Living in Japan, you’ll quickly learn that Japan’s gift giving culture can be quite complex and confusing. You’ll often hear stories from your Japanese girlfriend or friends that when on trips, they are obligated to buy souvenirs for their co-workers and for weddings and funerals you are expected to give a monetary donation. Here are other monetary gift giving occasions throughout the year that you can use a guide.
Gratitude/Key Money Reikin (礼金) – This is the most famous of Japan’s courtesy payments and not liked by gaijin who find this custom confusing – it is paid to landlords (non refundable) for the privilege of moving into their buildings. The average payment: 1-3 months’ rent.
Congratulatory money Goshuugi ご祝儀– For students who have passed an important exam or been accepted into or just graduated from school, you might get some congratulatory money from friends and relatives of between ¥10,000-30,000.
New Year’s gift money for kids Otoshidama お年玉 – Older relatives give elementary age kids about ¥1000-5000, junior high kids about ¥3000-10,000 while high school kids get ¥3000-20,000.
Consolation money Isharyou (慰謝料) – If you’re ever involved in an accident or get hit by a car, bicycle or any vehicle, you will likely get consolation money by the person who caused the accident which is paid for your mental suffering and inconvenience over and above the cost of repairs and any hospital treatment. Minor accidents and injuries typically start at about ¥20,000. Consolation money is also paid out in divorces in the case of infidelity or spouse abuse.
Farewell money Senbetsu 餞別 is often given to folks you know who are moving, going on a long trip or to young Japanese women who are quitting their jobs to get married. Uni students going on a working holiday may get ¥10,000 to ¥50,000 while workers and workers who are being transferred or quitting their jobs to get married get about ¥1000 to ¥10,000 per co-worker (depending on their rank within the company). In some companies, when people quit their jobs they often get gift certificates or a present in lieu of cash.
Celebrating longevity Choju Iwai 長寿祝い – In Japan, Kanreki is a celebration based on the Chinese zodiac, and happens when a person has lived through the entire cycle of astrological signs and returns to the same year and horoscope sign as they were born in Achieve this amazing feat at age 60 and all your kids and grandkids have to cough up some cash. Children pay 20,000 to 30,000 yen, grandchildren pay 10,000 to 20,000 and other relatives 5,000 to 10,000. There are also celebrations at 70, 77, 80, 81, 88, 90, 99, 100, 108, and 111.
Gratitude Money Sharei 謝礼 – In the old days, this form of monetary gift ¥300,000 – 1,000,000 was for the doctor before a big operation. Although it’s technically illegal and is not as common as it once was, many older patients still pay it.
Recovery Celebration money Kaiki Iwai 快気祝い – Friends often help out while you were sick or hospitalized and it is customary to pay them recovery celebration money between ¥3000-10,000 to show you gratitude. The amount is usually one third of the estimated value of presents or cash gifts that you received while ill.
Separation money Tegirekin 手切れ金 – Listen up guys, when a man terminates a relationship with a hostess or mistress, he is expected to pay her separation money starting about ¥100,000. The actual amount depends, of course, on his income, how long they’ve been going out, and how much trouble it would cause him if she revealed intimate details to his wife or company.
Pocket Money Okozukai お小遣い – Okozukai can mean pocket money when parents give it to children, but when a man gives spending money to a mistress about (¥300,000 per month) the word takes on a completely different meaning.
Return gift Okaeshi お返し – When Japanese people receive gifts, there is usually an obligation to give a return gift called an okaeshi. For example, if you get a present for your baby, it’s common to give a return gift of one-third to one-half the value of the original gift. For weddings gifts, it is customary for half the value to be returned.
So now you know, all you need to do is find the right envelope for each of this situations.
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