how to give it. The Japanese have quite a few rules on giving and receiving. First, the giver must consider the number of parcels presented. Two is especially lucky, while four and nine are considered unlucky, so more isn’t necessarily better. Gifts should also be properly presented: wrapping paper or beautiful gift bags are a must! Many times, the presentation matters more than the price of the gift itself. Oh, and it’s considered especially rude to give while in the presence of others who aren’t receiving a gift; the Japanese also believe in exchanging gifts at the end of a meeting or gathering, as opposed to right away. And just as there are rules for the giver, there are rules for the receiver, too. It’s standard for a Japanese person to refuse a gift two times before accepting, and when he or she finally does take the gift, receiving it in both hands is the most respectful way.
Regardless of what occasion you’re gifting for, DHC just dropped holiday sets that are a great option for friends, family and co-workers. After all, the gift of great skin is one we all want to receive, don’t you agree? If someone in your life would benefit from our incredible skincare formulas, take it upon yourself to gift them a little DHC this December. You can shop all our gift sets on the website right now.