What is Ochugen? Facts you need to know about Ochugen!

Jun 24, 2017



During the hot season in summer, you are expected to give present to people who you are close to. Gift giving is a symbol of closeness and serves the function of maintaining good and healthy relationship between one another. In Japan, giving a gift is not only a habit but also a custom that have been past down from generation to generation. In Japan, there is a custom called Ochugen, which you need to give present to who you really like. In this article, I am going to talk about the basic knowledge of Ochugen.


What is Ochugen?


In Japan, Ochugen is a custom for Japanese people to give a gift to people who are close to them. In Japan, the act of giving a present is even more important than what you give for the present. In this article, I will explain what a Ochugen is, and in what situation do we give Ochugen to others.


In Japan, Chugen is midyear present. In Japan, there is a custom of presenting the gift to the indebted person in July and December. The one of July is called Ochugen, and the other one of December is called Oseibo. When we want to make the word polite, we add ‘O’ in front of the word, so in this context, ‘O’ is a prefix applied to Chugen, and it becomes Ochugen. So to begin with, I am going to explain who exactly should we give Ochugen to.


To whom do we give Ochugen?


Normally, we send Ochugen to people who are our relative or matchmaker. We may also give ochugen to people such as the physicians or doctor in charge. We may also give our teacher and the superior and the customer in the company. Basically they will not ask you for giving them Ochugen, but they will be very pleased if you give them gift. So you just need to remember that you do not need to give Ochugen to every person you know; you just need to give present to those who you are really close to, and when you want to show them your respect.


When should we give Ochugen?


Usually most people do not present Ochugen on 15th July of the old calendar. The greater part of people will present Ochugen by July1st to July 15th on the solar calendar.


In summer season, the name of Ochugen will become Shochumimai or Shochuoukagai between july16 and about August 8. This name means that we pray for other party’s health in the hot season. It is really hard to endure the hot summer season in Japan. Therefore, it has become a tradition to show respect to people who are living hard in this hot season by giving present to each other. This is the major purpose of giving Ochugen to the people. Knowing the purpose of Ochugen, what kind of gift should you give?


What gifts are presented to the Ochugen?


In today’s Japanese society, it is popular to present the Sanchoukuhin. The ‘Sanchokuhin’ is the word meaning ‘Commodity or goods that will be sent directly from the producer or production’s shop or production’s factory.’ Normally you give the present that was made in your hometown, because in Japan people tend to care a lot about their hometown, and their hometown is becoming part of their identity. So it might be a good idea if you can give the best gift you can give from your mother town, so they will appreciate your present. Also, you might be curious about how much you should spend on Ochugen.


How much should we spend on Ochugen?


The budget of Ochugen is decided depending on the level of association with the people who receives it. The budget may be ranged from 2000yen to 30000yen depending on how close you are with the people receives your gift. As mentioned before, what you buy does not really matter. The most important thing is the action of buying something! So you do not need to worry too much about if the person receives your present will like it or not.


What is the History of Ochugen?


The culture of Ochugen is originated from China. This Chinese culture was then combined with the Obon (lantern festival) in Japan, and it gradually changed to today’s Ochugen culture. It is said that this culture transformed into today’s culture in Edo Period. Therefore, Japan is good at integrating other countries culture and rearranges it into their own culture.


After reading this article, you should get the basic idea about what is a Ochugen, and what and to whom should you give them gift. After reading the passage, I hope you can get a general idea of what to do when you face a situation where you need to give Ochugen to people.




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