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New Money

March 2nd, 2005

Japan has recently overhauled its paper money. There are only four bills–the 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000-yen denominations. The 2,000-yen bill is a new introduction; I like it a lot personally, but merchants hate it, so that’s that. In practice, there’s just the three bills. So recently, those three got face lifts with several anti-counterfeiting measures, just like U.S. money has been revised recently (more than once–what’s with that?). Here are the new bills next to the old ones (new bills on top):


The old 1,000-yen bills have famed author Natsume Soseki (“Kokoro“) on the front, but he has been replaced by microbiologist Hideyo Noguchi, Whose claim to fame is that he isolated the cause of syphilis (umm, okay). Personally, I think he looks a lot like a Japanese version of Lyle Lovett, what with the hair and all.


The next bill is the 5,000-yen denomination, and this bill has something even U.S. paper money hasn’t had yet: a woman on the front.


The woman’s name was Ichiyo Higuchi, a 19th century author. A fitting decision in principle, as women’s rights have advanced at least somewhat over the past few decades, and this choice seems to acknowledge that. She replaces Inazo Nitobe, a bespectacled educator of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Finally, 19th century educator Yukichi Fukuzawa remains on the 10,000 yen bill, though it did get the anti-counterfeiting makeover:


And maybe it’s just my imagination, but Fukuzawa seems to be standing up just a tad straighter. Maybe he thinks he has to shape up a bit or the next time he’ll get replaced.

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