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You know it’s December in Japan when the department stores are packed with お歳暮 (o-seibo, year-end gift) shoppers, most of whom are businesspeople who’ll have to make their end-of-year 挨拶回り (aisatsu mawari, greeting rounds) for their clients, gift in hand.

In Japan, お歳暮 and 挨拶 (aisatsu, greetings) are among the oldest traditions in the book. Typical お歳暮 are seasonal foods and/or alcohol, like a box of beer cans or a big bottle of sake. In the summer, the same gifts are called お中元 (o-chūgen, mid-year gifts).

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