Happy New Year! Here’s a fist full of cash!
In Japan, there are many interesting New Year’s traditions. Aside from watching TV all night, risking your life eating mochi, and indulging in a ton of specially prepared food, those lucky enough to be young receive money.
Otoshidama, roughly translated as “New Year’s gift,” is the act of giving children small, decorated envelopes filled with money during New Year’s. Parents, relatives, and close friends usually give Otoshidama to children in elementary school to high school.
After collecting envelopes full of money from their closest adult relatives and friends, these kids make out like bandits. But just how much are these kids hauling in? The Benesse Corporation conducted a survey of elementary school children to find out.
According to a survey of 607 parents of elementary school students from grades first through sixth, the monetary amount given during New Year’s varies based on a child’s grade:
1st – 2nd grade: 1,000 yen (US $11)
Over 90% of respondents said they give less than 3,000 yen (US $34) to first and second graders.
3rd – 4th grade: 3,000 yen (US $34)
Around 10% of respondents said they give 5,000 yen (US $57) to third and fourth graders. A few parents said they multiply their child’s grade by 1,000 yen (US $11) to calculate how much money to give.
5th – 6th grade: 3,000 yen (US $34)
The majority of parents said they wouldn’t go any higher than 3,000 yen when giving otoshidama to elementary school children of any age.
How are these kids spending their money?
#1 – Savings (57%)
#2 – Purchase toys (32%)
#3 – Purchase game software (32%)
#4 – Give to parents (29%)
If 29% of children simply give the money back to their parents, do the kids ever see that money again? Do the parents put the money into a savings account…or do they just spend it themselves?
According to a January 2012 survey conducted by a credit union in Kawasaki, Japan, the average amount of otoshidama money that a first year elementary school student received was 26,875 yen (US $305). This was an increase of 2,548 yen (US $29), or 10.4%, compared to 2010. The same survey found that on average, each elementary school child receives otoshidama from 5.5 people, but the largest sum of otoshidama money was given to an elementary school second grader and came in at a whopping 130,000 yen (US $1,475).
I guess it pays (literally) to have a lot of relatives and parents with many close friends…