You don’t “just” buy flowers in Japan.
Last week Aven and I went to a flower shop to buy some flowers for a Japanese friend who had a birthday. It was our first time in a Japanese flower shop and after looking around for 5 minutes or so, we picked a bunch of flowers we thought looked pretty and went to the counter to pay. I picked out a happy birthday sign and asked about wrapping the flowers in nice paper. Thankfully the lady at the counter did not leave us in our ignorance but informed us that the flowers we chose are actually flowers that people use to place on grave sites. We then received a short but helpful education on Japanese flower culture. The florist who made a special bouquet for us asked about our friend’s age and what kind of relationship we have with her. Apparently this changes the kind of flowers that are appropriate to give. We were very thankful to be spared the embarrassment of giving funeral flowers to our birthday celebrating friend! If you ever have the need to give flowers to a Japanese person, make sure you double check which flowers are culturally correct!