It is so interesting that different, unconnected, languages have the same, or very similar expressions to describe everyday life and feelings. I guess it tells us clearly that people of different races and cultures are essentially the same in the way that they think – many of these shared expressions originate from a long time before modern communications allowed various cultures to influence each other.
In English we have many expressions connected to ‘money’ which I think exist in Japanese, and other languages (hello to our new Spanish readers) 🙂 The title of this posting, for example, “Not for love nor money … ,” is usually used to talk about something you definitely wouldn’t do. For instance, one of my friends in the UK, who is scared of flying, sometimes says, “I wouldn’t get on an aeroplane, not for love nor money.” I started thinking about this today as I waited in Sumitomo bank with my little boy.
Before reading the rest of this post, think about all the expressions in Japanese related to the word money and try and translate them into English!
For the past year or so, every night when I have come home from work I have deposited any loose change (coins) from my pockets into Hugo’s piggy bank, promising him that when it was full we would use the money for his Xmas presents, or whatever. You can see the piggy bank in the photo below. I bought it at Rinku town outlet shopping centre and it looks nice on my desk. You can see the size of it by the pen lying next to it – I put the sunglasses on it to stop the reflection of the camera! 🙂
My wife, who, in the typical Japanese style, looks after the money in our house, is always complaining that money burns a hole in my pocket, meaning that she thinks I spend money to quickly, and too easily. However, I always tell her that I put the change from any money she gives me when I go shopping in Hugo’s piggy bank. She never believes me, and sometimes we had some arguments about money. In English, we say that when money walks in the door, love flies out the window, which kind of signifies that when couples start to argue about money, their original love disappears.
My mum always told me that if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves. My mum is quite careful with money, and I think that people of her generation and social class generally are, because they grew up after the war when times were difficult and people really understood the value of money. It is not usually my habit to save money, because my wife is in fact quite right, I do spend money too easily, and I am happy for her to take charge of our budget, but for the past year or so, as I said, I have saved all the pennies from my pockets every night, simply to buy something nice for my son (and daughter).
The bag that I carried the money in was very heavy, and it had taken around 10 minutes to get all the money out of the piggy bank – it was unbelievable how many coins were inside. I apologised to the clerk because it was really heavy and in England you have to put all the coins in special bags before you go to the bank, so I was a bit worried the staff might be annoyed with us. Anyway, the bank staff at Sumitomo Otori branch were very friendly and my son was very excited while we waited for them to count the money. The machine was very noisy and other staff were coming over to ask our cashier what she was doing. She pointed over to the excited little boy and the hairy gaijin and they all smiled.
So, as we sat there in the bank waiting for them to count our money, I said to my wife, “How much do you think there is?” She paused for a moment, and said, “Around 30,000 yen maybe?!” I told her she was mad, and said there must be at least 50,000 and she replied that I was wrong, and what did I know about money anyway. Hugo was by now working out in his head how many sweets he could buy, or how many medals he would be able to get in the game centre.
Our name was called and we walked over to the counter nervously, me wondering if it is possible that these machines the banks have ever make mistakes, my son wondering how he was going to spend the money, while my wife was probably still asking herself how she can reduce her husband’s pocket money a little more.
The lovely assistant gave Hugo a huge smile and said to him, “Little boy, you have 79,367 yen, and one US dollar.” I grinned at my wife, my son became very excited, and my wife blamed me for the dollar.
Mrs HonTony suddenly said that it was better if the money was paid directly into her bank account as then we wouldn’t have to pay any charges. Five minutes later, as we sat in the ramen shop next door having lunch, her mood seemed to have changed. She seemed to accept that maybe I didn’t waste as much money as she had thought. As I ate my yaki-meshi and wondered what percentage I might recieve for my good work and new found ninkimono status, the wife looked up from her noodles, and between slurps and slow, methodical, calculations she said, “Well, we’ll put 20 thousand in each of the kids’ accounts, and the rest we’ll use as spending money on our holiday in Okinawa next week. As I choked on a piece of gyouza and shouted for a beer, my lovely wife stated loudly, “Not now papa, we’re saving for our holidays, remember …?”
The moral of this story? Spend it while you’ve got it!