Shugi (祝儀)

The term 'goshugi' is also used, with 'go' being an honorific prefix.

Shugi means money given to celebrate an auspicious event (a time of joy) or in appreciation of the time and effort spent helping with the event.

Money given to express sympathy during a period of mourning or in appreciation of the time and effort spent helping with the event is called bushugi.

Shugi can also sometimes refer to money given to show gratitude to those who have provided a service or entertainment and is regarded as something like a tip. However, in Japan this is regarded as unearned income, while in the West it is often regarded as ordinary income. Shugi is also said to derive from the particularly Japanese concept of 'hare' (pure, extraordinary, vital) and 'ke' (ordinary, normal). Some specific situations include showing gratitude to Sumo wrestlers for a good show, to geisha for their performance or to nakai (waitresses in a ryokan or traditional restaurant) for offering extraordinary (Hare) service.

Shugi also refers to goods and money, including offering more than the asking price, offered as thanks or incentives to people involved in business transactions as one way to help the deals go smoothly. As an example, when a collecter or someone with highbrow tastes or a highbrow orders something which is difficult to make from an expert (a craftsman), they offer shugi as an incentive.

In gambling and related activities, shugi refers to increasing the returns to make it more exciting, or to money given to congratulate a making a difficult hand. This sense of the term is usually associated with mah-jong. This section gives more details.

Rites and festivals

Events when shugi or bushugi are given.


Occasions when shugi are given to individuals.


Shichi-go-san (a festival to pray for the healthy growth of young children)

New Year's Holidays

Otoshidama (New Year's gifts)

Entering/graduating from school/university


Getting a job


Completing construction of a building

Moving house

Kanreki (one's 60th birthday)

Celebrating recovery from illness

Occasions when shugi are given to the people involved and/or the gods (a shrine or a Shinto priest).

Donations for public works

Construction of temples and shrines

Constructions of bridges

Cleaning ditches or drains


Ground-breaking ceremony

Jotoshiki (ridgepole raising ceremony)

Shunkoshiki (completion ceremony)


Daruma-ichi festival

Hagoita-ichi battledore festival

Tori no Ichi open-air market

Asagao-ichi morning-glory fair

Society and To liven up society

Oiri (playing to a full house)

Establishing a company, opening a store, becoming independent or opening a franchise

Nenki ake (end of a term of service or apprenticeship)

Kisei teate (homecoming allowance)


Occasions when bushugi are given to individuals.

Visiting a sick person

Expressing sympathy after a fire or disaster


Occasions when bushugi are given to Buddha (temples or priests).

Buddhist memorial services

Buddhist anniversary services

Shugibukuro and Bushugibukuro

These are envelopes for putting shugi or bushigi in and are made of Japanese paper.

Noshigaki (writing the purpose of the gift on the long thin strip of paper attached to the envelope)



Kokorozuke (gratuites, tips)


Sunshi (small tokens of appreciation)

Oiwai (Celebrations)


Omimai (visits to express sympathy)

Koden or Okoden (condolence gifts)

Butsuzen or Gobutsuzen (offerings placed before the Buddha or mortuary tablets)

Reizen or Goreizen (offerings to spirits of the deceased)

Relation to origami

Refer to the 'Girei origami' (ceremoniarl paper folding) section in the history of origami.

Noshi (a thin strip of dried abalone wrapped in folded red and white paper)

Refer to 'noshi' for details.

Mizuhiki (decorative cords of twisted paper)

Types and meanings of mizuhiki


Musubikiri (a knot that cannot be undone and therefore used for events that it is hoped will only happen once) or Chomusubi (bowknot) are used depending on the kind of event. Red and white are commonly used.


Since bushigi is usually given for mourning, musubikiri is used. Black and white are commonly used.

Fukusa (silk cloths)

Fukusa refers to a small cloth used to wrap the envelopes (shugi or bushugi envelopes) in which money is put for congratulations and condolences and which helps prevents damage to the envelope.

Shugijiki and Bushugijiki

These terms refer to the custom of changing the layout of tatami mats at celebrations (shugijiki) or condolences (bushugijiki).



Goshugi soba

This term is used to describe the high prices caused by people making deals with no regard for profit or loss for good luck on the first business day of the New Year. It also refers to the first sale of the year at the stock market and at forestry and fisheries-related markets as well as the purchase and sale of good luck charms at festivals.

It is also used for the former custom of 'domoto' (bookmakers) at 'tekkaba' (gambling dens) raising the payment rate on special days.

In Japan, since the trading of stocks on the stock exchange is considered gambling, income from trading is regarded as unearned income. As such, it falls under the control of laws and regulations concerning crimes related to gambling and the lottery.

Shugi in gambling

Goshugi means a sort of bonus which is often used in games such as mah-jong.

When a player wins, having met specific requirements, a bonus is given according to Hora, the way of winning.

Examples from mah-jong

Concrete examples of the rules which apply for goshugi.

Dora (bonus tile), for each red dora tile


For each ura-dora tile


[Original Japanese]