JAPAN GENHO TSUHO 1659 AD Nagasaki trade coin


JAPAN, Nagasaki trade coin, 1 mon, no date (1659 AD), Obverse: GENHO TSUHO, 1-dot square head TSU, bronze, 24mm, 3.18g, H3.176, F

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The coin is an imitation of a rare Chinese Northern Song type.

The Japanese government designated the city of Nagasaki as the only point of contact for the Vietnam trade. In 1659 production of special coins was allowed, and the Genho Tsuho coins were made until 1685.

The Japanese took their idea of coinage directly from China, making square holed cast bronze coins starting in the 8th century AD. The chinese had been making coins for 1300 years already, so the Japanese could see what the benefits and problems were. There is the possibility, given the rarity of the earliest Japanese coins, and the existence of silver versions, that the whole coinage thing started with a palace game of Let’s Play Chinese. My main reference is the book: Early Japanese Coins, by David Hartill.