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Gift from his parents to my parents 2008/2/23 17:20
Hello I'm a non-japanese girl who has been with a Japanese boyfriend for 4 years. recently my boyfriend's father came to the states to see his son and all three of us had dinner together. when I was leaving home, his father gave me a gift saying it was for my parents. So I thanked him and went home and gave my parents his gift. the gift was a package of Japanese sweets people can purchase from the basement of some Japanese department store. However, the gift cost 630 yen which is around $5, if you ask how I know this, it is because the receipt was still in the bag.
Now, Ifm not a materialistic person, I understand it is the thought that counts more than the price of gift. but literally that gift was from his parents to my parents, and they have never met each other.
Well my parents felt disrespected, they are both in their 60s, and to receive a $5 first official gift from my boyfriendfs parents seems like his parents donft take my parents seriously? I would feel insulted if my boyfriendfs parents give me a $5 gift, please we are not in pre-school. What makes everything worse is the receipt was still in the bag. I thought in all cultures, you should at least remove the price tag before you send your gift away.
Can someone tell me if it is Japanese norm or just his parents are cheap?
by minko  

too much 2008/2/25 11:18
I think you are making a very big issue out of a very small thing. Perhaps there is something else bothering you or your parents that lead you all to feel slighted so easily?

by Tilt rate this post as useful

... 2008/2/25 11:34
Sounds like a very typical gift to give when visiting. As for the receipt in the bag, that sounds more like the fault of the department store.

I think you may be making a big deal over a perceived slight, and that you and your family may have been expecting more because of your 4 yr relationship with his son. Very traditional Japanese families don't really consider boyfriends and girlfriends important until they become fiances. And its not uncommon to not meet your bf/gf's parents until you announce your intentions to marry. So, depending on how traditional his family is, it sounds like you got a "friend" gift rather than the "girlfriend" gift your were expecting.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

cultural differences 2008/2/25 15:58
Wow, I guess this is something you can definitely call "cultural difference", and I suppose your boyfriend was too young to notice it, or perhaps you simply haven't talked to him about this issue.

In Japan, a big gift can often be a burden to the reciever. The receiver may simply think they don't deserve it, or moreover they would have to worry about the "gift in return". In Japan, it is customary to return a gift at some point that is either equavelant or half the value of the original gift, depending on the situation.

A $5 gift means that the sender expects practically nothing in return, but wanted to express is humble greeting. The receipt, by the way, was probably left in the bag by accident. Wives usually make sure that no price is shown around the gift, but Japanese men can often be sloppy at these things. It was nice enough for the father to bother to go to the department store and buy something for your parents of whom he hadn't even met.

Perhaps it would have been more formal for the father to insist on meeting your parents so that he can give a proper greeting and thank them for all they may have done for his son. But if the son is old enough to travel abroad by himself and even have a girlfriend, it's not customary in Japan for a parent to bug in too much. Parent to parent greetings can usually wait until you two decide to get engaged.

Long story short, your boyfriend's father did what he thought was best and most honorable.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Whatever happened to... 2008/2/25 17:33
it's the thought that counts?

I agree that the receipt being in the bag was more likely the fault of the department store- a very unfortunate error in this case it seems, since the recipients are so fixated on the cost of the gift.

Are you and your parents really so materialistic that you judge people on the cost of their presents? I don't expect gifts of a certain price from anyone I know, not my husband, my parents or my husband's parents. I am pleased to receive anything I am given. How exactly is giving an inexpensive gift insulting you or your parents- do you measure your own value by the price of the things you own?

What price of gift would you have considered appropriate, and how did you arrive at that arbitrary amount?

Last time I went to see my husband's mother she gave me a small pack of black rice grown by a local farmer to try cooking- it can't have been worth more than a couple of hundred yen if I think about it, but what does that matter?

Please don't judge your boyfriend's parents on the price of their kind gesture, and try to get rid of the idea that the value of a gift lies in its retail price. My parents taught me that it is the thought behind the gift that counts, but apparently not everyone's parents teach them the same thing.
by Sira rate this post as useful

... 2008/2/25 18:03
It's not a culture thing, and his parents are not cheap. I wouldn't take it as any parents-to-parents "first official gift" kind of thing, but a "friendly hello/token."

It's just unfortunate that the dad left the receipt in the bag, (by accident) but I'd say he probably did his very best, roaming through the basement floor of a department store, which is not a place that a regular middle-aged "dad" frequents by the way, thinking maybe something along the line of "oh I should buy something nice, what should I get, what should I get, ohh this is just too usual, ummm, I don't know what they like, ummm, this could be too expensive that the recipients might worry about what to return... I wonder what my wife takes when she visits people anyway...gosh I never cared to look what she buys!! ummmm," and finally ending up with something that he thinks is nice, typically Japanese maybe, but he's probably sweating all over, and in his relief just puts the receipt and everything into the same bag, and feels he's done with his mission for the day...

I'd say it's the thought that counts. He took the care to get something for your parents :)
by AK rate this post as useful

poor dad, he tried 2008/2/25 19:52
As above, I think you are reading a bit much into this gift and placing too much importance on it. It is not a "first official gift" (does that custom actually exist?) or any kind of big deal like that- it's just something to go along with a friendly greeting.

Give your boyfriend's poor dad a break and don't judge him on a package of sweets! I'm sure he meant it kindly and had no intention of giving offense.

As you say, you are not in kindergarten anymore, so you can be adult about this situation and not worry about it, right?
by hayle rate this post as useful

come to think of it... 2008/2/25 22:58
Come to think of it, I've lived in the U.S. with my parents and I have American friends, and I can't really recall expecting more valualble gifts from them than I would expect from Japanese people in Japan. So I'm thinking that this is not a cultural difference after all.

At the same time, both in the U.S. and in Japan, I can imagine, and I have experienced, a parent saying, "For all these years, I've been doing so much for this kid in his/her parents absence, and this is all that the kid's parent can do for me?!"

I'm wondering now that perhaps Minko's parents have taken extra care of her boyfriend while he was away from his parents, such as buying him items or food and running errands for him. If that is the case, it's the boy's duty to tell his parents about it. He should tell them that he is being taken extra care of by his girlfriend's parents. Then I suppose it would be normal for the parents to write sincere letters or give them valualble gifts to express their appreciation.

However, young people, especially boys fail to report their everyday life so accurately. So his parents may not really know the details of the relationship between the boyfriend and Minko's parents.

But still, I can't understand this part;
"I would feel insulted if my boyfriendfs parents give me a $5 gift, please we are not in pre-school."

A parent giving gifts to other parents is one thing. But in Japan, a parent doesn't give valuable gifts to his child's friend unless it's a very special occation. Valualble gifts are usually sent to someone senior to you.

Either way, making a fuss over a souvenior sounds like you're from a royal or imperial family or something. I'm sure it's just a slight misunderstanding.
by Uco rate this post as useful

more on gifts 2008/2/26 10:44
I was reading in an American article about Valentine's Day recently that the "standard gift" for a couple who have been dating should less than 6 months cost around $50, and for a couple who have been together more than 2 years, $300. $300! And here I thought I was lucky if I got a box of chocolates. It seems that there are similar expectations these days for other occasions like Christmas- in another article I read a woman was extremely stressed because she felt she was expected to spend at least $500 on her boyfriend's Christmas gift and she couldn't afford it because her credit cards were already maxed out. $500! My husband and I spend the equivalent of about $100 on each other at the very most, usually less. Not because we're poor, we just don't see the point of throwing so much money around on "stuff".

Assuming Minko is from the US, it seems that recently some kind of culture of expectation as to the price of gifts has developed, along with wedding registries and baby shower registries etc, and that a lot of people, Minko included apparently, have bought into this idea and place a lot of importance on the price of a gift.

I was harsh in my answer above, but I come from a country (NZ) where thankfully we haven't reached this point of consumeristic excess (yet), and so I was shocked by the attitude Minko takes towards her boyfriend's poor father- I was also especially taken aback by the "Please, we are not in pre-school" comment. I am sorry Minko, but you come across as a spoiled princess. Give the guy a break, let it go.
by Sira rate this post as useful

Gift 2008/2/26 13:26
I have to agree with all the other posts. First of all many dads are hopeless. My dad (I was born in Europe) never had a clue about what to buy/ for whom/ when etc. we, his boys, had to buy gifts for him to give to..secondly I, LIKE MANY PEOPLE, absolutely hate to get expensive gifts for no reason at all as 1- I will have to buy something as expensive in exchange and 2-what to give to the other person when I don't really know his/her tastes!!??
Hence a small cheap gift is a token of appreciation that doesn't embarrass the recipient and doesn't start a never ending round of gifts. At least your boyfriend dad thought about your family and you should have been grateful. Living with somebody doesn't entitle you to gifts in the first place.
you and your parents need to grow up! your boyfriend bear some blame too. He, knowing your greed, should have helped his poor father.
by Monkey see rate this post as useful

material Japanese 2008/2/26 15:38
I guess I can relate to Sira's last post. Also in Japan, younger couples in recent decades have been expecting valuable gifts from their steady boy/girlfriends and spouse, as though to measure the value of the person. Valentine's, birthday and Christmas gifts that cost ten thousands of yens are the norm for some people, and this applies to the older generation as well to a certain extent. Fortunately, like Sira, I don't belong to this category. Anyway, I agree with Monkey See.
by Uco rate this post as useful

let's not 2008/2/26 17:52
There seems to be a lot of generalizing and assumption making going on here. Most likely there is something else that is really bothering the original poster, and this issue is merely a substitute.

Sira, just because you read an article does not mean that this attitude is a standard for all Americans.
by Tilt rate this post as useful

... 2008/2/26 18:01
There seems to be a lot of generalizing and assumption making going on here. Most likely there is something else that is really bothering the original poster, and this issue is merely a substitute.

Interesting theory. I figure its just a case of unmet expectations, while others have harsher opinions of the OP. I'm surprised at the overwhelming negative reactions and I think we've scared the OP away.

Sira, just because you read an article does not mean that this attitude is a standard for all Americans.

And I don't think she implied that she felt that was the case.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

gifts 2008/2/26 22:18
Minko's boyfriend's father has only done exactly what we'd all do in his situation. How many posts have we seen on here called "what present to get my bf/gf parents?" or "What should I take as a gift?" We always get the same (perfectly acceptable) answer of "something local to where you live" etc, and how it's not necessary to spend lots of money. We all know the score, in Japan, an expensive gift is seen as a bit of a burden. When I go, I take Jam - as I live near a very famous Jam makers. They love it. And again, in return I get given little bits from Japan, sweets, keyrings all gratefully recieved. We never spend more than about 5/Y1000 for friends.

Arguably I did buy my uncle a bottle of whiskey once, but that's because he let me stay at his house for 3 weeks... Your bf's dad never even met your parents. Please, be grateful that he's brought them a gift thousands of miles around the world just to give to your parents. Explain that they shouldn't be insulted, I think all the posts here have defended the poor guy's actions, and that maybe your parents are being a tiny bit unreasonable?
by furan rate this post as useful

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