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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cash Envelopes

Envelopes with cash have been left in public toilets across Japan as a bizarre form of anonymous charity turned into a nationwide phenomenon. A day after two small cities on the main island of Honshu reported finding cash in men's rooms in public buildings, officials disclosed that they too had discovered the packages.

The unusual charity drive was a top story on national television, with media estimating at least $19,000 had been dropped off in bathrooms. Each drop-off has the same format - a package of individually wrapped 10,000-yen notes ($180), each with an identical handwritten letter. "Please make use of this enclosed inheritance money to fund your self-enrichment," each letter says, handwritten with a traditional brush and evoking the language of Buddhist monks.

Officials in Miyazaki prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu and in Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido both said they had found such packages in recent weeks. "We don't know who left the money or for what purpose," said Yoshinori Sato, a spokesman for the Sapporo city hall. "We didn't know until yesterday that the case in our city was one of a series of events nationwide. "I'm really surprised," Sato said. Kyodo News said cash had been found in more than 10 public office buildings across the country.

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