Money for kids: O-toshidama refers to the money children get from older family members to celebrate the new year. | GETTY IMAGES
LANGUAGE | BILINGUAL
Put your money where your mouth is
BY PETER BACKHAUS
JAN 8, 2018If it’s true that money makes the world go round, it does so mostly in silence. People like to have it, that’s for sure, but they’d rather have it without talking about it. Japan is certainly no exception in this department and yet, the Japanese money vocabulary is quite expansive, amazingly complex and certainly deserving of closer inspection.
Money, as such, is most commonly referred to as お金 (o-kane), where the honorific prefix “o” already betrays the taboo nature of the term. If you drop it and say something like 金が欲しい (kane ga hoshii, “I want money”), the money you announce to be in need of will come across as considerably “dirty” money or at least not particularly well-earned.