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Lesson Transcript


Becky: Hello, and welcome to JapanesePod101.com. This is Introduction to Business Culture, Lesson 10, Exchanging Gifts. In this lesson, we’ll teach you how to give souvenirs and gifts. I’m Becky.
Risa: ...and I’m Risa.
Becky: Japan has a custom of giving gifts to colleagues or bosses at fixed times throughout the year and of buying souvenirs to bring back to colleagues and family while traveling.
Risa: So, when you visit a Japanese company from your country, it’s a good idea to bring souvenirs.
Becky: In this lesson, we’ll see the meaning of souvenirs and how to give them in a professional way.

Lesson focus

Risa: When we travel, we always bring something back for our family, friends, and co-workers.
Becky: This is not only for long trips abroad, but also for short domestic trips and day trips. Rather than buying several gifts for each individual person, an assortment of small sweets is common.
Risa: Right. “Souvenir” in Japanese is 土産 (miyage).
Becky: Whenever you travel in Japan, you will always see a lot of sweets sold in boxes at sightseeing spots that are suitable for souvenirs. How long has buying souvenirs been a tradition in Japan?
Risa: It is thought that it started more than a hundred years ago.
Becky: Traveling was not easy then. Sometimes, members of a community were sent to a distant temple as representatives of their community, and they shared what they brought back from the temple with the other members who stayed behind. What is the reason behind buying souvenirs now?
Risa: They show our thanks for being able to travel and for having the time to travel.
Becky: Also when visiting an individual's house or visiting a company, you should take a souvenir. It means that you are thankful for having the others prepare for your visit and take the time to welcome you.
Risa: We call that 手土産 (te-miyage).
Becky: As well as travel souvenirs, people often take baked goods and rice crackers so that all the members of a family or company can share. When coming to Japan from abroad, things from your country would be good.
Risa: It’s better to choose something common and famous, rather than expensive or unusual things.
Becky: Each region in Japan has a souvenir it’s famous for, so that’s a better choice than something strange and different. Now, let’s hear the rules for giving and receiving a gift.
Risa: There are three main rules to keep in mind. Becky, help me list them.
Becky: Sure. First, bring the souvenir in a handy paper bag, but don’t forget to take it out of the bag when handing it over.
Risa: Second, hold it with both hands.
Becky: And hand it over with both hands while turning in front of your partner.
Becky: Finally, hand it over by saying "this is for you all" or "I hope you'll like it." Risa, when is the best time to give a souvenir?
Risa: After the greeting.
Becky: And when you are visiting a company for the first time?
RIsa: Do it after exchanging business cards and introducing yourself.
Becky: Besides souvenirs from home and traveling souvenirs, there are also two seasons to give gifts. The first is called...
Risa: お中元 (o-chūgen)
Becky: This is between the beginning and the middle of July. The second season is
Risa: お歳暮 (o-seibo)
Becky: This is between the middle and the end of December. During these periods, people give gifts to their relatives and those who have helped them.
Risa: Some companies give gifts to their clients, too.


Becky: Those are the key facts about giving souvenirs and gifts. If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes. Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
Risa: Bye!