If you didn't know, Tuesdays are not only dedicated to various points of interest among my hobbies but developing stories in technology, art, and design. Today's topic will revolve around Japanese currency. In a surprising turn of events, brand new designs for the one thousand, five thousand, and ten thousand bank notes have been annouced to start circulation in 2024. So, I thought "hey, maybe people don't know what Japanese currency looks like"; so here we are. For the sake of brevity, I will reserve the explanaition of the new bills until next Tuesday
Considering that most of my readers are unfamiliar with the current Japanese bank note designs, I will show and discuss the individuals on each note, whilst briefly explaining the design motifs adorning the reverse side in ascending order.
On the obverse side of each note is a portrait of a historical figure that has been recognized as being a major contributer to Japanese society. The person chosen for this honor on the 1000 yen note is Hideyo Noguchi. Noguchi was a prominent Bacteriologist in the early stages of the 20th century. His most famous contribution is his identification of the causative agent of syphilis (the bacteria Treponema pallidum) in the brain tissues of patients suffering from partial paralysis due to meningoencephalitis. However, his legacy his marred by many inanccurate medical findings and ethically questionable scientific practices in his latter years. The inaccurate findings in his medical research may actually be contributed to Noguchi's untreated contraction of syphilis in 1913, likely developing into neurosyphilis by 1928.
On the reverse side of the note is a decorative image of Mt. Fuji and Cherry Blossoms that was originally adapted from a photograph by Koyo Okada.
The front of the 5000 yen note features the Meiji era writer and poet, Ichiyo Higuchi. Though she died at a young age, Higuchi is highly regarded as one of Japan's first prominent writers of modern times. Famous for her fictional short stories, Higuchi is particularly noted for her classical Japanese prose derived from the Heian era. Due to the beautiful nature of her writing, many of her stories are not translated into contemporary Japanese. However, this purest mindset leaves alot of her writing inaccessible to modern Japanese people. On the flipside, her most famous stories have been adapted into movies; themes usually circulating around romance as well as the ambition and cruelty of the Meiji middle class. Unfortunately, Higuchi tragically died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.
The reverse side of the note depicts a section of the famed "Irsis Screen" by artist Korin Ogata.
Lastly, the 10000 yen note is the largest denomination of all the Japanese bank notes. The front features a portrait Yukichi Fukuzawa, a prominent author, writer, teacher, translator, entrepreneur, journalist, and leader who founded Keio University and the Institute of Study of Infectious Diseases. Though he was never appointed to any form of government position, Fukuzawa is largely regarded as one of modern Japan's founding fathers due to his advocacy for governement reform and ideas involving the structure of social institutions as a normal citizen during the Meiji period. Fukuzawa spent a great deal of time travelling on missions to the US and Europe as a translator on behalf of the Tokugawa shogunate, subsequently becoming well informed on all things western. This, no doubt, led to his progressive thinking on Japan's behalf to remain free of western Imperialism, instead using his knowledge to inform society about the benefits of adopting aspects of western society for the betterment of Japan's future. This even extended into the advocation of women's rights in most circumstances. However, Fukuzawa was not without his flaws as he was later criticized for his nationalist attitude for supporting the First Sino-Japanese War. Fundamentally, he believed in the independence of the people and nation, modeled after observations made in America and European societies.
The reverse side of the note features a drawing of the Hōō in the Hall of the Phoenix.
As I stated previously, I'm going to save our converstation of the new designs until next Tuesday. At that time I'll make a side-by-side comparison of the current and succeeding bank note designs. Hopefully, you guys learned some interesting things and are encouraged to do more research in the future.
What do you think? I believe the United States Treasury announced some new currency designs last year. Is there someone you believe should be recognized on your nation's currency that isn't? Maybe someone that shouldn't? How often is currency redesigned in your country? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,