Monday, December 12, 2011

Gift for Senior Executive

I will be travelin to Japan next week and would like to take a gift to a senior executive of a large global Japanese 150 yr. owned company. Can anyone who has experience with the Japanese and know the culture well suggest something? I am from the U.S., specifically Texas.

Gift for Senior Executive

Something that represents where you are from seems appropriate. Maybe something relative to Texas history? Or something you know the executive is interested in or collects. Maybe you can contact his/her assistant for some suggestions?

The gift should be attractivly wrapped (good box, nice wrapping paper, fabric ribbon, tissue paper, a nice bag), as presentation is very important to the Japanese people. Also, don%26#39;t expect the executive to open it in front of you. He or she will probably thank you and compliment the packaging, then take the gift with them to open later.

Gift for Senior Executive

It%26#39;s very difficult to buy something for a senior salaryman. These guys have very few interests outside of their work. If you can find out if he plays golf and you%26#39;re in the Dallas area, maybe something from the upcoming Byron Nelson golf tournament in May. You might also look for something like a photo book of where you are from (lots of photos). As stated already, be sure to pay attention to the gift wrapping and packaging.


I鈥檓 not sure whether it鈥檚 a good idea to give any gift to a Japanese senior executive. If you or your company is making something, you may give a gift made by you/your company. It sounds like you鈥檙e planning to meet with the only one businessman (or businesswoman), but other people may join the meeting without any advance notice. Just make sure you bring a lot of business cards. A few years ago, my boss and I were schedule to meet with a Japanese businessman, but other 7 men/women join the meeting, and then we were introduced to everyone in his group. So, I usually bring 30-50 business cards to visit a Japanese company for the first time.

If possible, make your business cards in both English and Japanese. It is very important to show you care about Japanese culture. See

In my opinion, it is more critical to have your business cards in English %26amp; Japanese rather than to give a gift to the executive.

Also, it is extremely important that you will show up before your meeting. I highly recommend that you arrive at their office at least 15 minutes before the time your meeting is scheduled. When I visit a Japanese company for the first time, I usually try to arrive at the office about 20-30 minutes before my meeting, use a bathroom (toilet), and then let a receptionist know that I鈥檓 there which is usually about 15 minutes before the meeting. If you are late for the meeting, Japanese people will never trust you.

Gift giving can be a complex subject in Japan - the perfect gift requires a delicate balance of usefulness, uselessness, feeling, and ';image';.

In Japan there is an industry dedicated to providing business gifts - thus, all company meeting rooms are filled with incredibly beautiful clocks and figurines, that are ultimately useless and only gather dust. Major train stations sell sets of perfectly packaged dried cakes, sweets, and candies, unique to the region, for the exclusive purpose of gift giving.

So, my advice would be to keep it small and simple - anything expensive would result in a gift war - your counter-party would feel obliged to present a counter gift to you in return.

Coming from Texas, I would suggest one of the following:

1. Golf balls - only the highest quality, one sleeve is good enough

2. Golf towel or other small golf item like that, same regarding quality, even better with the logo of a famous golf course.

3. Box of American chocolates - Hawaiian Host sells milllions a year to Japanese tourists in Hawaii - your target is more upscale, so something like Godiva or See%26#39;s is better. Warning: do not get any chocolates that stick to teeth. Frankly, chocolates would be my last choice.

4. Bottle of quality American wine. Opus One would be too good, perhaps something one rank down.

5. Nice set of cufflinks, no precious stones, not too flashy, but tasteful. Check Neiman Marcus for that - John Hardy makes some great ones. Japanese businessmen like to wear cufflinks, even though they don%26#39;t wear french cuffs.

6. Unique item or product of Texas that is not ridiculous. For example, I like to give 100% pure Kona Coffee to my colleagues after I visit Hawaii. You need to be careful with this one - No jackalope goods or cactus candy please.

If you buy the gift anywhere in the USA (except Hawaii), the packaging will not be comparable to what would be done in Japan. So just give up and have the merchant separately give you a nice, clean bag with the shop logo, then put the item in the bag before meeting, and out of sight, of your counter-party. Thats good enough.

I agree about the cards but I think 15 minutes may be too early. I try to arrive near the premise 15 minutes or so early but kill time at a convenience store nearby or something like that to ensure I cannot be late but I wait until about 5 minutes prior to the meeting time before I enter the lobby. Depending on the size of the office the lobby may or may not be staffed. You can check this before you go. If it%26#39;s not staffed they will probably be waiting for you.

If you are in Tokyo and arriving a few days early you can go to Kinkos and get cards made overnight. Be sure to take a mock-up of how you want the card to look. If you need them quickly then I recommend one of the small shops on the 2nd or 3rd floor of the New Shimbashi Building directly across the street from JR Shimbashi Station. You can usually get 1-2 hour service there. They have sample templates you can choose from, too.

Be careful about the business card thing - if you get cards made that have mistakes or, worst case, an inappropriate or wrong title, you will look ridiculous.

I recommend you just use your regular business cards until a knowledgeable local person is able to help get the Japanese version just right.

Some of the advice above seems to me too hard-line and specific. Don%26#39;t sweat about the meishi in Japanese, especially if you%26#39;d only be getting it printed up for this one occasion. You%26#39;re from the US and your Japanese counterparts will read English and expect your business card to be in English.

As for the golf paraphernalia, you need to be sure this is a golfer. Judging from gifts I%26#39;ve received in these situations, cufflinks, tie pins, boxed handkerchiefs, boxed neckties, paperweights, desk clocks, pen sets, and coffee mugs are the usual fare. Having the gift boxed and wrapped properly is crucial, as is the manner in which you present it.

Well, we don%26#39;t need a gift for a Senior Exec... but we do need a gift for our extended family member (Japanese woman) who is welcoming us into her apt in Tokyo for a few days next week!

I%26#39;m pretty sure she has... most everything she wants and needs (not in a bad way)... we%26#39;ve already gotten a cute gift for her little girl, but we don%26#39;t know what to get her! She travels frequently to the US, Greece and the Arab Emirates (where she will be moving to this summer)... so I don%26#39;t know. What do high class Japanese women want!?

My impression is that high-class Japanese women want designer bags, which are less expensive in the U.S. than in Japan. A small Coach accessory or a silk scarf would be nice. A brooch from someplace like particularly if there is some maker in your area. Something silver or pewter from a shop like the Williamsburg online shop or Smithsonian.

I like the State and U.S. dishtowels from this site:鈥?/a>

they are small, light, won%26#39;t break, and are actually useful.

For an executive in a personal setting (not a meeting), a bottle of single malt is always welcome.

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