I am sure throughout this year you had encountered professionally or privately people, who had made a difference for you. Now as the year draws to a close, looking back now maybe you are grateful for a smooth running business relationship, a business deal that went through, continued support towards you and your company or just simply a higher ranking person at your company or somewhere else that you respect and depend on for your professional future. From a Western viewpoint it can be rather difficult to understand this kind of appreciation of the interdependence. Let me put it simple who might be a potential “Oseibo” receiver: If anyone in your professional or private surrounding related to Japan – plus she or he belongs not to your family or is a relative – makes your life easier, you have the person that you should present with an “Oseibo”.
So what is exactly an “Oseibo”? I would call it an “end-of-the-year gift”, but don’t compare or replace it with something like a Christmas present. It is gift giving with a Japanese culture flavor, which is specifically given to pay back favors received during the year, a way to say thank you before the year ends.
The Japanese etiquette says that the receiver should get these gifts by December 20th or otherwise you might offend the receiver. Rather common is to buy this year-end present at department stores, post offices or even convenience stores, then you can have the store deliver the gifts. Of course it is possible to bring your gift in person. The range of the commonly used gifts range from JPY 3,000 to about JPY 20,000. Most likely it is something that has not to be consumed very quickly. Popular items are ham, cooking oil, gift certificates, beer, canned food, coffee, cookies/cakes, seaweed, fruits or similar. The type and cost of the gift depends on your relationship with the recipient.
I got everything delivered in time, but how about you?
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)