‘Tis the season to be broke

The o-seibo winter gift giving season is upon us and that means that we need to get our thinking caps on to decide who is (and isn’t!) on our list this year and also to figure out just what to buy each person.

Now of course because konbini [コンビニ] is wonderful, each chain had prepared a beautiful catalogue just for our konbinience (okay, I promise that was the last time this year I’m going to use that joke). Like the konbini junkie I am, I went around to the Top Three: 7-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson’s to collect a copy of each catalogue.

Winter gifts, however, aren’t quite the same as Christmas presents are for foreigners and modern Japanese people. Just like the summer gifts I wrote about back in July, winter gifts or o-seibo [お歳暮] are more of a social obligation, and are given to people who need to be thanked for their help and support throughout the year. According to my coworkers, this is a custom many younger people no longer bother with at all and it seems to them to be more of an custom among the older generations.

Unfortunately, winter gifts are more expensive than summer gifts which sucks because by this time of year supplies are dwindling in the money department. That means that the people I do have on my list aren’t going to be getting anything fantastically amazing. Sorry guys, but truly I do love you. Maybe next year you’ll get lucky. Or luckier.

konbini winter gift

Most of the gifts people buy tend to be things like food or alcohol which is totally okay with me, but there are a few things I wouldn’t be so happy to receive.

I’m talking about cleaning products or washing liquid for laundry. That to me would indicate that I was smelly or that they thought my apartment is messy. Which sometimes it is. Messy, I mean, not that I’m smelly.

konbini winter gift cleaning products

I would prefer either beer or perhaps this delicious concoction from Family Mart which can also be described as ‘heaven on earth.’ Yes,’ my friends, a matcha [抹茶] or green tea cheese cake with anko [餡こ] or sweet red bean paste. These of course are just suggestions for what you can buy me… No pressure. 🙂

konbini winter gift green tea cheese cake

Anyway, I’m off to pretend to be Santa and check on who has been naughty or nice this year. Then I will whittle down my list and hope that I haven’t missed anyone significant…

Happy (gift) hunting!


Jade Brischke

Jade first visited Hiroshima with a group of her students from Australia and after falling in love with the city, vowed that one day she would return to live and work. It seems dreams really do come true! When she's not writing she's out and about with her camera, walking and exploring the streets or some may say, wandering aimlessly. She, however, doesn't believe any wandering is aimless. Jade blogs regularly at jackcrispy.com.