Gift Giving In Japan: Sad, Happy, Overjoyed? Have A Towel

TOKYO - It’s no secret that Japan loves gifts. Whenever a co-worker returns from a holiday or business trip, they’ll bring you something small from the region. Other gifts are often exchanged when visiting a home, celebrating a festival, or when you simply haven’t seen someone in a while.

But what about when you don’t know the person that well? What’s a good house-warming gift for your neighbor or when you want to apologize? Well, then you’d give them a towel of course! What else?

If you’re not from Japan, a towel may not be what first comes to mind, so let’s learn more about this cultural phenomenon.

There is a good reason for giving towels as a gift. Towels are made by weaving threads together, which makes them a good omen for lasting relationships.

With that in mind, towels are also considered a nice wedding gift, as they are reminiscent of the “Red Thread of Fate” that connects two destined lovers. Money is usually given to newlyweds in Japan, rather than material gifts, so a towel set is a nice extra if you want to give them something physical, too.

Towels are also used to help make you clean, so they are associated with the idea of ridding your life of unpleasantness or anything unwanted. Many also think of towels as the embodiment of “this too shall pass.”

- Author: Cassandra Lord, Japan Today


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