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Japan: Kanonji kanei tsuho

Started by Figleaf, April 24, 2010, 02:02:50 AM

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Japan's Kanonji Looks to 17th-Century Currency to Aid Economy
April 22, 2010

April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops in western Japan's Kanonji started this month accepting coins that first circulated almost 400 years ago as currency to attract visitors and boost the local economy.

The coins, called kanei tsuho, are usable at about 60 businesses in the Seto Inland Sea port, known for a sand sculpture carved to look like the Edo-era currency. Keizo Fujita, a local restaurant operator and a promoter of the plan, said he hopes the campaign will bring new revenue to the city of 64,000, which relies mainly on farming and retail services.

"Dealers estimate there are as many as 10 billion of the coins," Fujita said by telephone. "We hope tourists can imagine they are in another era by paying with the old currency."

Kanei tsuho, first issued by the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate, was cast in denominations of one and four mon. Four mon bought a skewer of rice dumplings in 1768, according to the Bank of Japan's Web site. The coins were phased out after Japan introduced the yen in 1871.

Participating merchants in Kanonji will value the coins at 30 yen (32 cents) each. Fujita, who also sells souvenirs at a weekend flea market, said he's accepting up to 20 coins per transaction.

"Some people have come a long way just to use their coins," he said. "One customer wanted to pay with 250 coins."

Dealer's Price

While obsolete banknotes, including 1-yen bills, are still recognized as legal tender by the Bank of Japan, kanei tsuho isn't. That's because the currency pre-dates the yen system, said Takashi Ezaki, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.

A coin dealer in central Osaka's Tenjinbashi district earlier this month agreed, after some gentle negotiating, to sell four of the coins for 500 yen. The coins, which have holes in their center, have also been sold as ornaments attached to products like cellular phone straps.

Yoshitake Hara, a contractor who is also promoting Kanonji's plan, said it's up to the participating businesses to decide how many coins they will accept. Some hotels, for example, will take up to 100 coins, amounting to a 3,000 yen discount on a night's stay. Hara said he will take up to 1,000 coins as payment toward a construction contract.

--Editors: Drew Gibson, Fergus Maguire.

Source: Business Week
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


 :D But I still have to wait until Japan Air accepts them on to 4.000 € ...  :'(