How to Prepare Kouden (Condolence Money) for Japanese Funeral

Life events occur now and then and unfortunately it happens to be a funeral sometime. This time though in case there is a funeral around you while in Japan, here is one thing you should know about which is called kouden.

What is Kouden?

Kouden (香典) or Okouden (お香典) is condolence money just like weddings (not for celebrating though) and there are some rules for kouden as well. You don’t have to follow every single Japanese custom but if you don’t plan on being rude, at least you should be aware of it.

How much should Kouden be?

This is always the first question that may come up. It is totally up to you but here is some reference that may give you some idea. You could consider based on this so it wouldn’t be either too much or too little.

Colleagues, friends, acquaintances
Around 20 years old 3,000 – 5,000 yen
Over 30 years old 10,000 – 50,000 yen
Parents, family member, or relatives
Around 20 years old 50,000 yen
Over 30 years old 50,000 – 100,000 yen


How to Prepare Kouden

There is a type of envelope for kouden which is white with a faced-up black-and-white ribbon. Just make sure NOT to get one in red & white which is for celebration.  It’s available at convenience stores, 100 yen shops, book stores, pretty much everywhere.

The envelope for kouden comes with another envelope inside. Write down an amount of money you put in the front and your address & name in the back like below.

The amount should be written in kanji like ‘金 xxxxx 圓’ but no worries, refer to the table below. So the number written above (参萬圓) make it 3 man yen (30,000 yen). No problem in Arabic as well if you are not Japanese.

Numbers Numbers in Kanji
5 伍 or 五
Yen 圓 or 円

Now put the envelope with money in kouden and close it.

As a manner, kouden should be covered by a cloth called fukusa to protect it from dirt, etc. until given at the funeral reception. You could use a regular handkerchief instead as well. Here is a reference how to fold fukusa (image below is for celebration. Ideally dark color should be appropriate for condolences).

What is Kouden-Gaeshi?

If you are an attendant, you may get a gift called Kouden-gaeshi from the organizer another day which is worth about a half of the kouden you give. (e.g. something worth 5,000 yen for a 10,000-yen kouden). Koden-gaeshi would be ideally consumable like soap, food, etc.


Alright. That’s all for today.


How do you find it? Hope it helps.

See you around!

What is Osechi Ryori Anyways?

Hi there.

What is Osechi Ryori Anyways?

Osechi ryori is traditional food for the new year holiday which used to be for the royals but now it’s for everyone.

Most of food is prepared by drying, pickling, or cooking with lots of salt to avoid using fire when god gets around, but also for giving housewives some rest since osechi ryori considerably lasts long. So people can manage with the leftover during the holiday.

However, fresh food is often used today such as roast beef or even sashimi. Well, it’s just something we couldn’t do in the old days and now we can.

Why is Osechi So Expensive?

If you have seen osechi ryori on ads, you may find it quite pricey like 20K yen (about 200 US). Well, I heard making osechi ryori takes lots of hassle and near the year end, people probably don’t have much time to spend on preparation. I suppose that pays the price? Apparently it is the best business season for those food companies. My mom used to make just easy dishes just to follow tradition and add up whatever food like karaage. Heh heh.

Meanings of Osechi Ryori

Traditionally dishes have meanings like these below.

Kuro mame (Black beans)

For wishing long life and well-being, also working hard (mame in Japanese) until you get tanned like black beans.

Kazunoko (herring eggs)

For wishing prosperity of descendants.

Kamaboko (fish cake)

For good luck with its rising-sun shape and red color (to avoid bad luck) and white (for purity)

Datemaki (egg roll)

For having good education and wisdom with its makimono (scroll) shape.

Kurikinton (sweetened chestnut paste)

Good luck for financial fortune with golden color.

Tai (grilled snapper)

For hapiness and success (medeTAI in Japanese).

Unagi (grilled eel)

By a Japanese term ‘unagi nobori’ (skyrocket).

Kobumaki (simmered rolled kombu seaweed)

For YoroKOBU (happiness)

Takenoko (simmered bamboo shoot)

For wishing growth of children and success in work like bamboo shoot that grows upright fast.


Well, these mostly seem like silly jokes but they mean it. Heh heh.


How do you find it? May or may not have, it’s always good to know stuff like this for a better understanding huh?

See you around!