From charity to chocolate, the best ways to blow ¥500

Inspired by a recent When East Marries West column by Thomas Dillon (“¥500: the most expensive coin in the world, kinda,” Nov. 23), The Japan Times asked readers to email or tweet their suggestions of the best ways to use a single ¥500 coin for a chance to win edible prizes from The Meat Guy, Pie Mad Japan and Sweet Jamaican Things. Prize-winners were chosen randomly. Here are some of the entries:

Go to Zeniarai Benten shrine in Kamakura. According to tradition, if coins are washed in this deep pool, they will increase in number.

Use ¥500 coin for entrance charge (¥100) and you’ll get a small washing basket, incense and a candle. Get the ¥400 change and wash the coins.

With the washed ¥400, buy two scratch-card lottery tickets (¥200 per piece).

For the result, you can expect good luck.


Get a day pass on Toei subway, go to every stop on the Oedo Line and fart loudly.

Winner of black Christmas cake from Sweet Jamaican Things (www.sweetjamaicantings.com)

My answer: several postcards of beautiful Hawaiian scenery. With them, I can travel in my mind during the cold winter in Japan :)


Visit a community supermarket/grocery at night and score some half-price/discounted food items for the week’s fridge refill: two pieces of saba (mackerel) (originally ¥200), for ¥100; one pack of cut salad (originally ¥100) for ¥80; one pack of mixed veggies (originally ¥100) for ¥80; crab meat (originally ¥243) for ¥121; six mini-tomatoes (originally ¥128) for ¥115. Total: ¥496, with change of ¥4.


I would sell it (as the world’s most expensive coin) to coin collectors on eBay!

Coin cost: $5

Postage: $1.50 (JP airmail, no tracking)

eBay fee: $1.50 (includes PayPal fees)

Sell price: $10

Profit: $2


I can convert the ¥500 into peso and buy a bible, give it to a friend. That would be the best thing I can do, because if she reads the bible and applies it in her life, it could change her for the better.


Like the fellow who fills up his kitchen jar with the coins and then “blows it all,” I have been diligently removing “left-over” ¥500 coins from my pockets each evening after returning home and putting them in those little plastic coin boxes from the ¥100 shop.

I don’t intentionally withhold the coins from circulation as I’m out and about — I will use them as easily as any other coin in the lineup — but whatever happens to be in my pocket upon my return home goes into those little plastic boxes. I have four of them and each one holds ¥25,000 (50 coins).

I’ve been following this ritual for 15 years or so (first suggested to me by a now long-gone friend) and find that I usually manage to fill up those boxes twice each year. At first I used them to pay for my mother’s hotel when she visited but these days they are earmarked for my son’s education.

Getting into the habit was at first a little difficult, but like so many other oft-repeated actions, it quickly morphed into ritual — an easy way to set aside something for a rainy day or a favourite project.

Winner of range of 10 pies from Pie Mad Japan (www.pie-mad.com)

#500yen Buy chocolate and share with someone . . . Then happy together forever after! That’s how I would spend my ¥500


With ¥500, I’d spend it at [¥100 shop] Daiso, then enjoy it in my hobby of crocheting and share it with my friends. First, I’d go to Daiso and buy three thick rolls of yarn for ¥315 and a package of rubber bands for hair for ¥105. Next, I’d have fun making lots of hair scrunches to give to my lady friends and their daughters.


With ¥500 I would buy “Grand Theft Auto III: Japanese Edition” from the App Store for my iPhone!


I collected them once to pay our car tax. I had ¥39,500 in two bags (for two cars) which I took to the bank and handed to the lady at the front. She didn’t look very happy to have to count them, just as I was not very happy to pay car tax. Now we save them for either car tax or shaken [vehicle inspection fee].

Winner of black Christmas cake from Sweet Jamaican Things

Buy coffee for a stranger. #500yen



1) With #500yen, I’d get 16 Black Thunders and go into a chocolate-induced coma.

2) I’d stick it in my belly button, cross-dress, go to Shinjuku on Friday night and charge drunk salarymen to take it out with their teeth. #500yen

3) Walk into a high-end jewelry shop wearing #500yen as a monocle and ask to try on the most expensive items they have.

Winner of cake from Sweet Jamaican Things

1) Go a coin-operated laundromat. For ¥500 you can wash a large futon. Then you can sleep and have sweet dreams on crisp, clean, lovely scented bedding, tonight and long into the future . . .

2) Make a ¥500 donation for food for orphaned pets. Lots of NPO groups and organizations are doing this, but you probably have to do this online rather than handing over the coin.

Winner of Jamaican Christmas cake from Sweet Jamaican Things

Ingredients for authentic Italian spaghetti bolognaise for four: 161 grams of ground beef (¥158), onion (¥16), 400-gram tin of Italian tomatoes (¥148), 500 grams of Antonio DeNiro pasta (¥178, bought today Bon Marché supermarket, Himeji).

Chop the onion and put in a pan with a little cold olive oil and wait 10 minutes. Then heat over a moderate heat. When soft, add the ground beef and cook until brown and the juices run out. Add tin of tomatoes and heat for five minutes. Add salt and pepper, a Knorr chicken stock cube and a little water. Then simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes.

Find cheaper pasta and spend more on beef!

Winner of ¥5,000 of goods from The Meat Guy (www.themeatguy.jp)

• Eat standing udon/soba: ¥280

• Buy takarakuji (lottery) ticket: ¥200

• Use public phone to say “hi” to friend: ¥10

• Pray a lucky wish in a local shrine: ¥5

• Donate the rest to a dog cause (there is one spot near the West Exit of Yokohama station)


Seeing that I’m always hungry (I usually blame it on the fact that I’m nursing a constantly hungry baby, but it’s a lie — shh), here’s how I usually spend my coins: Walk to the ¥100 store that sells food; buy bread, a large bottle of water for myself, and a can of hot milk tea for the homeless man near my house; give the change to whatever charity box is at the cash register.

Winner of black Christmas cake from Sweet Jamaican Things

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