Currency Museum Bank of Japan

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    Hours

    9:30am - 4:30pm (no entry after 4:00pm)

    Closed

    Mondays (open when Monday is a holiday) and New Year's Holidays (Dec. 29 - Jan.4)

    In addition to the above dates, the Museum may be closed temporarily at other times to change exhibits or for other reasons.

    Admission

    Free

    Access

    Subway

    1 min. on foot from Mitsukoshimae Station on the Hanzomon Line (Exit B1)
    2 min. on foot from Mitsukoshimae Station on the Ginza Line (Exit A5)
    6 min. on foot from Nihonbashi Station on the Tozai Line (Exit A1)

    JR

    8 min. on foot from Tokyo Station’s Nihonbashi Exit

    FAQs Japanese Currency

    Press the each heading to see the answer and the relevant pages.

    What was the first coin minted in Japan?

    The Wado Kaichin coin, issued in 708, had long been considered the first coin minted in Japan. However, excavations at the Asukaike Ruins in Nara Prefecture in 1998 revealed that the coin named Fuhon-sen had been minted prior to the Wado Kaichin. The excavations also revealed that Mumon Gin-sen silver coins had also been in use before 708.

    Why did old Japanese coins have a square hole in the middle?

    The origin of a square hole in the middle of round coins can be traced back to the half-tael circular coin, which was issued in the third century B.C. by Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China's Qin Dynasty. In China, circular and square shapes symbolize the sky and the earth, respectively, and the coin was considered good luck since it combined the two shapes.

    In the final stage of the minting process, a square bar was passed through the hole to make it easier to polish the sides of the coin. Similar types of coins – circular coins with a square hole in the middle – spread across East Asia, and in Japan they were used for more than 1,000 years.

    What were the currency units used during the Edo Period (1603-1867)?

    During the Edo Period, the Tokugawa Shogunate government employed a tri-metallic monetary system based on gold, silver, and copper coins. Gold coins had face values based on the quaternary system, with the denomination of one Koban gold coin being set at 1 ryo, equivalent to 4 bu and to 16 shu, while silver coins were traded by weight with monme used as the basic unit of 1 monme, equivalent to 3.75 grams. Finally, one copper coin had the denomination of 1 mon (1,000 mon = 1 kanmon).

    The official exchange rate was set by the Tokugawa Shogunate government – in the 18th century, 1 ryo of gold equaled 60 monme of silver or 4,000 mon of copper – but in practice these three types of coins were exchanged at market rates.

    What was the oldest paper money issued in Japan?

    Yamada Hagaki, the oldest paper money issued in Japan, began to be circulated in the Ise Yamada area (present-day Ise City, Mie Prefecture) around 1600. The Yamada Hagaki note was issued by priests from Ise Shrine in the course of commercial activities, and became a substitute for small change paid in exchange for silver coins. Accordingly, the note began to circulate as local currency in the area. Subsequently, similar notes were issued by feudal clans and merchants in large amounts throughout the country and circulated widely during the Edo Period.

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    Historical Events and Currencies in Use

    Ancient Times Latter half of the 7th century - Middle of the 12th century

    Latter half of the 7th century: Coins used before the mintage of Wado Kaichin
    Beginning of the 8th century: Issuance of Wado Kaichin
    From the 8th to 10th centuries: Decline in the usage of coins
    From the 11th century to the middle of the 12th century: Use of commodity money

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    Medieval Times Middle of the 12th century - First half of the 16th century

    From the middle of the 12th century to the 13th century: Inflow and spread of the use of coins
    From the 14th century to the latter half of the 15th century: Development of the commodity economy and an increase in demand for coins
    From the latter half of the 15th century to the first half of the 16th century: Erizeni

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    Early Modern Times Middle of the 16th century - First half of the 19th century

    From the middle to late 16th century: Disruption of the inflow of coins from China and the appearance of gold and silver coins
    Latter half of the 16th century: Spreading use of gold and silver coins
    17th century: Unification of gold, silver and copper coins
    17th century: Appearance of paper money and circulation of clan notes (hansatsu)
    From the end of 17th century to the first half of the 18th century: Genroku and Hoei recoinages
    First half of the 18th century: Shotoku and Kyoho recoinages
    Middle of the 18th century: Genbun recoinage Middle of the 18th century to the 19th century: Appearance of silver coins with denominations
    First half of the 19th century: Bunsei and Tenpo recoinages

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    Modern Times Middle of the 19th century - First half of the 20th century

    Middle of the 19th century: Currency and the conclusion of Ansei five-power treaties
    Latter half of the 19th century: The massive outflow of gold coins, and the Man’en recoinage
    Latter half of the 19th century —from 1868 to the first half of the 1870s: Currency system established by the Meiji government—Birth of the yen
    Latter half of the 19th century —the latter half of the 1870s: Issuance of “national bank” notes and a decline in the value of paper money
    Latter half of the 19th century —the 1880s: Birth of the Bank of Japan
    From the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century (from the 1890s to the 1910s): Establishment of the gold standard system
    First half of the 20th century —the 1920s: Outbreak of the financial crisis
    First half of the 20th century —the 1930s: From the gold standard system to the managed currency system

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