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Japan Word of the Day #92 – Ryōshūsho

Today’s Word is: Ryōshūsho (領収書)

Ryōshūsho (領収書) in Japanese is what we call a “receipt” in English.
It’s a document that summarizes purchases of items/services made and the amount of payment received, including taxes.
However, you’ll notice in Japan sometimes people ask for ryōshūsho even after they’ve already received printed receipts. Why is this? It’s because there are two kinds of receipts in Japan.

One form of ryōshūsho is a typical receipt printed on thermal paper by a cash register.


As you can see, on the receipt it’s clearly printed “領収書 (ryōshūsho)” and indeed summarizes purchases made and payment received.
However, people in Japan usually call this type of printed receipts “reshīto (レシート)” and differentiate it from the other type, in which I’m going to talk about next.

The other type of ryōshūsho is hand-written receipts.
When you say ryōshūsho, most people think you mean this hand-written type, as opposed to printed reshīto. In many cases, reshīto are not recognized as valid legal documents under Japanese tax law. Hand-written receipts are harder to falsify, therefore considered a legitimate proof. That’s why people ask for hand-written ryōshūsho when they want to write something off as expense, so to avoid trouble in later auditing process.


Most stores and services in Japan will issue, upon request, a formal receipt hand-written and stamped by their employees. The format may look different from one to another, but it must contain the following information: Date, payment made, items/services purchased, contact information of the issuer, consumption tax, stamp of the issuer, and the company name/business name of which the customer is going to write off as an expense for. The last one is important to remember, because when you request someone to issue you ryōshūsho, he/she is going to ask you “to whom do I write it for?” Thus, be prepared to answer with an appropriate business name.*

*Some people ask it to write for “uesama (上様)” as non-specific business name, but this technically cannot be used as a valid proof of expense.

If all you want is a printed receipt for your personal record, ask for reshīto! If you ask for ryōshūsho they’ll think you want it for your business!

Image source: Theater house, Rakuten