I first read about this uniquely Japanese system of mutual care support called Fureai Kippu or “Caring Tickets” in a book on sharing economies.

I wonder how we Canadians who don’t live in a relatively homogeneous society like Japan’s could to duplicate its principals in our communities.


Two articles; the second one has a great little animated short about the “Caring Tickets” system


5 Things We Can Learn About Aging Well From Japan

1) Community time-banking.

As adult children both here and in Japan move away from their parents and home cities, the problem of who will care of aging relatives takes on greater urgency.

The Fureai Kippu or “Ticket for a Caring Relationship” system provides care for older people through the exchange of time credits. People donate their time by helping a senior and are issued tickets as payment which can then be used by a senior to “buy” services. Anyone can earn these tickets — seniors helping another senior, someone younger helping any older person in the community — and the tickets are used to pay for things like a ride to a medical appointment or a trip to the grocery store.

Adult children who have moved away can earn tickets by helping seniors who live near them and then send the tickets they earned to their own parents. The program of complementary community currency was initiated in 1995 in Japan through the Sawayaka Welfare Foundation. It’s been widely embraced in China, which now has the largest program.

While certainly people could pay someone to drive Mom or Dad to the doctor, we like the Fureai Kippu method for a number of reasons: It is community-based and feels more personal. It also allows adult children to fulfill their own traditional and emotional need to care for aging relatives by caring for someone else’s parents and earning tickets that they can send to their own family members. It just keeps it closer to the heart.


This article also has a nice minute long animated film about how the care system works.

Fureai Kippu – Compassion is the new currency

Fureai Kippu has been operating successfully in Japan since 1995. It’s an all-electronic complementary currency which originally began as a system for providing health care for the elderly. The system of Fureai Kippu, or “caring relationship tickets,” allows individuals to earn credits by caring for a local elderly person or anyone in need of care or assistance. The basic unit of account is an hour of service. These Fureai Kippu can be saved for the individual’s own use in the future, or transferred to someone of their choice, typically a parent or family member who lives elsewhere in the country and who needs similar help. Currently, some 374 non-profit organizations in Japan are issuing and participating in exchanging Fureai Kippu across the country through two computerized clearing houses.

Photo courtesy of GratisBasis