pron: om-ee-ah-geh

A small gift in the Japanese business context.

A very nice way to assist smooth commerce with one's Japanese business partners is to offer a small gift, or omiage, at the conclusion of your first and important subsequent meetings.

Some tips on omiage-giving:

• Think about your omiage. A gift with a high value may cause embarassment. A small token from your home country or culture is appropriate. Think quality

• Don't go overboard, but wrap your omiage beautifully, and avoid white, black, or grey paper, as this will signify funerals.

• Don't give gifts in sets of 4 or 9, which are also death-associative.

• Ensure that all attendees to the meeting receive a gift.

• Be persistent when your contacts initially refuse the gift. Smile and persist, as this is a natural dynamic in doing business in Japan.

• Don't be offended when your new Japanese friends decline to open the gift in your presence. To do so would make them appear greedy. Just smile!

• If you're really stuck for ideas, whisky will always serve your purposes well.

Above all, enjoy the process! It is a rare treat that can cap a meeting off beautifully.

What simonc describes is merely one type of omiage; not even the most common one. Usually, it is expected from someone who goes on a journey to bring back gifts for their friends, family and co-workers who didn't come along; this is seen as a sort of apology for enjoying yourself while they were not. It is not optional, and often, people will approach you and actively ask for their omiage. However, the gift is not required to be anything special; in fact, many large train stations and airports in Japan have shops where you can buy the standard gifts from many different places, in case you forgot (or were too lazy) to buy them at the place you went to.

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