August 8, 2013 – Japan issues new coins and series, we present four of them here.
Japan 47 Prefectures Coin Program: 28th ‘Gunma’ 1,000-yen Silver Proof Coin
Tomioka Silk Mill was established in 1872 by the Japanese government, with an aim to realize the mass-production of the silk, as well as to improve the quality of this principal export item of Japan at that time. It was equipped with the Western silk-reeling technology, and became a model for other silk mills founded in various regions after that. It had been working also on the breed improvement of silkworms, and played a central role in developing the silk industry in Japan. It is said that more than 400 women workers recruited from all over Japan had learned the techniques of machine-reeling here and became leaders of silk industries in their home towns with great contributions.
The original main buildings, such as East Cocoon Warehouse, are still well preserved, though it finished the operation in 1987. It was designated as a National Historic Site in 2005 and as a National Important Cultural Property in 2006 and now is one of the most important candidates for UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage registration.
‘400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain Relations’ 2013 Proof Coin Set
Date Masamune, the first feudal lord of the Sendai domain, sent a diplomatic mission (the Keicho-era Mission to Europe) to the King of Spain and the Pope in the 18th year of the Keicho era (1613).
Hasekura Tsunenaga, the retainer chosen to lead the mission, sailed across the Pacific Ocean together with the missionary Luis Sotelo in the Sant Juan Bautista, a European-style sailing ship that had been built in the Sendai feudal domain, and received an audience with King Phillip III of Spain the following year (1614).
To mark the 400th anniversary of the Keicho-era Mission to Europe, from 2013 to 2014, a project titled the ‘Spain-Japan Dual Year’ will be launched, under which a wide range of events will be held in both Japan and Spain to promote friendly interactions between the two nations.
The Japan Mint has developed a proof coin set in collaboration with the Royal Mint of Spain to mark this anniversary.
Main images used on this coin set are gold coins from the era in which the mission was dispatched (a gold escudo coin issued in Spain in 1614 and a Keicho Oban (large-sized gold coin) in Japan) from the collections of the respective mints and the national flowers (carnations for Spain and cherry blossoms from Japan).
Japan Mint will also release a Silver Medallion of Date Masamune.
There have been a lot of legends concerning foxes in Japan. Notably, it has been widely believed that foxes have an ability to transform into humans and often trick us by their magical power…
One cold winter day, a little fox was asked by his mother to go to town to buy his mittens. She changed one of his hands into that of a human by her mystic ability, and gave him two cupronickel coins. Arriving at the shop, he said, ‘Please give me a pair of mittens which is just right for this hand,’ but he mistakenly showed a ‘fox’ hand through a gap in the door, instead of the other ‘human’ hand. The shopkeeper got surprised and suspicious, but finally realized from the two real cupronickel coins given to him that the fox did not intend to deceive him. This is how the little fox bought mittens from a human.
Monument of ‘Buying Mittens’ by Niimi Nankichi Memorial Museum. Photo: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en
This story focuses on the subject of love and trust by depicting mother-child relationships and communications between foxes and humans. On the other hand, the author proposes one severe question at the end of the story: while the little fox was happy with the mittens he got, his mother repeatedly said to herself, ‘Are humans really good?’
To celebrate the 100th year of the birth of Niimi Nankichi, an author of children’s stories, Japan Mint issues a BU coin dedicated to the Buying Mittens story.
For more information on these coins and medals please visit the website of Japan Mint.
Here you can learn a lot about the Tomioka Silk Mill.
This is the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan dedicated to the Japan-Spain relations.
How Spain celebrates this event you can see on the website Casa Asia.
Many historic pictures related to the journey of Hasekura Tsunenaga telling about this adventure have been made available here.