Ochugen Holiday: A Japanese Tradition of Gift Giving

If you are looking for a suitable occasion to give gifts to Japanese partners or people who have helped you, you can wait until the Ochugen Holiday. Many people know that this is a gift-giving holiday in the summer, but the choice of time and gifts is picky!

  1. What is Ochugen Holiday?
  2. How to choose gifts during the Ochugen Holiday

What is Ochugen Holiday?

It is one of the traditional holidays of Japan. However, due to the influence of socio-economic development, not many people know about it today.

Initially, the Ochugen Holiday was a custom imported from China. According to Chinese Taoism, Ochugen Holiday is one of the three days of offering sacrifices to Gods to purify oneself:

 • (上元):January 15th

 • Ochugen (中元): July 15th

 • (下元): December 15th

Ochugen Holiday is July 15th, coinciding with Naka moto Setsu - the festival of releasing lanterns to pray for peace for ancestors and the deceased. 

However, in Japan, instead of praying for peace, showing filial piety to ancestors, on the Ochugen Holiday, the Japanese also express gratitude and respect to those who are close or have helped you. It could be friends, colleagues, teachers, parents, relatives, business partners who are permanently close by and ready to lend a helping hand when needed.

Depending on the region, the Mid-Autumn Festival will also be different: 

  • In Tohoku, Kanto, Hokuriku, Okinawa areas, the Mid-Autumn Festival takes place only on July 15th.
  • In Hokkaido, Kansai, Chubu, Kyushu, Shikoku areas, it lasts until August 15th.

Ochugen Holiday also has another interpretation as "Hello Summer," because on this occasion, people will often go to the homes of those who have always helped them to visit and give thank you gifts. There is no rule that a present is required to show sincerity, but gift-giving gradually becomes a custom during this holiday.

How to choose gifts during the Ochugen Holiday

Due to busy work or remote geographical distance, many people choose to buy gifts and send them with thank you cards. Sending a card with the word "Thank you" is considered essential for sending a gift.

On Ochugen Holiday, the recipient will not need to give the gift in return. You only send a thank-you card or give a call. Therefore, when choosing to buy a gift, paying attention not to buy too expensive gifts is essential to avoid making the other person feel uncomfortable. The present's value is usually 3,000 - 5,000 yen (27,24$ - 45,40$). Also, in the case of special help, you can choose a gift worth about 10,000 yen (90,80$).

We all want to give a gift that makes the other person feel satisfied. Therefore, when buying a gift, it is essential to consider the age and family composition of the other person to choose the right one.

The gifts that the Japanese often give are salted fish, drinks, candies, food, etc. Besides, many people also choose seasonal gifts such as beer because the Ochugen Holiday is in the summer. At this time, beer will be more suitable than wine or fruits. When giving food, especially fruit, it is also necessary to pay attention to the expiry date so that the other party can use it gradually within a specific time.

If you can stay in Japan for a long time, you will experience this holiday as well. Although today, the custom of the Ochugen Holiday is no longer popular, there are still many people who still keep this beautiful tradition.

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