Thursday, June 19, 2014

Will Miss #543 - "gift" wrapping

Dave Barry tells a story in his "Dave Barry Does Japan" book about a woman whose son gives his son a small gift-wrapped package that contains candy. Since it is not likely that the boy was carrying around candy in case he ran into a child that he wanted to give a little present to, Barry is initially puzzled as to how the Japanese boy was able to produce such a present so rapidly. He finds out that one can get even a bit of candy bought at a kiosk gift-wrapped in Japan. It's a small and insignificant item that costs about 100 yen (about a dollar), but you can still get a clerk to wrap it up as a gift for you.

There were some little touches to life in Japan that I didn't think I'd miss, but now that I'm back in the U.S., I find that I do. On occasion, I've wanted to pick up a little something and give it to someone as a gift - a nice bar of chocolate, a candle, or a box of cookies. At such times, I am left with only two options. I can take it home and wrap it myself or hand it over in the plastic shopping bag (assuming I got one) that I purchased it in.

In Japan, in nearly any type of store, you can probably get someone to do some sort of gift wrap on an item you buy and I miss the way in which you could have nearly any item, no matter how big or small, gift-wrapped in Japan. 


  1. Our neighbor frequently comes over with little bags of junk food for my child. Due to the repetition of the treats I’m pretty sure they buy them in bulk and divvy them out when needed. Despite this, every time the package of goodies comes in a cute decorative plastic bag. I don’t think I’ll ever get over acquaintances giving my child large sums of money, either. (And of course the money comes in adorable cartoon festooned envelopes as well.)

  2. As you know, gift giving is a very important part of Japanese society. In some ways, it is a big part of the 'glue' which holds the society together. Thus, it has evolved its own rituals, including the wrapping of objects, special envelopes for money, etc.

    It can be at least charming, if not heartwarming, when considered in the context of Western society's lack of such practices. But some Japanese people complain about it as a 'burden' that must be met even when one does not really feel like doing it. And there are others, largely Westerners, who complain, from an ecological perspective, about the amount of paper, cardboard, etc that gets 'wasted' in the process.

  3. One Christmas I had bought several of my gifts at one of the bigger department stores in Osaka. My family was amazed at how the whole thing was wrapped and sealed with one piece of tape. They spend more time trying to replicate the wrapping than using the gift.
    Another thing is that in Japan you can get the clerks to put dust jackets on books. I always found that interesting, despite only taking advantage of it once.

    1. I had forgotten completely about the dust jackets for books! With e-books nowadays I wonder how many people actually buy hold-em-in-your-hands books anymore there.....

    2. Considering that annual book sales in Japan for 2013 were approximately 1.04 trillion JPY, with 1.2 billion books sold, quite a few.



Comments are moderated and will not show up immediately. If you want to make sure that your comment survives moderation, be respectful. Pretend you're giving feedback to your boss and would like a raise when you're speaking. Comments that reflect anger or a bad attitude on the part of the poster will not be posted. I strongly recommend reading the posts "What This Blog Is and Is Not" and "Why There Were No Comments" (in the sidebar under "FYI") before commenting.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.