Flower-Gifting: Which Flower Is Appropriate for Your Occasion? | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
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Flower-Gifting: Which Flower Is Appropriate for Your Occasion?

By Guidable Writers May 14, 2024

Do you know your country’s national flower? Did you know that Japan technically has two!? The Cherry blossom and Chrysanthemum are both seen as the national flowers of Japan. Both beautiful flowers to admire, but when it comes to gifting them, we should be aware of Japan’s flower-gifting culture.

Although the cherry blossom is an unofficial national flower, it has played an important role in Japanese culture. With the Chrysanthemum being the official national flower, it was said to have been adopted by Emperor Go-Toba which was passed down to the following emperors and soon became the official imperial family crest.

The Chrysanthemum can be found in many places such as temples, and shrines, and is often offered at funerals and cemeteries. Not only is it associated with religion and the imperial family but it is also seen as an art, with competitions held each year. The Chrysanthemum is seen as a symbol of royalty and nobility. As many countries have their own interpretations on the meaning of flowers, any person living overseas can easily be sent into a frenzy when figuring out what to give at certain occasions, be it a graduation, wedding, or coming of age. But don’t worry! We’ve compiled a short list of Do’s and Dont’s on flower-gifting!

Flower-Gifting? What’s The Occasion?

There are many occasions where you’d give someone flowers like celebrations, when someone falls ill, and funerals. Depending on the circumstance, it’s important to give the appropriate flower for the occasion. 

お祝い (O-Iwai) Celebrations

cupcake with sparkler on top, flower-gifting for celebrationsImage Credit: Canva

Depending on your relationship with the person receiving the flowers, it’s important to convey the appropriate feelings. Roses, lilies, irises, and orchids are some options. We should consider that each color represents a different meaning. Like many country’s interpretation, the red rose means romantic love, while the white rose represents innocence and purity. 

As with orchids, you can often see arrangements and bouquets outside of newly opened shops. These are often gifted by neighbor shops and are meant to symbolize fortune and continued success. 

Lilies are great alternative options if you’d like something different. But be sure to steer away from red and orange lilies as they have opposite meanings. If the person or persons are people you respect, daffodils are a great way to convey the feeling. 

お見舞い (O-Mimai) Get Well Soon

Sunflower with "get well soon" written on paperImage Credit: Canva

When someone falls ill and you’d like to send them flowers, opt for flowers that are not potted, red flowers and white chrysanthemums. The reason behind this is that potted plants are interpreted that you wish the person to stay ill or in the same situation. Red flowers remind us of blood and, therefore, should be avoided, and red lilies and white chrysanthemums are often found at grave sites as offerings to past loved ones. Some great alternatives include sunflowers, lilies (not red), daisies, and carnations. These flowers all have a similar meaning of healing and hope. But be wary as some hospitals won’t accept any flowers as they may harm some patients. 

御供え(O-Sonae) Offerings

White ChrysanthemumsImage Credit: Canva

When visiting grave sites, it is common practice to bring flowers or our loved ones’ favorite drink/food. When deciding to bring flowers, white chrysanthemums and red spider lilies are most commonly gifted. While you are free to choose where you would like to purchase the flowers when visiting the grave site, it is slightly different when attending a wake or funeral. Depending on the funeral service, if you would like to gift flowers, you may need to purchase them directly from the funeral service itself. They will have different prices depending on the style of the bouquet. Typically, the funeral service will arrange everything, so it’s not necessary to buy flowers. If you would like to visit the home after your loved one’s funeral, you may bring flowers; they will need to be white, called Makura-Bana (枕花), meaning “flowers for a pillow”. 

Cheat Sheet:

Flower/ Occasion Celebratory Get Well Soon Offerings*

*These are flowers that can be brought to the home of the deceased, the funeral/wake service may have set arrangements.

◎- Appropriate ○- Depending on color ╳- Not Appropriate

Flower-Gifting Can Be Hard 

In case you forget to save our cheat sheet, no worries! If you would like to ask the florist what would be appropriate for your event, they will be more than happy to help. Be sure to let the florist know your budget, occasion, and length/height of your preferred flower. The process of choosing the appropriate flowers to convey your feelings is important, especially when it involves other parties. As a rule, avoid white chrysanthemums and red spider lilies when the events are celebratory or as a “get well soon”. Hopefully, this guide will help you with your next flower purchase!

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Featured Image Credit: Canva