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Death in the family 2012/8/29 04:57

Is it customary in Japan that when somebody passes away to give some money to the family? I picked this up during a discusion about customs in Japan and wonder if it is true and where the money is used for.

B. Slager
by B. Slager (guest)  

Re: Death in the family 2012/8/29 11:41
I'm not Japanese, but I have some experience with this, so until someone comes along with more and better information....

What you heard is correct. The money is used to help defray expenses, for flowers, etc. It is called Okoden.

There are special envelopes with black and white ribbon that you are supposed to use. Fancy ones have actual ribbon (braid, really), while less expensive ones have the ribbon printed on the envelope. The ribbon is tied a certain way, as well.

My father-in-law also said that old bills should be used. If you use new bills, it implies that you were preparing for the person to die (which is unseemly), but if you use old bills, it is like saying ''I was caught unawares by his passing, these were all I had on hand.'' Even if the person had been dying for months, you use old bills. I don't know if that is a widespread custom, or just his idea.

There is a twist, though. The recipient family (within a reasonable amount of time after the funeral) is expected to send ''Okoden kaeshi'' (''in return for Okoden'') which is usually a small gift that is valued at about 30% to 50% of the Okoden. There are even catalogs (from special companies) that the bereaved family can send out to the people who sent them Okoden. If I remember correctly, the catalog is either divided by the amount of Okoden, or there are different levels of catalogs for different levels of Okoden. You can't let someone who only gave 10,000 yen order from the same selection of goods as someone who gave 100,000 yen, right? So the people who gave Okoden fill out the order form with their selection and send it back to the bereaved family, and the bereaved family then pays for the orders.

And finally, God help the family that doesn't keep track of who gave how much!
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Re: Death in the family 2012/8/29 11:44
As to the type of goods in the catalog, think of a department store catalog combined with Sharper Image, if you know what that is.

I "ordered" a set of nice Japanese cooking knives the time I sent Okoden and was then sent a catalog.
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Re: Death in the family 2012/8/30 02:39
Thanks Here for the response.

B. Slager
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