What gifts are inappropriate in each country

Giving international gifts

Gift etiquette: be careful!

In most Asian countries, special care is required when giving gifts. Gifts are a very important part of business in Japanand guest favors are simply part of good form here. If you are visiting Japan, you should have a small present ready for everyone present. However, there are also some taboo gifts that you should not give away under any circumstances: scissors and knives (these represent a separation of the covenant), images with foxes (deviousness) and yellow handkerchiefs (betrayal). Giving away four items is also a bad omen, because the number four "shi" is the same as the word death - understandable that this is not so popular with the Japanese. In Japan, great importance is attached to the way in which the gift is given: the right thing to do is to give the gift with both hands to show that it comes from the heart. Each gift in turn requires a return gift of lesser value. However, if you give a gift that is too expensive, it is impolite and puts the recipient under pressure.

Tip: Don't be surprised if your gift isn't accepted or unwrapped straight away. Usually the recipient rejects the gift several times before accepting it. The gift is never unwrapped in the presence of the giver in order to save both parties the so-called "loss of face" - the decline in their own reputation in the event of disappointment or surprise.


In Chinayou are always right with invitations home with flowers, fruit and alcohol. Gifts related to Germany are also always very popular, as many Chinese are fans of Germany and appreciate German workmanship. But you should never give away unsuccessful knives, umbrellas or watches: knives "cut up", as in Japan, relationships or symbolize the failure of negotiations. Umbrellas signal that you will never see each other again and clocks that the life time is coming to an end. You can't go wrong with kitschy, “typically German” guest gifts, European pralines and chocolate, which are usually very popular with the Chinese.