Japanese Cultural Event – Ochugen
Gift-giving is very popular in Japan and is a part of their culture. ?One such event is “ochugen,” which is derived from Taoism’s “chugen,” which was an event around July 15th when people asked the gods for forgiveness of their sins. ?The Bon Festival (Buddhist) also took place on July 15th and is a service to honor the deceased. ?The two events merged and were a way to give presents to those two whom a person was indebted and thus emerged ochugen. ?In the Edo era (1603-1868), people began giving gifts to others besides family, for services rendered, such as matchmakers, doctors, teachers and company bosses, to say “thank you.”
What types of gifts are given?
Ochugen happens between July 15th and August 15th, during the middle of summer. ?Keeping in the culture of Japan, people most often give food as gifts, mostly seasonal food items. ?That includes ice cream, cake, meat (seafood too!), noodles, vegetables, drinks, etc. ?Japan truly has a food loving culture! ?People usually try to keep in mind what a person enjoys and gives that as a gift. ?The Lawson convenience store has a catalog for ochugen gifts and really, it’s like looking at a grocery store ad for regular items, as well as those catalogues you get at Christmas with the special meats and cheeses, cakes and cookies. ?You can access the Lawson catalog here: ?http://lawson-gift.jp/dpm/201103/fbook.html
The cost of ochugen ranges from 2,000 to 10,000 yen, though those who are more wealthy spend more. ?Ochugen is meant to be a “thank you” event, to show appreciation.