Funerals in Japan are auspicious affairs, to be attended by close friends and relatives.
Funerals in Japan are auspicious affairs, to be attended by close friends and relatives.

Japanese funeral condolence money is known as “koden”. You put koden in a small envelope with a thin black and white ribbon wrapped around it. These envelopes are available almost anywhere stationery is sold in Japan and come in a variety of qualities. Specific funeral customs vary from region to region in Japan, but in general it is considered awkward to send funeral money unless absolutely unavoidable. If you must send koden, prepare two different envelopes: a ceremonial koden envelope for holding the money, and a standard envelope for sending the ceremonial envelope through the postal system.

Koden Envelope

Purchase a koden envelope at a stationery store, bookstore, 100-yen shop, department store or other store that carries stationery. The envelope will be white with a black and white ribbon wrapped around it.

Get fresh, crisp bills to put in the envelope. New bills show respect. Go to the bank and ask for new bills. If you don’t know how to ask for new bills, bring the koden envelope and show it to the clerk;, who will understand.

Put the money in the envelope. How much koden”you give depends on your relation to the deceased. Though different scales may exist, according to David Aldwinckle, a good rule of thumb is 2,000 yen for the distantly connected, 5,000 yen for friends, 10,000 yen for relatives, 30,000 yen for potential heirs and 50,000 yen for siblings.

Write the amount of money on the outside of the koden envelope. The receptionist at the funeral will write this amount next to your name in a funeral registry for the family to look at later.

Postal Envelope

Prepare a standard postal envelope with the pertinent names and addresses. Make sure the envelope is big enough hold the koden envelope.

Place the closed koden envelope inside the postal envelope. Do not write on the postal envelope after the koden has been placed inside.

Ensure there is enough postage on the envelope, then send the envelope.