Japan is not a tip required country, but there are certain occasions in which you are asked to give money as a way of expressing your wishes. Here are the popular examples of money-related Japanese customs and traditions of which you may want to know in advance.
Weddings and funerals are the very cases when you need to hand in money if you are invited. At both celemonies, you should bring Japanese bills, preferably unfolded new ones, enclosed in a special envelope when you arrive at a reception. For a wedding, it’s called Goshugi, a gift of money, to congratulate the bride and groom. For funeral, it’s called Gokohden, a consoldence money, to show your deepest sympathy to the deceased and his or her family. The amount of money you give depends on the relationship you have to that person. If you are not sure, it’s no harm to ask other attendees or Japanese friends about the amount before the date. The special cash envelopes are available at convenience stores. Usually, an envelope with a red-and-white tie is for a wedding and black-and-white ones are for a funeral.
Osaisen, a donation made when praying at a shrine is another common presenting of money in Japan. Unlike weddings or funerals, it’s totally up to you how much money you offer and it goes directly into Osaisen-box by throwing it in with your hands. Actually it started with farm products that ancient Japanese people offered to Gods when they prayed. It is known that offering five Japanese yen, go-yen in Japanese, brings an opportunity upon you as go-yen means precisely “good chance”. But more so than the amount of money you throw in, how you do it, your motivation and attitude are important!
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.