When we just moved into our new place in mid July, I asked Sushi-san if we needed to buy any “hello, I am your new neighbor” gift to say hi to our new neighbors who lives next to us, above us and below us as I have read from the internet that we have to do it if we move to a new place. Sushi-san who isn’t someone who follow all the Japanese rules. He only follows some on his own whims or only if it is work related otherwise and so he said “No need lah, now modern times already”. Alright, that I would just leave it at that.
Fast forward a month later, our new neighbor living 1 floor below us, came to visit us with a “hello” gift and to introduce his family to us. Still, Sushi-san thinks there isn’t a need to buy a gift back in return as he said we had already moved in for a month. A week later, our next door neighbor knocked on our door and presented us with a “hello” gift as well. Finally, no more excuses of not buying the “hello” gift finally.
I suggested that we can get the gifts when we return from Singapore with some Singapore pineapple cookies and it was rejected on 2 reasons – would be too late when we return so it would be deemed rude and there is no nice packaging in Singapore! (Japanese and their beautifully wrapped gifts) Thus so, we had to make a run to TWG Tokyo as we decided we wanted to give a gift that kind of represented “his foreign wife” and just in case the neighbors find it rude that I wasn’t responding to them in Japanese if they meet me in the elevators.
Therefore, we finally did the “hello, I am your new neighbor greeting” after a month of moving in. Better late than never, the irony is that it was the foreign wife who reminded the Japanese husband of this 😛
PS: The family who lives above us, apologise to us once we are done with our introductions in case their little boy had made too much noise especially running on the wooden floors. Apparently, if you have a new baby in the family you have to do this gift giving thing all over again so as to inform your neighbors “sorry, baby in the house, please excuse us for any screaming and noise coming from our apartment”
Here’s a blog entry in English on how this gift giving culture is executed in Japan
According to this site (in Japanese), the top 5 gifts for your neighbors are as follow:
2) Pastries/Japanese snacks
4) Japanese tea/Tea
5) Noodles (soba etc)
So do you learn something today?