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Gift-Giving and Exchange as an Important Element in Japanese Society - Essay Example

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This essay explores how the study of gifts and exchange may reveal information about the ritual ways in which people in Japanese society express relationships. The research illustrates that the elaborate exchange etiquette in Japan is defined by rules of obligation, indebtedness, and duty.    …
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Gift-Giving and Exchange as an Important Element in Japanese Society
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Download file to see previous pages It is evidently clear from the research that along with the Confucian values, wrote Ilchman, Katz, and Queens, in particular, the value of humaneness, such obligation extend outwards to teachers, relatives, close neighbors and business associates. Japanese companies, for instance, allocate funds for equitable compensation to employees for ceremonial events or kankonsosai. Such importance given to the exchange of gifts allows the act to pervade in Japanese ceremonies and customs that is why it reveals a wealth of information in regard to Japanese rituals. There are four classifications of occasions or instances when gift-giving is required among the Japanese: life-cycle ceremonies, gift-giving occasions regulated by the calendar, emergencies that cause sudden deprivations and special events that call for prompt gift-giving. These occasions are diverse and are consistently well defined, and most importantly for this study, associated with particular rituals. They also entail Japanese principles that are the basis of rituals and ceremonies. These include the concepts of obligation, duty, reciprocity, among others. Gift-giving is a prominent element in life-cycle ceremonies or “rite of passage” events and therefore provide a wealth of insights on the rituals that define these stages and the growth phases between them. As it is, people are preoccupied with gift-giving in birth, marriage, and death of people as well as in education, wedding anniversary, etc. In so many instances, gift-giving becomes a means of exchange –a kind of exchange that articulates obligation. For instance, during a wedding, there is normally a table outside of the hall where the wedding takes place. Young people sat behind this table and they are tasked to collect the money contained in envelopes given by arriving guests. What is interesting, perhaps for most foreigners, is that the amount contained in the envelope is strictly recorded along with the name of its giver. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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