Babies and gift giving in Japan

Here are some of the cool presents that Yoshi`s family and friends have given Aiden to celebrate his birth.

A bebe pod chair (for babies aged 3+ months, to practice sitting up)

A ride-on Rody horse

Miki house shoes
This amazing Star-Lite bouncer / swing (with lights in the canopy, an Mp3 dock, swing settings, lullabies and more!)

Ralph Lauren bibs, towels and socks

Comme Ca jacket

Dolce & Gabana onesie and bib

Various other clothes

A Toys R Us gift card

Various amounts of cash (which we will put into a bank account for Aiden)

These presents are called oiwai (celebration and congratulations) and are wrapped in special paper that looks like this...

Money is usually presented in a special envelope (noshibukuro) tied with a cord. If you plan to give money as a gift, make sure to check the outside of the envelope first. Each type of occasion (wedding, funeral, birth) has different kanji characters written on it. It would be terrible to buy and give the wrong envelope!

In general, gifts are given for weddings, and when babies are born and there are lots of special rules regarding such gifts. If cash presents are given, they must be odd-numbered amounts (like 30,000yen or 50,000 yen) because other numbers (especially 4) are considered bad luck.

Another part of this gift giving culture is the return gift (okaeshi). If someone is nice enough to give you a present, you are kind of obliged to give one in return (usually worth about 50% of the value of the first present).
    The Japanese love to give gifts. This habit is not practiced only on special occasions, but it's widely accepted as giri - a social duty and obligation. Gift-giving is an accepted practice encountered everyday, from taking a little something to a neighbor to receiving an extra radish from the greengrocer. If you give someone a gift, you can be sure to receive one in return. And, if you want a gift, you must give one first.

So I am currently pondering the okaeshi gifts. Have you ever given these before? For our wedding, we gave Japanese guests some New Zealand themed gifts (Manuka honey and gorgeous glassware), and the non-Japanese guests some Japanese themed gifts (roll cake and Japanese pottery). But how about for a new baby?

I checked online and found some cheesy? / interesting? gifts with the new baby`s face printed on the packaging (e.g. cakes, wine, fruit juice, chopsticks, hand towels).

I need more time to think...


  1. We did cake with Shou, loose leaf tea in a cool can with her name and photo on it for Marina and the yummiest chocolate moose gift sets from Kobe for Ryu. I got more daring and finally decided to give back something I actually had tried and liked :)

    Big huh though. There are so many cool catalogues out there. Good Luck :)


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