If you have seen a small envelope-shaped pouch, it must have been one. “Pochi” means “a little bit” or “small portion” in the Kansai region (Western Japan) dialect. As you can tell from its name, pochi-bukuro started to be produced as a way to give a small amount of money, to express gratitude without going overboard. They were used for giving a tip or congratulatory gift of money for services to high-class restaurants, ryokan (Japanese inns) or to Maiko (apprentice geisha).
In modern Japan, the culture of “Otoshidama” still remains these days: where adults give money to children at New Year’s. That’s when pochi-bukuro is used the most throughout the year.
In the earliest years, pochi-bukuro was designed and printed using multi-coloured woodblock printing. These days the designs vary from old traditional style prints on Japanese paper, to western or modern designs, and you will see many kinds of pochi-bukuro in the shops especially leading up to the new year.
If you are looking for a retro or traditionally designed one, you can find a various types at well-established stationary shop “Kyukyodo” in Ginza. On the other hand, if you are looking for modern and characteristic designs, you can look for them at fine paper product shop, “Winged Wheel” in Omotesando.
Also, by using any of your favorite paper designs, you can easily make your own original pochi-bukuro by yourself. Using stamps on it makes for even more fun.
Giving with a light-heart, and receiving with a relaxed one is the way pochi-bukuro are used. How about using them in your daily life?
Nov. 21, 2017