Hey everyone! Today I want to post a little Q&A (question and answer) that actually comes from an email sent to me by Andreea. She has a friend in Japan who is getting married, and was wondering what to do about the gift for her friend. You can read about how much money to give at a Japanese wedding, but Andreea also has some unique circumstances.
Q: My friend in Japan is getting married and will have a small wedding (family only). I am currently living in Europe and will not attend the wedding but I'd like to send her a gift (I see money is appropriate so I'm thinking of JPY 30,000 or 50,000).
But, I have two big issues:
- Is it ok to send a gift via bank transfer? I really don't have any other option;
- I don't know her bank details. Would I offend her if I asked her for her account number?
A: First of all, I'm assuming your friend is Japanese? If not, then, of course, the regular Japanese etiquette may not apply.
In Japan, it's normal to send "cash gifts" via postal mail - but I am not sure how well this works internationally (in the U.S., people don't send cash). However, if you can't send cash (and you may not want to, as neither would I), here are some options:
a) If you know someone else in Japan, you could ask them if it might be OK to wire money to them, and have them send your friend a gift envelope or cash gift.
b) You *could* ask for their bank account number; it wouldn't necessarily be rude, especially if they understand you wish you could be at their wedding but can't make it, but they probably wouldn't want to tell you because they are most worried about putting a burden on you - so perhaps not the best option. Although, this depends on how well you know her, and how she feels about gifts, etc. Some people may have different feelings about it.
c) You could send a gift card or gift certificate (somewhere online perhaps, or something that will work in Japan - I believe certain kinds of Visa cards and things like that can also work).
d) Another option to look into is Paypal, if your friend has a Paypal account or is willing to set one up so you can gift her money.
I hope this is helpful in some way. Transferring money internationally can often be a pain - as I've had friends and relatives ask what is the best way to send gift money to me in Japan. (I'll make a quick note about checks out there for readers - if someone sends you a check, you'll have more luck cashing it somewhere in Tokyo at a large/international bank, or another metropolitan city. However, with the exchange rate the way it is, you probably won't want to exchange your home currency for yen).
Does anyone else out there have any other ideas or useful methods you use (or someone you know uses) to send money to Japan? Please share in the comments.
Have a question you'd like answered? (By me and all the other helpful folks out there). Contact me here.
(Note: Not all questions will be posted here - I will ALWAYS ask you before I post anything on the blog, and you can remain anonymous as well. My goal is to give experienced expats in the audience a chance to answer as well, and provide useful Q&As for others to read who are new to Japan.)