Japanese Culture and Daily Life

photos: Hongo Jin / illustrations: Asayama Yuki
How much money do high school students use for daily expenses? Where do they get such money? This issue takes a look at the allowance books of four Japanese high school students. We also collected data on the allowances of some students in high schools in the United States and Australia. What sorts of things do you notice from this information? This topic gives us a chance to zoom in the sorts of things high school students buy and the activities they are involved in.
O-kozukai ( allowance ): High school students receive spending money from their parents in various ways. Some get a set amount from their parents on a specified day; others receive cash when they need it for particular expenses, and so on. According to one survey,* the largest proportion, or some 38.5 percent, of Japanese high school students receive an average monthly allowance of between 4,000 and 5,000 yen.
* Karaza Report '99 vol. 3, Kumon Children's Research Institute, 1999.

Let's take a look at monthly accounts of ...

Kotaro, 16, first-year, private high school, boy, Tokyo

Details of Kotaro's Accounts

Yu, 17, second-year, private high school, girl, Saitama prefecture

Sample of Yu's Monthly Accounts

Shunsuke, 18, third-year, public high school, boy, Chiba prefecture

Sample of Shunsuke's Monthly Accounts

Ryo, 17, second-year, public high school, girl, Hokkaido

Sample of Ryo's Monthly Accounts

Data and activities



Based on data from 61 students in 2 classes obtained with the coopration of Joanne Shaver, Japanese-language teacher at a public school in the state of Virginia, U.S.A. In Virginia, students can get a driver's permit at 15 ( allowing them to drive with a licensed driver in the car ) and a license at 16 years.The average allowance in these classes was US$200. Of 61 students 54 had part-time jobs.

data1 Karaza Report' 99 vol.3, Kumon Children's Research Institute, 1999.
data2,3 Chuugakusei kookoosei no nichijoo seikatsu ni kansuru choosa hookokusho [ Report of the Study on Youth and Mobile Phone Use ], Japan Youth Research Institute, 2000.


Data provided by Julia Clancy of Wangaratta, Australia.
Let's Try !

Try taking a survey in your class, too, using Japanese, to ask about how much allowance you and your classmates receive and spend each month. Then think about questions like those below. ( Even among high school students of the United States and Australia, there are likely to be differences in amount of allowance and money spent by region and from one person to another. The differences reflect the lifestyles of each individual person. We hope that this topic will also alert students to the diversity of lifestyles of Japanese students as well. There will also be similarities that transcend the national differences. In such cases, it is valuable to consider the reasons for such similarities. )

Q.1 What are the top 5 items on which members in your class spend their allowance most often? Think about the background reasons and features of the data and compare them with datas 1 to 3.

Q.2 In the survey cited on datas 1 to 3, the proportion of high school students doing part-time jobs is more than 75 percent for the United States and about 50 percent for Japan. Looking at the diagrams, think about the similarities and differences in the purposes and significance of working part-time, the ways the money earned is used and the daily expenses needed that parents cover, and the various reasons. Refer to the information on arubaito and cell phones in your discussion.

TJF would like to express its special thanks to the four Japanese high school students, and to Joanne Shaver of the United States, and Julia Clancy of Australia for helping to collect data for this issue's A Day in the Life. The photographs in this feature are drawn from the TJF Photo Data Bank. Note that the four students featured in the text are not those appearing in the photographs.

Original text : The Japan Forum Newsletter no20 "A day in The Life" March 2001.

Send feedback to forum@tjf.or.jp