Looking for a way to fund your exchange? Ok, maybe not the best way, but hey, they’re cheap and it’s fun to day dream! Welcome to Takarakuji, Japan’s prefectural lottery. Similar to our lottery systems in North America, the Takarakuji lottery tickets work on a randomized numerical matching system, though there are scratch version as well. Tickets generally range between ¥100 – ¥500 ($1-$5) are with draws taking place weekly, with year-end jumbo lottery draws that attract hundreds of millions of sales from people all vying to win a piece of the action. Typical jackpots from regular draws can reach up to ¥100 million depending on the ticket you purchase. However, the year-end jumbo lottery for 2015 contains a prize pool of more than ¥73.5 billion, approximately $617.3 million US dollars! Of course, this is broken down in to several first place and secondary prizes. Still not a bad take for a secondary prize worth over ¥20 million.
While most forms of gambling in Japan are illegal, Takarakuji draws are one of the few that are legal, among others such as pachinko. Though one of the stipulations with running these draws are that the main prize pool cannot exceed 50% of the total sales. This of course leaves a significant amount left over, but it’s not all withheld by the lotto company. Most of it in fact is split among local government organizations and charities.
Takarakuji tickets can be bought at just about any major station including many numerous locations around major cities. The booths are easily recognizable like the one in the picture to the right. You can usually find them around Hirakata Station, and literally all over Osaka and Kyoto. Purchasing tickets is simple process, usually all it takes is walking up and either pointing to the specific ticket you want while saying “Takarakuji “x”-mai onegaishimasu”, replacing X with the number of tickets you want, ex. ichi-mai, ni-mai, etc. They may want clarify with you which value of ticket you want, at which point you should respond with something like “San-byaku-en desu”, or “Go-hyaku-en desu, etc.”
Try out your luck, you never know, you might just get lucky! On average, one in every nine tickets win a prize. Wouldn’t that be a nice surprise for your study abroad. Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention, it’s all tax free! Good luck!