A Different Kind Of Begging

One thing that you don’t find much of in Japan is people begging for money. Even in the big cities, it’s the exception to the rule rather than the norm. I’m not sure exactly why. I imagine it’s a combination of both the law and social norms that don’t allow for it in most cases. All I know is that the lack of it struck home when I went to San Francisco to visit my sister and I was getting asked for money every block.

The one exception to the begging rule is monks. While still few and far between, you’ll run across one every once in awhile. Even then, they are dressed in an outfit that completely disguises who they are and remain standing in one place while chanting prayers. When my friend came to visit, we ran across one in Kyoto.

Monk in Kyoto with cup for coins

This seems a lot more civilized than on the streets of San Francisco where people begging often times get right into your face.

I sat and watched for about 30 minutes. Since the monk was situated in a fairly touristy area, I imagined that he would receive a lot from the foreigners passing by, but a good 80% of those that left money were Japanese. While I don’t know the actual coins that were being given, he had 29 people leave something in his cup while I watched, so about a donation a minute. It was an interesting comparison and I know I much prefer the Japanese way of begging compared to the US version.

3 thoughts on “A Different Kind Of Begging

  1. I don’t have any official knowledge here, but assume that it goes back to the temple and for food for the monks. Then again, anyone could conceivably dress like this and keep it for themselves…

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