Gift exchange is a core element of business etiquette and Japanese cultural customs. Varied occasions call for you to give gifts to your boss, colleagues, or friends in Japan. Previously we wrote about the Giri choco on Valentine’s Day and White Day. You should bring an omiyage home from your trip. In addition to the end-of-year gift of Oseibo, the middle-of-year gift of O-chugen is an expression of gratitude. Business associates, students, and teachers exchange gifts. So, when you receive them, you should also reciprocate.
With thousands of years of culture, history, and beliefs, Japan is a country where things may mean more than you think. For this reason, learning the dos and don’ts of Japanese gift-giving is significant.
We researched the mid-year O-chugen gift exchange and put together a few tips to help you to select perfect flowers of courtesy in the O-chugen season – and hand them over without any faux-pas.
Gifts Exchange – Practical Tradition
Politeness is a desire to be treated politely, and to be esteemed and polite to oneself.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Gift-giving stretches for almost the entire July and early August. The tradition of giving gifts in the middle of summer came from ancient China, where on July 15, people celebrated the birthday of a God who was merciful and forgiving of sins. According to another version, a Buddhist custom associated with the souls of ancestors joined this date. Modern times have transformed this into a practice of giving gifts to elders: relatives, bosses, regular customers, and teachers.
You should choose practical presents: they can be delicious meat, soft drinks, a set of towels, or even a collection of washing powder. Etiquette guides remind us that we need to put our soul into a gift. Gifts without souls don’t make anyone happy. Fortunately, giving your soul is very easy when there is an entire industry for this: choose, purchase, and pack a gift impeccably.
Gift Exchange Ideas
If you visit a Japanese company, stay with a Japanese family, or meet with Japanese business partners, the question of choice of the best present always arises.
You are welcome to bring food (especially sweets like cakes, cookies, etc.) from your region. Women can appreciate flowers but steer clear of white flowers, lotus blossoms, and lilies because they are associated with funerals. Further, potted plants can cause sickness, so you should choose something else.
A high-quality bottle of alcohol or pen, as well as a cardholder, is a nice touch. You should never put your company’s logo on business gifts, even if they are a little expensive.
A typical meal from your region or country will be the best choice when visiting your host family.
You can add flowers to the main present or even give floral gifts to express your sympathy. For centuries, the Japanese have given flowers not only to women but to men, too. So, a bouquet of daffodils and a box of wine and cheese may well be presented to the boss and business partners. It is an ideal way to express your profound respect for them because flowers help where words are not enough.
Flowers of Courtesy: Chrysanthemums or Roses for
Gift Exchange Season
In Japan, flowers that are customary to give for any occasion are chrysanthemums. Chrysanthemum is not just a flower but also one of the symbols of the Country of the Rising Sun. The chrysanthemum proudly flaunts on the coat of arms, and you can meet it in any settlement, up to the most remote villages. In general, chrysanthemums appeared in Asia and have always been popular in this region. But only the Japanese go crazy over them.
And, of course, roses. In general, the rose, without any doubt, can be considered the most popular flower in the world. There is no country where they would be absolutely indifferent to it. In this regard, the Japanese are not original at all. They love roses just like everyone else in the world. But not everyone knows that for the inhabitants of Japan, roses have different meanings, depending on the color.
Red is love and romance. Men give bouquets of red roses when they want to show how much they admire their chosen ones. Yellow roses symbolize jealousy and envy in Japan. It is easy to guess that yellow roses are not the right gift for anyone – unless they specifically ask for them. In the case of white: they are more suitable for couples who have been building their relationship for a long time. They mean loyalty. As such, they are often a gift for anniversaries. Moreover, you can use them as an addition to a gift to your business partner, with whom you have worked for many years.
And finally, we have got to the perfect colors of flowers of courtesy: pink roses. These roses symbolize trust or happiness. They are often not reserved for lovers, and it is common for parents, close friends, coworkers, and superiors to receive them. Pink roses are beautiful and are great for expressing sympathy or adding to a gift. Roses are becoming more popular every year, and this is, without a doubt, the influence of Western culture. Perhaps, someday they will be as in demand as chrysanthemums.
Flowers are a win-win option as the main O-chugen gift and as an addition to the gift of courtesy.
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Born in Nalchik in 1966, graduated with a major in English Lit, and working as a school teacher since 1990. My interests are diverse: music, good literature, and computer technology at the user level. I like to try new things, and I bring what I started to its logical conclusion. Oh! And I do love my pets! I’m already 54 and I still believe in miracles and hobbits with elves and Gandalf. I myself am a bit of an adventuress like a hobbit, and I love mushrooms, too, like they do.