Tipping and Gift-giving in Japan

Debbie was kind enough to share her experience of tipping and gift-giving in Japan…

There are two gift-giving seasons in Japan: summer and winter. Gifts are often seasonal agricultural produce, or commercial products that are useful in daily living, like boxes of soaps or tea or seaweed. But the gifts usually go to people like your boss at work, or your family doctor, or your landlord, or the people who served as "matchmaker" for your marriage. Not to "common" laborers (although they may receive a bonus from their employers).

With the burst of the bubble economy, there is much less gift-giving than there used to be, and fewer seasonal bonuses from the boss. For the past 15 years we have sent two cases of locally produced lily roots each winter: one to an appreciated doctor and the other to the family who helped us in countless ways when we were a very young, clueless couple in a new, and unfamiliar, city.

I do send etegami, and sometimes homemade Christmas cookies, to the woman who cuts my hair, the local post office, and other people I depend on for various services, but that is unusual in Japan and often confuses the recipient.

That is my experience anyway.

Many thanks to Debbie, aka Dosankodebbie, for sharing information about traditions in Japan!  Debbie has a wonderful blog which talks about her etegami and shows her work.  You can find it at Dosankodebbie’s Etegami Notebook.


Please let us know how you tip in your country in the comments below. Please let us know the state or country you live in and type of area (suburbs, city, etc.). You don’t have to use your name.

You can read more about tipping around the world here.

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Saturday, December 22nd, 2012 at 6:50 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Gift Giving, Gift Giving in Japan, Japan, Tipping. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply