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What is the Japanese name for the lottery?

The lottery, known as takarakuji (宝くじ) in Japanese, is a popular form of legalized gambling in Japan. Takarakuji translates literally to “treasure lottery” and refers to games where players purchase tickets with numbers printed on them and prize money is awarded if the numbers match predetermined winning numbers.

The lottery has a long history in Japan, with various forms of lotteries and raffles dating back to the 17th century. Modern lottery games were first introduced in the late 19th century during the Meiji period. Over time, the lottery system has evolved with new games being introduced by the government, which has held a monopoly over the lottery system in Japan since the 1950s.

While gambling is generally banned in Japan, the government-run lottery remains an exception along with public sports betting on horse racing, motorcycle racing, and powerboat racing. The lottery generates significant revenue for the government with over 600 billion yen in annual ticket sales. It is administered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

Brief History of the Lottery System in Japan

Lotteries have existed in Japan for centuries, often associated with temples and shrines as a means of fundraising. Some key events in the history of the Japanese lottery include:

– Early 17th century – Raffles and lotteries became popular fundraising events held at temples and shrines during the Edo period (1603-1868). These early raffles were known as tomikuji and were essentially a form of drawing lots.

– 1873 – The Tokugawa shogunate issued an edict prohibiting most gambling activities, including lotteries. However, some municipal lotteries were permitted as a source of revenue.

– 1876 – The Meiji government introduced the country’s first modern lottery called kin no kuji. It was administered by the Ministry of Finance and tickets were sold to raise funds for the Osaka Exposition.

– 1880s – Prefectural and city governments started conducting their own lotteries, leading to a proliferation of lottery games throughout Japan.

– October 1945 – The first modern nationwide lottery was established by the government after World War 2 to raise funds for social welfare programs. This was known as the Welfare Lottery.

– 1948 – The Welfare Lottery was abolished and replaced by the National Welfare Lottery under the administration of the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

– 1951 – The Distribution Law established the Government Lottery as the sole official lottery system in Japan. Municipal lotteries were banned, giving the central government full control.

– 1965 – The National Lottery was created under the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to consolidate all lottery games. This remains the dominant lottery today.

– 2000s – Lottery sales reached over 20 trillion yen annually. New lottery games continued to be introduced.

– 2012 – The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications became the administrator of the lottery system. Lottery ticket sales now exceed over 600 billion yen annually nationwide.

Types of Lottery Games

There are a variety of lottery games available to players in Japan. The major games include:

Lotto 6

– Launched in 2000, Lotto 6/45 is one of Japan’s most popular lottery games today.
– Players choose 6 numbers from 1 to 45. Draws are held twice weekly.
– Matching all 6 earns the jackpot prize, with smaller prizes for matching 3, 4 or 5 numbers.

Lotto 7

– Launched in 2005, Lotto 7/31 offers bigger jackpots.
– Players pick 7 numbers from 1 to 31. Draws held once a week.
– Jackpot for matching all 7 numbers, smaller prizes for matching fewer.

Mini Loto

– A quick-draw game introduced in 2001, with drawings every 5 minutes.
– Pick 5 numbers from 1 to 31 to win prizes. Match all 5 to win jackpot.

Scratch Cards

– Introduced in 1995, scratch cards remain a lottery staple.
– Cards have a thin latex coating that players scratch off to reveal numbers/symbols.
– Prizes revealed if card matches winning combinations. Many varieties available.

数字選択くじ (Number Selection Lottery)

– Players choose a set of 7 numbers from 1 to 35.
– Twice monthly drawings. Match all 7 to win jackpot.
– Exclusively available at Lawson convenience store kiosks.


– Launched in 2006, Big offers the biggest Japan lottery jackpots.
– Pick 6 numbers from 1 to 43 plus a “bonus number” from 1 to 21.
– Once a week drawings. Match all 6 to win jackpot prize.

Powerball Number

– Choose 5 numbers from 1 to 35 and 1 “power number” from 1 to 20.
– Daily evening drawings with large jackpot prize.

How Lottery Tickets Are Sold in Japan

There are approximately 5,000 licensed lottery ticket vendors throughout Japan. Tickets are sold both through physical ticket booths and via online/mobile apps.

At Physical Ticket Booths

– Most major lottery tickets are sold at licensed booths (takarakuji uriba)
– Booths have large illuminated “Lottery Tickets Sold Here” signs
– Customers choose their numbers on play slips and give to booth clerks
– Computer terminals at booths print and issue tickets
– Located at train stations, shopping centers, convenience stores

Online and Mobile Sales

– In recent years online/mobile apps have allowed direct ticket purchases
– Customers create accounts, store payment info and buy tickets digitally
– Winnings are deposited directly into customer accounts
– Launched in 2013, mobile app has 1.7 million users

Retail Store Kiosks

– Digital kiosks in stores like Lawson allow self-service ticket purchases
– Customers can choose numbers and games and kiosk prints ticket
– Allows purchasing tickets outside of booth operating hours
– Kiosks only available in some retail chains like Lawson

Regardless of purchase method, customers must be in Japan at the time of purchase. Lottery tickets cannot be sold outside the country.

Prizes and Chance of Winning Japan Lotteries

With multiple games and prize levels, lottery prizes in Japan range from 100 yen ($1) up to jackpots of hundreds of millions of yen. The chances of winning also depend greatly on the game and prize amount.

Lotto 6

– Match 6 numbers – Win jackpot, typically 100 million to 500 million yen
– Match 5 numbers – Win 100,000 yen
– Match 4 numbers – Win 5,000 yen
– Match 3 numbers – Win 1,000 yen
– Overall odds – 1 in 3 million chance of jackpot prize

Lotto 7

– Match 7 numbers – Jackpot starts at 100 million yen
– Match 6 numbers – Win 1 million yen
– Match 5 numbers – Win 50,000 yen
– Overall odds – 1 in 10 million+ chance at jackpot

Mini Loto

– Match 5 numbers – Jackpot of 1.5 million yen
– Match 4 numbers – Win 5,000 yen
– Match 3 numbers – Win 500 yen
– Overall odds – 1 in 8,000 chance at jackpot prize

Scratch Cards

– Prizes of 100 yen to 1 million yen
– Odds of winning vary based on card design
– Overall odds around 1 in 5 to 1 in 50

Number Selection Lottery

– Match 7 numbers – Jackpot typically above 100 million yen
– Match 6 numbers – Win 1 million yen
– Match 5 numbers – Win 50,000 yen
– Overall odds – 1 in 5 million+ for jackpot


– Match 6 numbers + bonus – Minimum 300 million yen jackpot
– Match 6 numbers – Win 1 million yen
– Match 5 numbers – Win 50,000 yen
– Overall odds – 1 in 8 million+ for jackpot prize

Taxes on Lottery Winnings

Lottery winnings in Japan are subject to taxation. This includes:

Income Tax

– For winnings over 100,000 yen, income tax is applied
– Tax rate depends on total annual income + winnings
– Ranges from 5% to 45% based on income bracket

Inhabitant Tax

– Local inhabitant tax of 10% also applies
– Based on prefecture and city/town of residence

Stamp Tax

– Small stamp tax also deducted from winnings
– 600 yen for prizes up to 10,000 yen
– 800 yen for prizes 10,000-100,000 yen
– 1000 yen for prizes over 100,000 yen

Total taxes can amount to between 10-55% of lottery winnings depending on amount and winner’s income level. Winnings below 100,000 yen are tax exempt.

Legality and Regulation of Lotteries

Lotteries are legal in Japan with regulations enforced by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications under the Act on National Lottery Business. Key regulations include:

Government Monopoly

– Lotteries can only be run by the national and local governments
– No other public or private lotteries are permitted
– Prevents unauthorized gambling and ensures public trust

Minimum Age 18

– Only adults age 18+ can purchase lottery tickets
– Retailers required to verify age via ID check
– Prevents underage gambling

Retail Licenses

– Retailers must apply for license to sell lottery tickets
– Ensures proper training, security, accounting etc.
– About 5,000 lottery booth licenses exist currently

Advertising Restrictions

– Lottery advertising must be “appropriate and socially just”
– Cannot promote excessive gambling or target minors
– Must display odds of winning

Tax Provisions

– Winnings are treated as taxable personal income
– Ensures government also benefits from lotteries

Auditing and Reporting

– Government monitors lottery operations and sales
– Sales, prize payouts, and administration costs reported
– Ensures transparency and integrity

Violations can result in revocation of retail license or even criminal charges for illegal gambling.

Social Impacts of the Lottery in Japan

The lottery generates significant government revenue but also comes with some social concerns.

Government Revenue Source

– Annual ticket sales around 600 billion yen
– Lottery revenue used to fund local government programs
– Provides steady revenue source independent of tax receipts

Problem Gambling

– Critics argue lottery fuels gambling addiction
– Players may sink income and savings into tickets
– Government provides gambling addiction programs

Other Gambling

– Lottery revenue has declined as other gambling expands
– Pachinko, sports betting remain popular
– Increased competition for gambling spending

Regressive Taxation

– Lotteries considered regressive form of taxation
– Lower income groups spend larger portion on tickets

Overall the lottery remains popular entertainment and thrives as the only legal nationwide gambling option. The government continues to promote responsible gambling practices amidst critiques.

Future Outlook

Japan’s lottery system appears positioned for continued steady sales, with potential for growth through new games and digital channels.

New Lottery Games

– Government introduces new lottery games periodically
– Adds variety and generates renewed interest
– For example, large jackpot Big game launched in 2006

Online and Mobile Expansion

– Digital purchases via mobile apps and websites rising
– Appeals to younger tech-savvy consumers
– Provides 24/7 convenience over physical booths

Marketing and Promotions

– Ongoing advertising campaigns to drive awareness
– Promote giant jackpot potential
– Tie-ins with television shows, celebrities

Entry of New Players

– Government seeking to attract new types of players
– Advertising shifted from purely financial appeal
– Promoting fun, entertainment aspect

Demographic Challenges

– Declining/aging population long-term issue
– Need to promote lottery to younger generations
– Online channels part of this strategy

Barring major regulatory shifts, Japan’s lottery should continue to generate significant revenues for the government. How the lottery navigates an evolving digital gambling landscape will impact its future growth.


In Japan, the lottery is known as takarakuji, which translates literally to “treasure lottery”. It has long history dating back centuries, though the modern regulated system began in the late 1940s under full central government control. While most other gambling is prohibited, the lottery remains an exception and generates over $5 billion in annual revenue through games like Lotto 6, Mini Loto, Number Selection and Big that offer jackpot prizes ranging from millions to hundreds of millions of yen. Lottery tickets can be purchased in physical booths, online/mobile apps and select store kiosks. Winning amounts above 100,000 yen are subject to taxation. Japan’s lottery system is governed by strict regulations that aim to prevent unauthorized gambling, underage play and addiction while capturing revenue for the government. The future outlook points to continued popularity augmented by promotional campaigns and expanded digital distribution channels.