It is a common practice to return someone’s favor or thoughts by sending gifts after a certain occasion. This gift is called hikidemono.
Hikidemono is written 引出物 and supposedly derived from “pulling out horse” (引＋出＝ “to pull out”, 物=object) when it was customary to present horses in gardens. Although the most common type of hikidemono are for weddings, most Japanese people do not know that the term hikidemono also applies to gifts sent for condolences. This article will be about wedding hikidemono.
If you are invited to a wedding in Japan, you can expect coming home with a large paper bag with two or three presents. This will already be placed by your seat at the wedding reception.
Despite many attendees, the gift is selected especially for you and your group of friends by the bride and groom. It is common to find cake, pastry, tea, and other edible items as a gift.
The other is something useful, like a plate, glass cup, wine glass, etc. As some bride and groom may wish for the attendees to receive something of their liking, catalogue with items from all different genre may also be included.
The receiver can select, for example, hand cream, designer’s keychain, wine, Japanese sake, frying pan and whatever included in the catalogue. Depending on the region the bride and groom are from, they may have a local customary item like osekihan (red bean rice), kouhaku-manjyu (red and white steamed bean-jam bun), kamaboko (minced-and-steamed fish cake).
There are taboos to the hikidemono. Items which one can associate with negative connotation is prohibitive. For example, knife and scissors can “cut” a good relationship. Layered items can remind one of divorce and remarrying.
Presenting guests with luxurious gift only became customary during the economic bubble when weddings became a spectacular celebration.
The sense of surprise of opening the gift adds theatrics to the wedding. In addition to beautiful wedding wear of the bride and gallant speech of the groom, hikidemono is something everyone looks forward to.