Home to the world’s most populous metro and an incredible mix of quirk and culture, Japan is arguably one of the most functional territories in the world, despite its overall population density which can be attributed to 67% of its land being covered by forests and mountains. Not only are the Japanese self-elected custodians of their land and responsible for its upkeep, but they also harbor a passion for all things science, the auto industry, environmental sciences, and research.
From video games to culture, cuisine, and innovation, Japan has exported much more than they’ve imported, leaving room for other regions to introduce their offerings, including in business. In this article, we’ll look at Japan’s corporate gifting culture and highlight ways that you can wow your Japan-based clients, staff and prospects without seeming too culture-focused or generic.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Sending Gifts to Japan
Above and beyond their diverse culture, and politics, Japanese people value giving and have attached great meaning to the exchange of gifts, whether business or personal. There is little to no distinction between general gifting standards and business etiquette, as these two elements are greatly intertwined. As such, it’s vital for anyone with corporate interests in Japan to understand this culture and be wary of the dos and don’ts. Let’s look at a few.
DO offer gift tokens to all of your associates or staff. It is considered rude and a sign of inequality to offer gifts to only a select few. There are exceptions to this rule, however. Individual gifts may be offered for birthdays, anniversaries, and people-specific celebrations.
DO continue to resend the gift invitation at least 3 times even when gifts are rejected. For the Japanese, it is customary to display mild modesty by refusing a gift offer at least three times before finally accepting. Strange as it may sound, the Japanese believe that this act highlights that the giver’s value (to the receiver) extends far beyond a gift offer.
DO wait until the business is concluded and deals are closed before offering gifts. This way, you do not lead your associates to believe that you only care about concluding business, and not about the experience.
DON’T offer gifts that come in sets of four or nine. The word ‘four’ is associated with death and nine with suffering and misfortune.
DON’T offer gifts of similar value to associates of different ranking. The Japanese see this as disrespect for the hierarchy. Gift each according to their status.
DON’T overly wrap your gifts in neon and bows. Gifts should indeed be wrapped, but not exaggeratedly so.
DON’T offer flowers as gifts as too many are associated with Japanese culture. Lotuses, camellias, white flowers, and pot plants are just a few examples of flowers that represent the supernatural, and symbolize noble death. Given that distinguishing between the culture-friendly and unacceptable may prove difficult, it’s best to stick to generic gifts.
DON’T offer gifts with any names or company logos on them. While this may defeat the purpose of communicating your brand and creating familiarity, your Japanese recipients may view these gifts as marketing, instead of a sign of gratitude and recognition of value.
When launching a corporate gifting campaign targeted at your Japanese associates, staff, and prospects, it is paramount to make the experience the focus of the exchange. The purpose of the gift far outweighs the gift itself, so make sure that gifts trigger emotions, offer an experience, and introduce new ideas (without taking the shape of a sales pitch).
Public Holidays in Japan
Japanese New Year – January 1
Coming of Age Day – January 10
National Foundation Day – February 11
Vernal Equinox Day – March 21
Shōwa Day – April 29
Constitution Memorial Day – May 3
Culture Day – November 3
Labor Thanksgiving Day – November 23
Christmas Day – December 25
Why Use A Corporate Gifting Platform?
When launching your campaigns through the Giftsenda corporate gifting platform, guesswork is eliminated from the process, and you can be sure that culturally inappropriate gifts will not make it into your cart. This is because:
- The Giftsenda team has 20 years of international gift delivery experience and a deep understanding of the gifting cultures, norms, and traditions of every region we service.
- Gift items are sourced locally. This way, items align with cultural preferences and adhere to general gifting etiquette rules.
- Recipients have an option to choose from a variety of gift items available in our Gift Catalog and this eliminates chances of inappropriate or offensive gift item selections.
- Recipients can either accept, swap, or donate their gift items.
- Gift offers are sent electronically and without the need for actual home addresses. This way, a sense of formality is preserved, and recipients can decide where these are to be delivered.
- Resending gift invites is easy – enabling you to increase the chances of your gift being accepted, even if it takes sending the invite 3 times.
Ready to get started with corporate gifting on a global scale? Book a 30-minute demo with one of our Gift Campaign Managers to see how our gifting platform works and to get access to a free trial.