Delving into the Intangibles

   A present  

As a child, my mother used to send me on errands to our neighbors, taking them a share of some food treat we had just received from our relatives. I would return home happily holding a basket made of folded chiyogami (colorfully patterned paper) filled with arare (small rice biscuits ) or drop candy or biscuits given to us as a reward.

It is my unforgettable memory as a child, the feelings of satisfaction at having achieved a mission, and the joy of reward.

In those days people used to deliver by hand gifts wrapped in a cloth called a furoshiki.

Today is an age of convenience: takuhaibin have replaced the good old Japanese custom with a rapid delivery system bringing almost any kind of goods to our doorstep.

But we should remember we still have a very beautiful cultural tradition of expressing gratitude or sending greetings, in tune with the four seasons and taking account of the most suitable timing.

Gifts should not be obligatory; but, alas, probably half would fit this category.
When I receive handpicked herbs or a handmade gift, I feel touched by something. It could be warmth or tenderness, the interaction of invisible hearts. In Japan, when you send a gift to somebody, you are sending your heart as well.

How about people abroad? If invited to someone’s home, they usually bring chocolates or flowers. “Just to be polite” would be sufficient reason for such conduct––somewhat different from ours.

But some Westerners will choose a book as a gift for a friend. It is a beautiful book, carefully selected to suit the taste or intellectual level of the person receiving it. I like that way, too.

Yes, it is an expression of the highly intangible.