Skip to main content
U.S. Edition
Search
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TRAVEL

Japan's art of giving gifts

story.japan.gifts.jpg
The typical range for approved gifts in Japan is around $100.

QUICKVOTE

Do you give gifts when you travel for business?
Yes, all the time
Yes, sometimes
No, never
or View Results

BUSINESS TRAVELLER

RESOURCES

YOUR SAY

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

Biz Traveller
Japan
Department stores
Retail

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- When traveling for business, one of the biggest challenges is knowing what gift to give work colleagues or partners overseas to strengthen a relationship.

Japan is one culture where giving and receiving presents is crucial and now is the summer season of "Ochugen," or gift giving.

Some of these corporate gifts do not come cheap. At the Mitsukoshi Department Store, presents such as a $300 bottle of sake, or Japanese rice wine, is just one of the many given to clients. The store believes it is an important cultural practice.

"Japanese people value politeness and formality. This is a national characteristic and gift giving has existed for a long time in our society," says Megumi Kosaki, who works at the store.

"In many corporations, people send gifts to their bosses, as well as their clients to show their gratitude and that they care."

Kwintessential, an intercultural training firm, advises companies to do their research before traveling, so they know what is expected of them.

"All the gift giving and hospitality is very much ritual based. There is a lot of tradition," says Kate Berardo one of the trainers at Kwintessential.

"There are also a lot of unwritten rules -- when you sit down to a meal there will be a hierarchy that represents people's power, based on where people sit."

In Japan a gift is also symbolic of a person's status. Berardo believes it is important not to give the same gift to two people with different roles in an organization.

It is generally customary to give gifts that you have purchased from back home. This is a way of bridging the divide between cultures.

You should also take time to think about the color and symbolism. For example, the number four is associated with death in Japan, while the number two is considered lucky, while white flowers are given only in times of bereavement.

Once you have decided on cultural considerations, there is the issue of cost. The typical range for approved gifts in Japan is around $100. But sometimes your business partners will have their own rules.

If you are given a gift that you consider inappropriate according to company directives -- say about the amount the gift is worth -- you should handle the situation very carefully.

"It is important to remember the concept of face in Asian cultures and you should never embarrass somebody," says Berardo.

"It may mean accepting the gift initially and then reviewing your corporate policy -- if you cannot accept the gift, find a diplomatic way to return it."

While it is important to stay in your client's good books, make sure your own books look equally as good for the regulators.

Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
CNN U.S.
CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines