Silver coins of Japan

Japanese silver coins are a real collector’s item. Vintage specimens have an interesting history of origin and unusual design. Many samples have been perfectly preserved to this day due to the fact that the ancient masters were professional in the art of coinage and passed on skills from generation to generation, they also used high quality precious metal. Modern commemorative and investment money is not inferior in originality and quality.


For a long time, Japan was isolated from the outside world. Trade relations between the inhabitants were built on rice or on coins that came into the country from China.

At first, the currency was imported by foreign traders. When it became necessary to increase the amount of money, minting was continued in private industries. Ancient specimens were produced from copper, less often silver was used. The appearance was completely copied from a Chinese coin – a round shape with a square hole inside.

The decentralized production of coins led to the fact that by the end of the 16th century, about 1,500 types of national currency and foreign money were in circulation in Japan. To put money exchange in order, Emperor Tenotomy Hideyoshi organized the production of gold and silver samples according to a single standard. All private production moved closer to the capital.

The mints that issued the gold coins of Japan, and also controlled the stocks of the precious metal, were called “Kina”, and the mints of “Ginza” minted money from silver. Did you know? In 1871, the state mint was opened in the Japanese city of Osaka. The country did not have its own equipment, since heavy industry did not develop as quickly as in the West.

They wanted to modernize the production as much as possible, so they brought in most of the equipment imported from foreign countries. The Mint also spearheaded the abolition of headgear and the wearing of swords, as well as the provision of comfortable clothing for factory work. Thus.

the Osaka Mint pioneered the introduction of European and American culture in the early years of the Meiji era (1868-1912). From 1607 to 1867, Japan used the “re” unit of exchange for the exchange rate. 1 re weighed approximately 15 grams and was equal to 4 but or 16 Shu, as well as 4,000 mon.

Silver samples were minted from precious metal 880-991 samples. The last copies were produced from 650 silver. A distinctive feature of the coins of the Edo period is a rectangular shape (9×15 mm). The name of the mint, the denomination and the guarantee of quality were indicated on the surface.

The characteristics of Japanese silver coins of the Edo period have changed eight times due to regular re-minting. If the first copies of re weighed about 15 grams, then the latest samples contained only 10 grams of the precious metal.

Despite the rather large circulation (about 60,000,000 copies per year), coins made of gold and silver were not so popular among the people, since they were used for large transactions or paying taxes. Copper money was used in everyday life. Did you know? In 1600, food and clothing in Japan could be bought with silver. A liter of rice cost 0.15 grams of precious metal, a liter of soybeans – 0.21 grams.

One candle cost 0.60 grams of silver (in 1615 the cost rose to 3.75 grams). 1 sq. m. of white fabric cost 7.30 silver, while a square. m of shiny fabric was no more than 13.73 grams. A liter of oil could be bought for 4.99 grams of silver, and a liter of sake cost 0.62 grams. Despite the fact that Japan had strict regulations for the issuance of silver coins.

In 1867, the emperor adopted a decree on changing the monetary unit. All previous banknotes were replaced by the yen, which was equated to 100 seen or 1000 rim. Coins were minted from gold and silver from 1867 to 1932. The denomination of silver copies corresponded to 5, 10, 20, 25 and 50 seen, as well as 1 yen.

Did you know? During the Edo period, Japan did not have enough of its own small denomination silver coins to trade with foreign merchants, as money was exported from the islands in large quantities. The thing is that Japanese samples were highly valued in foreign countries due to the fact that they contained up to 80% of the precious metal and were unsuitable for forgery.

When a Japanese merchant did not have enough of his own coins to pay, but needed to make a deal, Japanese hieroglyphs were minted on the Mexican 8 reals coin. In 1932, when the countries of Europe and the USA abandoned the gold standard and switched to the production of paper notes,

Japan also stopped issuing regular silver coins. Money from precious metals was issued only during important events. The first commemorative copies were minted in 1967 in honor of the Summer Olympic Games, which were held in Tokyo. In 2002, circulations began to be produced with the addition of colored glaze.