I have a related question for our native Japanese posters.
Based on my idea of Japanese ultra-politeness in formal settings, I would have expected Japanese people, when receiving a gift, to be extravagantly thankful, to talk about how wonderful and special the gift is, how unworthy the recipient is of such generosity and so on. Effectively, I am extrapolating from what would be considered polite in western cultures.
However, what I've experienced in reality is that the Japanese person receiving the gift puts it aside almost immediately after the most cursory of acknowledgement. This is in the context for example of a work meeting where the visitor brings a memento from his/her home country as a gift for the host. I've noticed overseas visitors being taken aback by this seeming abruptness.
The best explanation I can think of is that the giving/receiving transaction is potentially "awkward" and the receiver is aiming to minimise any awkwardness by getting it out of the way with as little fuss as possible.
So, two questions really:
1) Is my observation correct? Is this how Japanese people generally behave when receiving a gift, or only in certain contexts?