Japan and America are rather different when it comes to gift-giving. On one hand, gift-giving seems to be a year-round thing in Japan: My husband and I have a box full of pre-wrapped American goodies in the closet in the tatami room so we never show up to a coworker’s house empty-handed. On the other hand, I still have the urge to toss presents at all my friends and family around Christmas time.

It just doesn’t seem like “Christmas” if shops aren’t trying to make me buy stuff I don’t need for people I like. Japanese gift-giving culture definitely costs more—but I do like not having to scramble two days before Christmas trying to gather X number of presents for my close friends.