In Japanese culture, gifts are exchanged for various occasions; however, birthday gifts are not traditionally given. That being said, influences from the West have altered this tradition, making it not uncommon for friends and family to exchange birthday presents. When purchasing a Japanese gift, avoid items that consist of the number four or comes in four parts as this number is believed to cause bad luck.
Daruma dolls, traditional Japanese good luck charms, are modeled after the Indian priest Bodhidharm who introduced Zen Buddhism to China. Daruma dolls are traditionally made of paper mache and are weighted on the bottom, causing the doll to wobble when pushed. These dolls are believed to be a symbol of good fortune and strong determination.
Cherry Blossom Room Divider
Cherry blossoms are highly symbolic in Japan. Among other things, the form and color of cherry blooms are believed to reflect the traditional Japanese values of purity and simplicity. A cherry blossom room divider beautifully displays this symbolic flower on a piece of furniture that can serve a functional or aesthetic purpose.
Calligraphy is a popular Japanese hobby that many people learn in elementary school. A calligraphy set includes a shitajiki (mat), bunchin (paper weight), hanshi (calligraphy paper), fude (brush), suzuri (ink container) and sumi (material that produces ink).
Origami Paper and Book
Paper was first introduced to Japan during the sixth century C.E. by Buddhist monks. It is from that point that paper folding evolved into the art form known as origami. Thousands of origami designs exist at all skill levels and can be personalized by using origami paper of different sizes, textures and colors. An origami instructional book for beginning or advanced paper folders along with unique origami paper makes a great gift for the creative person in your life who loves all things Japanese.
Bonsai Tree and Book
The word "bonsai" means "tree-in-a-pot" in both the Japanese and Chinese languages. A tree-in-a-pot becomes a bonsai when it has been pruned, shaped and trained to grow in a specific shape. Although a basic form of bonsai originated in China, it was in Japan that the art of bonsai was refined. If the Japanese person in your life loves gardening, consider buying him a bonsai tree and a book detailing how to care for the tree.
Crystal Bonser has been working as a freelance writer and editor for an educational website since 2009. She is also the creator of a pet-loss website on which she facilitates weekly grief support groups. Bonser holds a Bachelor of Social Work and a minor in psychology from Ryerson University.