An English conversation student I often have the chance to chat with in English at Smith’s Fukushima School, works full time as a present wrapper. A present-wrapper? I hear you ask. Yes it is a profession here in Japan. Her dedication to this task is fascinating and quite frankly the pride with which she explains her art is inspiring.
I guess I should not be so surprised at the lengths these wrappers go to in order to be qualified for front counter work. Most of the larger department stores in Japan offer a wrapping service and most have very serious training that staff must undergo in order to be accepted as a wrapper. These days training may also include an English test as Japan sees more and more foreign visitors arriving to shop in Japan.
Coming from Spain I always remember that Rolls Royce was considered the ultimate production car. Well after these years in Japan I feel it is fair to say that Japan has the Rolls Royce of gift-wrapping.
I am told that in the past gift-wrapping involved more layers of wrapping however as Japan becomes more concerned about sustainability issues the number of layers has been considerably reduced. Sad in one way in that the fun of the hunt is reduced and yet the fight for ecological sustainability is a real one.
If I may offer a suggestion, upon any visit to Japan be sure to buy something at a department store and ask to have it gift wrapped. Then stand in awe as the assistant’s hands deftly wrap with a speed, precision and a beauty that must stem from the art of Origami.