My sweet darling friend gave my son an envelope as a present for sixth grade graduation.  Inside was, of course, money!  Yay!  She knows just what a twelve year old boy really wants.

It’s such a pretty envelope, isn’t it?  One thing about living in Japan that is important to remember is that money is NEVER, and I mean NEVER, handed over directly.    Cash is always in some sort of envelope.  They may be beautiful envelopes for special occasions.  Or just a plain brown envelope for whatever.   It’s kind of a big deal in japan.

There are all sorts of rules for money giving as present for weddings or funerals or other occasions.  New money only, old money only, odd numbers only.  I really don’t know the rules myself.  So I headed to the internet for handy dandy research.

I found this by Alice Gordenker.   This is excellent.  Really pretty envelopes.  (This blogger is a professional writer for the Japan Times.)

Also this by the same person.



While at a bookstore/stationery store, I took a photo of various envelopes.  Japanese people themselves don’t know all the rules, so there were guidelines at the shop:


Marriage  (You can see the money amounts suggested.  man 万 means “ten thousand” and en 円of course means “yen”.  So you can see on the sign 10万円以上  That is read as jyuu man en ijyou and means “more than one hundred thousand yen.”)


Funeral  (You can tell by looking at the envelopes in the sign that colors and style of the envelopes must be somber.)


Celebration other than marriage (The list on the right gives examples of occasions for gift giving.)


Some more envelopes.  As you can see, there are really a wide variety of styles.


Honestly, sometimes I just want to buy these envelopes for fun.  Cuz they are so pretty.


More envelopes in a different style.

Here is another explanation that is good:  http://www.alc.co.jp/speaking/article/kihon/65.html

Japanese tend to give money more than presents and westerners tend to give presents more than money.  (Although I think the trend in America is to give gift cards.)  I can see the value of both.  Sometimes it is nice to get money and buy what you want.  But also, it can be nice to have a treasured present from a loved one.  Of course, in both countries it is pretty flexible……you can give what you want!