Gift giving is a huge part of Japanese culture. No matter the occasion--big, small, public, or private--you can guarantee a gift exchange will be taking place. Business meetings are no different, and because proper gifting standards and business etiquette in Japan are so heavily intertwined, we have put together a comprehensive list of all the Do’s and Don’ts of Corporate Gifting in Japan you could need!
Don’t rush to give your gift. Exchanging gifts at the beginning of a meeting will make it seem as though you are rushing to finish the meeting. It is best to wait until all dealings have been discussed before presenting your gift.
Remember: modesty matters. This means that you will be expected to refuse the gift up to three times before accepting. This is an important custom because it shows your appreciation for your counterpart extends beyond a gift basket.
Always give and receive a gift with both hands, as this is a traditional sign of respect.
Wait until you have left to open your present. In Japan, opening a gift in front of a group is viewed as rude behavior. To be respectful, you must practice restraint.
Speaking of rude, it is considered rude to give a gift to only one person when dealing with a large group. We recommend checking out our wide variety of Makers Gift Boxes available at the Bokksu Market for all your business gift basket needs. Each box is specially curated by Bokksu’s closest associates, like Honma Anpan, Senbei Lab, and more. Plus, the large assortments of treats per box are so unique that many of the snacks cannot be purchased anywhere individually! From sweet to heat, we have it all!
Never give a gift in a set of four or nine. The Japanese word for four, shi, also shares meaning with the Japanese word for “death,” while ku, or nine, also means “suffering.” Gifts of four or nine will be seen as unlucky or harmful, and therefore will not be accepted warmly.
Avoid handing out multiples of the same gift. Giving the same gift to two or more Japanese counterparts of unequal rank is widely frowned upon, as it shows lack of respect for the hierarchy of the office.
Gifts are expected to be wrapped, but...leave the wacky paper and ostentatious bows at home.
Certain flowers are heavily associated with flowers in Japanese culture--lilies, lotus blossoms, camellias, and white flowers of any kind are just some examples. There is also a superstition that potted plants encourage sickness, so it might be best to avoid the plants altogether.
You might think it’s a good way to get your name out there, but make sure to refrain from giving a gift with your company logo on it. Doing so will only make your gift seem impersonal and will upset your counterpart greatly. Giving and receiving gifts is always exciting, but don’t forget, the real value lies within the relationship you and your counterpart are striving to develop. As long as you remember to follow expected Japanese business etiquette protocols, be respectful, and embrace the experience, you’re sure to seal the deal!