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The Japanese Art of Gift Wrapping– Why I Love Shopping in Japan

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What did we say at every cash register in Japan?

“Yes, gift please.”

Linds and I quickly learned that uttering these three magic words at any Japanese shop meant the difference between a nicely packaged purchase and a spectacularly packaged purchase. This Japanese attention to presentation and service has deep roots in Japanese culture– anything you buy will at minimum come bundled in multiple layers of wrap, carefully tied up with string or a bow. And if it’s a gift, get ready for the deluxe treatment, usually at no extra cost.

Soon, “yes, gift please” became our standard response at the register. No matter if we were buying a $5 dish towel, everything was a gift, some of these gifts just happened to be for us.

Which brings us to the umbrella.   Did I need an umbrella, even a cute Japanese umbrella, if it meant trying to wedge it diagonally into my already stuffed suitcase?

No, but I definitely needed an umbrella that the attendant placed in its own custom-sized box, tied up with silky gold ribbon, then placed in its own carrying bag, complete with shoulder sling.

kyoto shopping gift umbrella

The umbrella miraculously crossed the Pacific fully intact. It now does double duty as a sun parasol and rain umbrella. The sling bag is perfect for toting it around.

Unwrapping our Japanese “gifts” at home later was almost as much fun as watching them wrapped by the expert attendants. It definitely made me aware of how important presentation is to the shopping and gift giving experience. So I think the next time I am wrapping presents I’ll take a cue from the Japanese and skip the recycled gift bags and stick-on bows and try my hand at actually wrapping a gift the old-fashioned way.

How important is presentation to your shopping experience?  Share in the comments below!

Japanese Souvenir shopping details:
Umbrella, about $25 US (many of the umbrellas are made in Japan).
Marui Department Store, Kyoto– located right across the street from the train station at the intersection of Kawaramachi-dori and Shijo-dori, Shimogyo Ward

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Saturday 21st of December 2013

Now I feel dumb for not having done the same! The sling bag looks very useful!

Kristin Francis

Saturday 21st of December 2013

I have used it a couple of times! Thanks so much for commenting!