Gift exchanges are very common in Japan. We already discussed the types of gifts you can give in a previous blog
. But let’s go a little bit deeper and discuss how your gift may be received. For example, when you give a gift to an international business partner, it may not be opened in front of you. And that’s okay. It’s not a sign of a disrespect, it’s a cultural difference.
For the recipient of your gift, not opening it in front of you is a way of being polite and respectful. Some people are more Westernized and understand the difference in cultures, so they may ask if it’s okay to open the gift in front of you when they receive it.
You will also notice they won’t rip the wrapping paper. It’s considered rude if you rip it apart. Instead, they carefully open the wrap, unfolding the sides.
If you are the gift recipient, you might be surprised at how much effort went into putting your package together. Presentation is a very important piece of Japanese culture, so your gift box was probably wrapped and then placed into another nicely decorated bag before being carefully handed over to you.
When you consider the fine presentation of food at a Japanese restaurant, it shouldn’t surprise you how much effort goes into wrapping a gift. The presentation in itself sends an important message to the recipient.
Knowing this, here’s a word of advice when receiving a beautifully wrapped gift from your international business partner: don’t rip through the paper! And if you’re giving a gift, don’t toss it across the table. Wrap it up nicely and hand it over delicately. The extra effort will be appreciated!