This article is a nice overview of the Bank of Japan’s Currency Museum. -Editor
From bolts of cloth to shimmering golden discs, from bags of rice to ingots of silver, currency has taken on many forms through Japan’s history. And as modern society moves increasingly to credit
cards and electronic payments, it is good that a museum in Tokyo has been created to record the history of physical money.
The Currency Museum, which is part of the Bank of Japan’s Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, was opened in 1985 as part of the commemorative events to mark the central bank’s 100th
anniversary three years previously. Its aim is to collect, preserve, and study historically important currency-related materials, with an emphasis on Japanese money.
The basis of the museum’s exhibition is the Sempeikan Collection, which was gathered over many decades by renowned numismatist Tanaka Keibun (1884–1956). Tanaka collected historically important
examples of currency from Japan and across East Asia, with a particular emphasis on China. The collection was held at the Sempeikan museum, but was donated to the Bank of Japan in 1944 toward the
closing days of World War II to ensure its safety.
The museum occupies part of the bank’s premises in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo, the same spot where the kinza, or gold mint, stood in the Edo period (1603–1867). Here gold coins were
created until the closing days of the shogunate. Not far away is the Ginza district, which takes its name from the mint for silver coins established here in 1612, but is today the city’s swankest
The museum has several excellent examples of gold ingots that were used as currency, along with oval gold coins known as oban—larger than a man’s hand and worth seven of the smaller oval coins,
koban, that are larger than a man’s hand. It also displays stamped gold ingots that were produced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, each of which is about 95% pure gold and weighs some 375
To read the complete article, see:
Money Through the Ages: A Walk Through Japan’s Currency Museum (http://www.nippon.com/en/features/c04501/)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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