(left) Items wrapped specially for JQR. Essence Plus, located on the first floor of the Matsuya Ginza Department Store, has a range of women’s accessories just right for early summer. (right) Wrapping examples: It could be for home use, a boxed present, or a present without a box… whatever kind of wrapping the customer wants, the store will oblige. Putting the wrapped item into a paper bag for ease in carrying it home is also part of the service.

Japanese people are used to the perfectionist wrapping service provided by Japanese department stores. Travelers to Japan, however, are amazed by its attractiveness. Wrapping that is so precise it could have been done by machine is a unique service of Japanese department stores. It’s fair to say that to see a shop attendant spread the paper out diagonally, place the item in the corner and then fold the paper along the lines of the box, is to watch a skilled craftsman at work. Her fingers are nimble, there is no wasted movement. The wrapping always finishes up on the reverse side, with no slackness in sight. If ten of the same article were to be wrapped, all ten will finish up looking almost exactly the same. It is probably only in Japan that such a miracle unfolds at department stores throughout the whole country.

Practice Wrapping Nimbly and Neatly

Many Ginza department stores are thronging with visitors from overseas. Matsuya Ginza is an old established store that opened there in 1925. In 2001 it switched to a white-toned wrapping paper and the look was unified with the LED embedded white exterior walls that were completed in 2006.
“When the customer pays for their purchase we ask if it is for home use or as a present, as we try to differentiate the wrapping. If it is a present then we ask if they would like it put in a box before beginning to wrap,” said Yuka Ogasawara of the Public Relations Department in Matsuya Ginza.
At Matsuya Ginza, staff must undergo wrapping training before they are assigned to a section, and practice daily even after that.
“A certain level of speed is necessary because we can’t keep customers waiting too long. We also always try to keep in mind which wrapping goes with which item, or which combinations require what wrapping, and the order of wrapping, so that we can deal with whatever comes up quickly and without hesitation. We have several kinds of stickers available to put on presents, which overseas guests particularly enjoy choosing,” said Ms. Torii in Customer Service.

Protecting the Purchase is Another Purpose of Wrapping

Ms. Torii promptly proceeded to wrap several items for us. That’s when I noticed that the wrapping wasn’t just beautiful. For example, when I told her that “the stole is a present but it needn’t be put in a box,” she first enveloped it in a double layer of thin paper before encasing it in wrapping paper. In answer to my question “Why the thin paper?” she replied, “because while you’re carrying it there might be some kind of impact that will tear the wrapping paper, so it’s to prevent the item fraying in case that happens.” I gained a new appreciation for the quality control and thoughtful consideration that lie behind this service.

“We have boxes and wrapping paper in the right sizes on hand, so we can wrap anything we sell. Essence Plus, a women’s accessory shop on the first floor, has wrapping paper and paper bags in five different sizes. There are more than 20 different types of boxes, for everything from handkerchiefs to hats (from 50 yen per box [without tax]). We also have long thin bags for umbrellas. Wrapping paper and box sizes are different on each floor as every floor sells different products.”
■Matsuya Ginza
3-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Telephone: 03-3567-1211 (main switchboard)

Photography / Satoru Naito Text / JQR Editorial Staff

Send us a comment about this article