When I was staying in Japan, I went to buy a gift for one of my friends. I went to one of the most famous department stores where I found a beautiful wallet. I picked it up, went to the counter to pay.
The lady behind the counter asked me, “Is this a gift for somebody or for yourself?”
“It is a gift to my friend,” I said.
She continued, “Do you want me to do gift-packaging?”
Then I said, “Yes, please. It will be nice.”
She brought a soft delicate small bag specifically designed for that wallet form the drawers, put the wallet in the bag very carefully, and then folded it. After that, she took a beautiful box and put the wallet located in the bag into the box, closed the lid of it.
And then, she found a plastic package, put the box including the wallet in it and professionally sealed it, put a golden gift sticker written “for you” on it.
My gift has already looked lovely. I thought she had finished at that point, but it was not the end.
She picked up a shop-logoed thin paper and started wrapping it up, folding carefully and neatly. …. Has she finally finished her work? No, not yet.
After she taped the edge of the wrapping paper, took a paper bag and located the paper-wrapped box in the bag, and then closed the bag with a shop sticker. Finally, she gave me it, saying, “Thank you for waiting”.
While I was waiting, I wanted to ask her, ‘how many more minutes do you need?’ or ‘how many more layers are you going to do?’ I felt like she was going to do it forever.
In lots of big shops in Japan, it is common to provide special packaging when you buy a gift, and they don’t charge any extra fee, normally. However, I sometimes feel it is too much, even embarrassing. Japanese people suppose it is nice to decorate your gifts beautifully, to make you and your gift-receivers happy.
I like the way of Japanese thinking, but now it may be the time to start considering a little more about the environment, recycling and garbage problem.
I hope that my gift-receiver, my friend, had some idea to reuse those papers and plastics. Next time I go shopping in Japan, I definitely will say “Yes, that will be nice, but could you do just a simple packaging, please?”