If you hand over a present such as a china mug you bought from a high street card shop then it's very hard to follow it up with a comment along the lines of, 'now there's a story to that...'. Unless of course you were exploring a volcano when it suddenly erupted, hurling you 10,000 feet in the air, your subsequent fall being broken by a passing school of pterodactyls recently escaped from a nearby paleogenetics laboratory.
As you wrestled from their grip you managed to remove your shirt, and putting your needlework class experience into good use remodelled it into a pretty effective parachute, falling gently through the roof of the aforementioned card shop, landing neatly in front of the display of china mugs.
Unlikely as this might seem, it would certainly make a good story. But with most ordinary high street gifts there really is nothing to say about them. They are what they are, with no background, no history and very little in the way of interest. The best that can be said for them is that they are novelties, but anything novel can only remain novel for as long as it is new. The novelty wears off very soon, after which you are left with very little.
Oriental gifts on the other hand make very unusual presents because they provide the recipient with far more than the physical gift. They come with history, with tradition, and with cultural stories which can be retold and enjoyed.
For example, Japanese lucky cats are growing in popularity as unusual gifts for people to give and to receive, and in fact it's not just cats, but lucky owls and other animals too. These quirky looking, highly decorated creatures make striking ornaments, and many people are drawn to them for this reason alone. But the truth is that Japanese lucky cats have a great deal of history to them, and tell an interesting story which is perhaps of particular relevance today.
Japanese lucky cats were designed and developed during what is known as the Edo period of Japan's history. This is a span of 264 years, from 1603 to 1867. During this period Japan cut itself off from the entire world, with political authority returning to the emperor. Throughout the Edo period there were no invasions from outside, and no outside trade. Japan became wholly self sufficient, which involved both much ingenuity as well as careful use of resources, including recycling.
The population remained constant, and life was very stable. During this time Japan's culture saw many exciting and fascinating developments and changes, untouched by outside influences. The Japanese lucky cat makes a wonderful gift as it's a direct connection to this fascinating period in Japan's history, full of extraordinary tales and achievements, and linking directly to many other Japanese gifts currently seeing a resurgence of interest.
These Japanese lucky cats are said to bring good fortune, and so make ideal gifts for people celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, engagements or even those who need a little extra good luck, if perhaps they have had an accident or are unwell. With their strong links to one of the most fascinating periods in Japanese cultural history they make great talking points, and you never know, perhaps they really will bring you good luck!