It’s what kids receive on New Years day for pocket money!

In Japan we have a custom called “Otoshidama,” when adults give kids money on New Years day. There is a meaning behind it that says,“Happy New Year”and wishes for good health and happiness in the coming year. It’s a big event for children as they can finally buy some long awaited toys and games or save it for their future. Either way, it will be a good opportunity for them to learn about money.
For parents it can be quite expensive because they not only give “Otoshidama” to their kids, but to their relatives children as well.



Originally, it used to be a gift for God

People used to dedicate a round rice cake (mochi) to god in order to pray for good health in the New Year. Mochi had been replaced by money, and people started to call it,“Otoshidama.”Now days, it has become a gift that children receive when they visit to greet their relatives in the New Year.

Children can learn the importance of showing feelings of gratitude and understanding the value of money.

The money is put in a small envelope called “Pochi bukuro.” These small envelopes often have cute characters or lucky animals on them that children get excited about it. They accept it by loudly saying, “Thank you very much.” They must wait to open the“Pochi bukuro” because opening it in front of the person who gave it to you is regarded as a rude behavior. It’s a rule unique to Japan. The bills used for “Otoshidama” are usually brand new and give kids the feeling that they should use it carefully or keep it safe because it’s clean. Adults often want to give more money to their kids because they’re so cute, but it is not good for them to receive too much. It’s also important to give a fair amount of money by considering their age. It will be a good opportunity to teach politeness, show their gratitude when receiving money, and let them carefully think about how to use money.

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Writer / Translator

I’m a freelance translator from Tokyo who likes to travel right in the middle of the unpredictables in life. Through the translation of articles I hope to create points of contact between Japan and the rest of the world. As a writer, I want to add information that isn’t in the guide book, from a “wasabi” perspective!