@ Our Return-Gift Culture お返しの文化

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Feb 4, 2011 23:17

Today, I would like to talk about our reciprocal culture. You might already know that we have a "giving something in return" culture in Japan, "okaeshi-no-bunka" in Japanese.

Last month, an American lady got into a bit of a bind and asked me to translate a letter for her into Japanese in order to help her make things better.

Well, here is the thing. Her Japanese husband passed away from cancer, and she held funeral rites in a church. Her husband's relatives, friends and business associates attended the funeral. Of course, they brought condolence money as part of the ritual procedures.

She used the money for a cremation, and made a donation to the church without knowing our "return-culture."

In our culture, we send a return gift to each person who gives condolence money. The return gift should generally be half the price of the original gift.

The American lady didn't seem to have enough money to send return gifts. She had to apologize courteously to all participants for being unable to offer them return gifts in her letter. I hope that even though they are Japanese, they understand her situation from her letter.

Come to think of it, on Valentine's day, even if you get chocolates from 10 Japanese girls, you have to return a gift to each girl in a month. The return gift should be two or three times the cost of the Valentine's gift, we say! (^^)

Would you do it? Or would you write a letter to say you can't?