December 15, 1999 Wrap it Up!
Last Thursday was my turn to give a presentation at our monthly office lunch. So Wednesday night, as I desperately tried to figure out what I was going to do, it struck me. Inspired by Christmas, I decided to talk about gift-giving.
I already knew that gift-giving is one of the most important parts of the holidays. Stores are open late, people are rushing to find the perfect gift, and children are hoping that Santa will fulfill all their wish lists. But as a part of the business world, I wanted to know more about why and how people give gifts.
The Internet was an invaluable resource at this last-minute information-gathering time. I found many different sites that detailed different gift-giving habits and customs in different countries. I was intrigued by many of these differences-Did you know that most countries have “rules” for gift-giving? For example, people in Japan never give gifts in sets of 4 or 9, because they sound similar to the Japanese words for death. For similar reasons, red isn’t appropriate in Africa, and white, black and blue are unacceptable in China.
I learned a lot, thought it was pretty cool, and wanted to share it with my co-workers.
Because PacRim works very closely with several companies in Japan, understanding the Japanese way of gift-giving is particularly necessary. One very important part of Japan’s gift-giving protocol is the wrapping. Unlike the American style where gift-wrapping is more of a craft than a policy, the Japanese value the presentation of a gift by its wrapping. Everything bought in Japan is always wrapped nicely and most stores have their own wrapping paper, tape and ribbons.
For many people in Hawaii, the only time we get to see the Japanese way of wrapping is at stores like Shirokiya, where they usually have a wrapping table at Christmastime. I was always fascinated with the way they wrapped gifts, for it isn’t the conventional way my mom taught me. They put the box at a diagonal, and then turn it over, folding up the flaps, and not using any tape until the very end. My Japanese friends laugh when I tell them how interesting it is, but I think it’s not unusual for many locals in Hawaii.
I decided to teach my co-workers a basic diagonal “Japanese-style” wrap. I was pleased at how receptive they were, and especially grateful that my Japanese co-workers didn’t seem to be too bored! (Gosh, Tsuyoshi-san is really good at it!)
Since then, I’ve been wrapping gifts every night. I found this great book, 150 Gift-Wrapping Ideas, by Yoshiko Hase. It is filled with pages on how to wrap, and how to create different bows and ribbons. This year, I’ve been trying to experiment with my gift-wrapping, using this book as a reference. Yesterday, I bought baskets from Lanakila Crafts (1809 Bachelot St. in Liliha). They have great baskets, koa bowls, and other craft items at reasonable prices!
My finished products aren’t impressive, but I had fun learning and experimenting with it this year. I have always believed that it’s important to see a project through ‘til the end, and gift-giving is no different. Always remember to wrap it up!
Susan Sensei’s English Lesson #9(スーザン先生の英語講座 その9）
◆“May I have a box, please?”
Happy Shopping in Hawaii!
|Loco Girl’s Profile(ロコ・ガールのプロフィール）
Born in Hilo, I grew up going fishing with Dad, shopping with Mom, and trying to be a good “big sister” to a younger sister and brother. A Waiakea High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa alumni, I taught English in Japan for two years on the JET Program, and am now employed at PacRim Marketing Group, Inc. I love doing a lot of things-shopping, reading, lettering, making jewelry & crafts, watching Friends-and that’s just the start of my list! I like being busy, and am active with the JET Alumni Association (JETAA) and the Honolulu Junior Japanese Chamber of Commerce (HJJCC.) My family and friends are, of course, very important to me, and are why I live a very typical, happy, local-style life in Hawaii and will never leave!