It is a custom here in Japan, twice a year, for many people to give 'thank you' gifts to co-workers, bosses, teachers, friends and relatives. In the summer, ochugen, is given sometime in July and in winter, oseibo, is usually delivered from the beginning to about the third week of December.
Departments stores and convenience stores offer a wide variety of things to be delivered....or you can order from special catalogues. One will spend anywhere from 3,000 yen (about $30) to 20,000 yen ($200) for these gifts. A boss will get the high-end one where a teacher may receive a 3,000 or 5,000 yen box. It's all about gratitude....the more it costs, the more gracious you seem. (Personally, I sometimes view this as very expensive goma suri....sesame grinding, or...
ass kissing apple polishing to you and me! But...as I tell my students, goma suri is never refused!! :-D)
What comes in one of these boxes? (you may be asking?) Well....pretty much anything is the answer to that question. Different kinds of soy sauce, pasta and sauces, fruit juices, dish washing soaps, boxes of laundry soap, cooking oil...are some to name a few.
One of the boxes was just beer, 2 different sizes of cans while the other box was not only beer, but also fruit juice for the boys....the "family set" like the picture on the bottom right. Sorry...no pictures of ours, as the box was soon emptied, didn't think about taking a picture until it was too late!!A few years ago, I was teaching a group of girls that were in Junior High. Every year, they would give me the 'thank you' gifts to show their gratitude. I appreciate the thought that goes behind this idea, but...this with this particular group of students...I had to laugh. For three years running, they gave me the same gift for the summer gift.....soap. Not just any kind of soap, but....decorative soaps...a whole bunch of them in a BIG box....more soaps than one person could use in a year's time...and I got three of them, ya'll!! I ended up dividing them up and giving them to some older students of mine...they loved them. Of course, when I told them that the class of Junior High girls I taught was stopping, one of the ladies said, "Oh....no more soap!!". We all laughed about that!!!
For the past 6 years, one of my favorite classes has given me oseibo that all of us look forward to...nay.....wait for, patiently. While many classes will give me a little something extra in the month of December, this class gives us something that is "really juicy and delicious", as Issei says.
We cook them on the grill in the middle of our table....
....and it's a great evening for all of us!!!
It's a meal that we all enjoy....really enjoy!!!