Why Japanese Gift Wrapping is More Important than the Gift Itself

Japanese Gift Wrapping is almost always just an afterthought, but it’s what’s inside that counts, after all. Not a lot of people bother with wrapping their gifts beautifully.

Admit it – when you receive a gift, your first instinct is to tear the wrapper excitedly so you can find out and appreciate what’s inside. This must be the reason why gift wrappers are still a thing. Not a lot of people bother with wrapping their gifts beautifully. Some people do not even bother wrapping their gifts at all.

The Japanese are known for doing things traditionally – and beautifully. This extends to their gift wrapping customs.

It’s Not Just the Thought that Counts

While the gift itself is important, the way the present is wrapped is important because the way the present is wrapped speaks volumes about the intent. Everything – from the materials used to the color of the gift wrapper – has a meaning.

Gift Wrap Colors: The Good and the Bad

For birthdays and other happy occasions, red is a good color for your wrap as it symbolizes longevity and energy. You can combine it with white when you are giving a present to newlyweds. Cheerful colors, such as pastels, particularly pink and yellow, are safe bets for other occasions. Pastels work, too, when you are exchanging presents with relatives, friends, or co-workers.

Generally, black is frowned upon unless you present the gift to individuals grieving a loved one’s death. You must also be careful with how you combine your colors. Steer clear of overly bright colors, too, as they are too flashy and might send the wrong message.


Colorful paper and intricate ribbons make for a beautiful presentation if you want a truly traditional way of wrapping your gifts.

These beautiful pieces of cloth are made of different fabrics, including the finest silk, rayon, nylon, and cotton. They come in different sizes, too, and unique prints and colors. There are several ways to use it – you can wrap it to resemble a body bag, a hand-carry bag with a sling.

Presenting your gift in a furoshiki also has ecological advantages, by not using paper bags or plastic bags. It also allows you to present your recipient with another gift.

To ensure that your intention and your message are never misinterpreted, it is best to have your gift wrapped by the proper Japanese traditions the first time. After all, to them, it is not just the thought that counts.

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