The spirit of Japanese hospitality is ever-present in gift-wrapping. This tradition combines consideration for gift recipients with craftsmanship and technical dexterity, creating diverse wrapping styles and methods.
Wrapping stylists — full-time professional staff — are always on duty at Isetan Shinjuku (main store). They offer optimal wrapping ideas to customers who order special wrapping treatments. These stylists first interview the customer regarding the type of gift, the age and gender of the recipient, the relationship of the customer and the gift recipient, and the preferences of the recipient (favorite color, taste, etc.). After considering all these conditions, they suggest the ideal wrapping “image” to match the gift content. If the gift-giver likes the idea, a stylist starts the wrapping process.
As many as 70 basic kinds of wrapping papers and 100 types of ribbons are available. A stylist selects the right type of paper and ribbon, combines them to suit the planned wrapping image of the gift, and then swiftly wraps the package. By the way, there are traditional wrapping styles and decorative ties such as shime-nawa, mizubiki, washi, and kumihimo. Each decoration has a special meaning. If you want to know what a certain decorative style means, simply ask any of the wrapping stylists, who are always pleased to answer your questions.
Japan’s traditional furoshiki is also a convenient type of gift-wrapping. A furoshiki is a multi-purpose cloth that can wrap, stow, or carry many kinds of items, but is sometimes used as a wrapping cloth for gifts. For instance, if you take a bottle of Japanese sake as a gift, you can wrap it up in an attractive furoshiki that serves for various wrapping occasions. After use in gift-wrapping, a furoshiki can later be utilized for different purposes, adding to the pleasure of the gift recipient.
Both the gift content and the gift appearance require meticulous consideration. And that’s how Japanese think gifts and hospitality should be treated.