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Dec. 14, Sun.*This program was first broadcast on Dec. 20, 2012


In summer and winter, seasonal gifts are sent to friends. At the New Year, young people receive envelopes with money inside. These are just some of the occasions throughout the year when the Japanese exchange gifts. Traditional gifts are wrapped in beautiful paper and decorated with elaborate ornaments. More modern gifts are wrapped in stylish, sophisticated ways. A strong tradition of returning favors exists in Japan, and Valentine's Day is no exception. On February 14, women give men chocolate. Then, on White Day, March 14, men give gifts to the women from whom they received chocolate on Valentine's. A popular present in recent years is the "catalog gift". Recipients select whichever item they like from a catalog. It's all paid.

On this edition of BEGIN Japanology, our theme is gift-giving, which oils the wheels of social interaction in Japan. From traditional customs to the latest trends, we'll look at Japan's unique and diverse gift-giving culture.