Koban Gold Coins

Monday, December 26, 2011

The koban gold coin (not to be confused with koban meaning police box) was an Edo Period Japanese flat, thinly beaten coin, oval in shape.

Koban Gold Coins, Sado
Koban gold coins, Sado Gold Mine Museum
The gold koban were produced from metal mined from Sado Gold Mine on Sado Island and each koban was equal in value to one ryo, which in turn was equal to three koku of rice - a koku being the estimation of rice needed to feed one person for one year (about 150kg).

Koban at Sado Gold Museum, Aikawa

The Tokugawa currency gradually became debased over the centuries leading to inflation, which was one of the reasons the Tokugawa regime was in deep financial trouble by the time Commodore Perry arrived in 1853. The koban was replaced in the Meiji Period with the Yen based on Western standards.

Koban Gold Coins, Sado
Gold koban

Japanese ceramic maneki neko are often made holding a koban coin for luck and are called "Koban Maneki Neko."

Maneki Neko

See a video of Sado Gold Mine

Sado Gold Mine map

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