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Japan - currency and regions

Japanese national currency history

In Japan, the history of money circulation began with the use of cowrie shells as the first monetary units, so the graphic element “shell” Zh is included in almost all hieroglyphs, the etymology of which is related to financial activities and payments. For example, the hieroglyph Zh "kau" - "buy", y "zai" - "capital", |t "tameru" - "save", etc.

The first Japanese coins were made according to the Chinese pattern. During the reign of the Tang Dynasty in China in 621, a round bronze coin with a square hole in the middle was cast, it was called kai-yuan-tong-bao. Diplomats and missionaries brought such coins to Japan, where in 708

The first Japanese wadokaiho bronze coin was cast according to their model. It also had a round shape and a square hole in the center. On the sides of the hole, clockwise, there were four hieroglyphs "wadokaiho". Of these, the first two hieroglyphs “wado” are presumably the name of a historical era or the motto of a good, happy omen, and the second two hieroglyphs “kaiho” are literally translated as “value” or “jewel”, which can be considered the first name of the monetary unit. Wadokaiho coins were found during excavations at an archaeological site in the Chichibu area of ​​Saitama Prefecture.



From 708, for 250 years, the Japanese imperial court issued 12 more types of specie. Given such a variety, the distribution area of ​​coins was limited to the central regions, and the authorities made significant efforts to activate monetary circulation among the population living in areas remote from the capital. Also, due to the shortage of copper, the quality of coins was steadily deteriorating, all this led to the fact that by the end of the 10th century, the production of coins had practically stopped.

Over the next 200 years in Japan, the function of money was performed by such valuable goods as rice and silk, they were a financial instrument in any transactions. However, by the end of the Heian period (794-1185), in connection with the development of agriculture, domestic state production and foreign trade with China, there was an urgent need to introduce a monetary unit into circulation. Coins brought from China, the so-called toraisen, are actively beginning to be used. However, active internal and external trade demanded large volumes of specie, therefore, from the beginning of the Muromachi era (1336-1573), Japan began to mint its own Japanese coins, shichusen, following the model of toraisen. These coins were privately produced by large clans and wealthy merchants. There were various ways of minting shichusen, but still their quality was much lower, than the Toraisen. Therefore, Chinese coins until the 16th century were considered a standard and served as a kind of standard for assessing the value of local money.

Since the 16th century, Japan has entered a long period of internecine wars and political fragmentation, the daimyo princes of strong clans, in an effort to strengthen their positions, actively develop mining in their subordinate regions in order to extract precious metals - gold and silver. Influential and wealthy principalities begin to mint their own gold and silver coins. This money was used for the next 150 years until the issue of a single state coin of the Bakufu government of the Tokugawa shogunate. After the unification of the country under the rule of the Tokugawa Ieyasu clan, who won victory in the historic battle of Sekigahara, the shogunate began issuing a single state coin in 1601, this event was followed by the release in 1670 of an official ban on the use of Chinese toraisen coins. The monetary system was unified, and three types of coins were put into circulation: gold, silver, and small bronze or iron coin sen. Also, from the beginning of the 17th century, the first paper money began to be printed. The existing system of monetary circulation did not have a clear structure and was rather cumbersome. In addition to the central government, 244 more principalities received the right to print their paper banknotes. As a result, along with gold and silver coins, various paper banknotes of individual issue were actively used.

The next historical Meiji period, which was marked by the collapse of the Bakufu government and the restoration of imperial power in 1868, brought new changes to the monetary system of Japan. The new bourgeois government of the country introduced the decimal system of the national currency. In 1869, a new monetary unit was issued - the yen, which, as a result of the monetary reform of 1871, was officially adopted as the basis of the national currency unit. According to one version, the yen got its name thanks to

round shape (“en” in Japanese means “circle, circle”), this became its distinctive feature, since the coins of the Edo period (1600-1868) had an oval, rectangular or indefinite shape of a gold or silver bullion. The yen received the status of an internationally recognized currency only in 1953, when the International Monetary Fund approved its parity of 2.5 mg of gold.

Bank of Japan notes are currently in circulation in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen. In addition, there are coins: 500-yen sample 1982 (nickel, with the image of paulownia), 100-yen sample 1962 (nickel, with the image of sakura), 50-yen sample 1967 (nickel, with a hole in the center , depicting a chrysanthemum), 10-yen sample 1959 (bronze, depicting the Phoenix Pavilion of Byodoin Monastery), 5-yen sample 1959 (bronze, with a hole in the center, depicting a rice ear) and 1-yen-wai (aluminum, with the image of a young tree). In Japan, after the end of the Second World War, commemorative coins began to be issued, the theme for which was the Olympic Games, International Exhibitions (Expo), etc., including the anniversary of the establishment of local autonomies - prefectures,



Regionality and its importance in Japanese culture

Administrative division

Japan is known as a country with a small territory, but an extremely diverse natural landscape. In a small area of ​​the archipelago, coastal fishing villages, and modern megacities, and overgrown with forests, mountain corners remote from civilization, and islands scattered in the sea, where a small number of people live, coexist. The natural landscape and resource potential have influenced the formation of the economic and cultural characteristics of each region. For example, proximity to the multimillion-dollar Tokyo, large flat land, suitable for growing vegetables, Saitama prefectures allowed it to become an agricultural and logistical center "supplying" Tokyo. And Nagasaki - the southern sea gates of Japan - became the only city where trade with Europeans (and only with the Dutch) was allowed on a specially built (artificial, one and a half hectare) island of Dejima in the period from 1641 to 1859, when the Japanese authorities carried out isolation policy.

Historically, Japan was divided into provinces, headed by the feudal daimyo, who had enormous powers. A curious fact is that these provinces were called kuni (country), while each country is a province with great love cultivated its regional differences: local crafts, culinary delights, dialect. Balancing between the desire for independence and the location of the metropolitan authorities, the Japanese regions have long competed with each other in winning the glory of an honorable first place in a particular area. Undoubtedly, such competition contributed to the development of technology, infrastructure, improving the quality of manufactured goods and the search for its own regional "brand". On the other hand, it also became the cause of political and military confrontation.

The modern administrative division of Japan finally took shape during the period of modernization of the country, known as the reforms of Emperor Meiji. By 1871, as a result of transformations, instead of 300 provinces, there were 72, and in 1888 47 prefectures were finally established. The names of the prefectures have changed, but still


Emperor Meiji

Since then, the old, "pre-revolutionary" names are present in geographical names, trademarks of local products.

Currently, Japan consists of the following administrative entities: 1 capital city of Tokyo (to:), 2 cities equivalent to prefectures: Kyoto and Osaka (fu), Hokkaido Governorate (do:) and 43 prefectures (ken).



Small homeland: prefecture as a component of modern culture

Wherever a Japanese lives, the small homeland (furusato) - the region from which he comes from, will always be of great importance to him. Many Japanese in communication emphasize their regional features, which help them to distinguish themselves in the team. For example, when coming to Russia, the Japanese from the so-called snowy regions of Niigata or Toyama, located along the coast of the Sea of ​​Japan, always emphasize that it is easier for them to adapt to the Russian winter than the inhabitants of the Pacific coast, where snow is an extremely rare occurrence. Talking about their homeland, the Japanese will talk not only about historical sights or architectural structures, but also about folk crafts and, of course, about the food that this prefecture is famous for. So, for a resident of the largest trading city of Osaka, an integral part of the culture of this city, emphasizing its regional zest, there will be an okonomiyaki dish. This is a very “democratic” dish, when all participants in the meal fry together on a hot baking sheet a Japanese “pizza” made from dough, to which cabbage, other vegetables and meat or seafood are added. This dish emphasizes the character of the city - devoid of pretentious aristocratic conventions in cooking, it is quickly prepared, tasty and satisfying and will not hit your wallet - just what you need, it is very suitable for trade people who are dynamically developing their business.

The development of regions is an urgent task of the authorities. The aging of the population and the outflow of young people to the capital are becoming the most pressing challenges for the Japanese province. Prefectural administrations are doing their best to make their region attractive for living and for tourists. An important place in this business is occupied by the so-called branding: when a certain product or product becomes a kind of hallmark of the region. For example, if it comes to Aomori Prefecture, which is in the very north of the island of Honshu, then any Japanese will connect it with branded apples. The history of Aomor apples began at the end of the 19th century, when seedlings of new varieties of apple trees were brought to Japan from the United States. The mild climate of Aomori is best suited for growing apples.
Now more than half of all apples in Japan are grown here. This is where the selection takes place. In order for an ordinary apple to become a high-quality, “branded” product without a single flaw, each apple is covered with an individual paper bag during the ripening period, periodically turning the fruits so that they evenly redden under the sun. Starting in August, Aomore branded apples are sold in expensive department stores by the piece, with the amount of sugar and a "honey ring" on the cut around the core. The production of juice, jam and other products from apples is also established here. In other regions of Japan, Aomore apple fairs are held, organizing delivery throughout the country. The growing technology, sales, and policy of positioning apples as the prefecture's signature product have made all other apples in Japan unrivaled. The example of Aomori is very indicative in the sense that it reveals the approach of the inhabitants of the region to fixing a certain segment in the general panorama behind their edge.

In addition to food and culinary culture, similar processes are observed in the popularization traditions, folk crafts, holidays and festivals, historical sites, etc. Each city carefully preserves its history, finding unique features in it and attracting tourists from all over the country with its local features. For example, the city of Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture is located southeast of Tokyo. Being a major seaport in Tokyo Bay, it was he who was the first to open to foreign ships. Many foreign innovations appeared for the first time in Japan here: newspapers, tennis, horse racing, and even a public toilet. The mixture of languages ​​and cultures, Western-style buildings, Chinatown and the atmosphere of the port city create a special aura of Yokohama, the city - a small "foreign" city within Japan: if you want to see everything "foreign" - go to Yokohama for a day!

This attitude of the Japanese towards the regions, the desire to emphasize the uniqueness of each region of Japan is reflected in numerous series of photographic exhibitions, magazines and books, paintings and contemporary art, exhibitions of manufactured goods and folk crafts, representing all the prefectures of Japan.

The series of coins issued on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the formation of the modern administrative division of Japan fully fits into this “regional” aspect of the existence of Japanese culture.