Sunday, 14 June 2009


It's Ochugen time! Ochugen are midyear gifts which Japanese give to those with whom they wish to maintain a good relationship. Japan being a hierarchical society gifts are given upwards and they therefore constitute a benign form of bribery. Parents give ochugen to their children's teachers, for example. Despite being a university teacher (and previously a high school teacher) I have never received ochugen because I am a foreigner and consequently do not have any real influence over my students' futures. This is unlike certain professors at certain Japanese universities who have been making the news recently because of the millions of Yen they have been receiving as 'gifts' from their medical students. But if someone wishes to bribe me this year then they need look no further than the ochugen beer gift catalogue from Japan Post(the post office)or Seven Eleven's domestic produce brochure. The rice noodles in a bamboo tray with ice look delicious. Your medical licences are in the post.

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