Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hmmm... maybe a towel set would be a nice gift?

Just a bit earlier today, two newly moved in neighborhood families came to introduce themselves (ok, I know, just wait a little longer and the "buying a house in Japan" series will start soon!). When you do these type of introductions in Japan, it is customary to bring some sort of gift as well, nothing fancy. I'm sure there are unwritten rules written down somewhere, but they usually are worth something around max $20 something.

Today, both families gave us a towel set... The towel set is the staple of the Japanese gift giving tradition; if you have no idea what to give? Towel! Suspecting that they might be allergic to flowers? Towel! Not sure what sweets they like? Towel!

I have received towels at shops, funerals, weddings, farewell gifts from the company, moving in gifts, you name the event and I'm sure that I have received a towel from it at some point. I especially enjoy the thought of the two newly moved in families exchanging towel gifts with each other.

So yeah, if you don't know what to give a Japanese friend or acquaintance at an event? Go with the towel, I'm sure that they will treasure them with the other 50-100 towel gift sets that they have received throughout the years!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

My favourite is at the John Lennon museum in Saitama shintoshin. There's no better way to remember Lennon peace and love than a towel and pen combination set.
Get yours there, it will be closing soon!

David said...

That meat towel is cool. I want one.

Corinne said...

I scammed a towel from the poor sod trying to sell me a newspaper subscription the other day, he gave it to me despite me telling him I read the news on the Internet, and in English... I gave washing powder when I moved in the hood, figured it was something everyone always needs.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Anonymous - Absolutely! And hey, they make for fantastic gifts!

David - Well, at least it's a bit innovative... Not sure I'd wanna wipe my face with one though...

Corinne - Washing powder sounds like a pretty convenient gift and I bet that already started off a lot of talk about the strange foreigner among the neighbors... Probably some intense debates whether that is "normal" in the foreign world...

goinglocoinyokohama said...

Transferring to a new school in April, and i remember wheh other teachers left previously I was given...yappari...towels. So guess what i went shopping for this weekend? You'll never guess in a million years...(-;
Funny post!
Loco

Martin said...

An old amost forgotten european traditional mooving in gift is to give bread and salt. I think it is some sort of Polish/German thing.

aimlesswanderer said...

As bland as towels may be, aren't they at least useful in some way? Better than a horrible "ornament".

And if I got washing powder I might be offended - are you saying that I am dirty?

Perhaps something edible is a better idea. You know, the street/suburb/city/region/prefecture's speciality? Or something exotic from a few hundred kays away.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Loco - Well, I mean, as boring as they can be seen, for some reason you always find a use for a towel... So yeah, you could've done much worse!

Martin - Well, theoretically I could've given them a bag of horse manure and told them that it's traditional in Sweden!

Aimless - Yeah, we actually went with cookies for our greeting round

F-A de Montille said...

My theory is that the Japanese are secretly all fans of The hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy.

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