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Otoshidama, the New Year’s Present Children in Japan are Waiting for

By Staff Writer
December 23, 2022
Have you heard of Otoshidama? Today it means the money children receive in New Year. As the end of the year approaches, children in Japan starts to plan what they will do with their prospective otoshidama that will come to them in the coming January.

On January 1st, families in Japan gather at home. The parents give their children some money as a New Years’ gift.
An otoshidama envelope with money stuffed inside
Children typically receive otoshidama in envelops with illustrations of seasonal things and sometimes popular manga/ anime characters from their relatives such as their grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

The price of otoshidama varies from family to family. Also, the price children get changes as they grow.

However, otoshidama did not take this form in the old days. Actually as a word, otoshidama means “New Year’s gift.”
A multi-generational family sitting around a table for a New Year meal
In the early modern period, people presented each other diverse otoshidama, such as medicine, fans, and rice cakes.

There are still diversity in otoshidama tradition in Japan.

In the coastal areas of Shimane Prefecture, it is said that the god of the year comes to distribute otoshidama on New Year's Eve. On the island of Koshiki in Kagoshima Prefecture, young men dressed as Toshidon, blessed gods with a big red or blue face, a high nose, and a mouth that stretches to the ears, go door-to-door to give children rice cakes as otoshidama
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