3 Interesting Japanese Customs and Traditions Concerning Money

3 Interesting Japanese Customs and Traditions Concerning Money

  • Japan is a country where tipping is not mandatory.
    However, there are certain occasions wherein you are asked to hand in money as a way of expressing your wishes.
    Here are three examples of some money-related Japanese customs and traditions that are handy to know.

  • 1. At weddings and funerals

    When invited to weddings and funerals in Japan, it is customary to give a gift of money – Japanese bills enclosed in a special envelope to be handed over when you arrive.
    These special money envelopes can be found in specialty stores, ranging from a few hundred yen to thousands of yen depending on the design.
    But no worries as they are also easily available in convenience stores all over Japan for a much cheaper price.

    For weddings, the gift of money is called “goshugi” and is given to congratulate the bride and the groom.
    The money should be put inside an envelope with a red-and-white (or colorful) ribbon.
    The bills should lie face up and should be unfolded when given to show how much you are preparing and looking forward to the ceremony.

    On the other hand, the gift of money for funerals is called “gokohden.”
    This a condolence money to show your deepest sympathy to the family of the deceased.
    The bills should be lying face down and folded, inside an envelope with a black-and-white ribbon when given.

    The amount of money to be given completely depends on your relationship with the person/s involved.
    If you are friends or colleagues, it costs 30,000 yen for goshugi and 5,000 yen for gokohden on average.
    When you are not sure of the amount of the gift money, there's no harm in asking other attendees before the date of the event.

  • 2. Donations when you pray

    Another common way of presenting money in Japan is through “osaisen” which is a donation made when praying at a shrine or temple.
    The amount of money you donate is totally up to you and it goes directly into the osaisen-box where you throw it in with your hands.
    This practice actually started from the ancient Japanese people when they offered farm products to the gods they prayed to.
    It is said that offering a 5-yen coin (“go-yen” in Japanese) brings a good opportunity to the offerer since “go-yen” sounds similar to “good relationship” in Japanese.
    Neverthless, your attitude is much more important than the amount of money you throw in the donation box.

  • 3. At a drinking party

    The Japanese also have a custom in regards to paying the bill when going out for drinks, locally known as “nomikai,” with some of your colleagues.
    Generally, there are 3 common ways to do this.
    First, there is the “ogori” method wherein the boss or the person with the highest status in the group treats everyone and pays for the entire bill.
    The second way is a voluntary method wherein someone would volunteer to pay for the bill.
    The last and probably the most popular method out of the three is simply splitting the bill among the group.
    It's less time-consuming and is more practical as you all have to pay equal amounts regardless of what you ordered.

  • Now that you have an idea of some of the most common money-related Japanese customs, you won't feel completely baffled the next time you're in Japan.