Japan, Kan'ei Tsūhō (Iron)

Date: 1739 - 1859 CE
Edo Period

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Item Description:

 Iron Kan'ei Tsūhō, valued at 1 mon, were minted by the Japanese during a period of copper shortage in the late Edo Period (1739 - 1859). These coins were originally cast from a copper alloy beginning in the early Edo Period (1603 - 1768), after centuries of using Chinese coins for trade. However, Japanese copper mines began to run dry in the early 1700's and the government switched to iron to continue creating money.

When you think of feudal Japan, you're almost certainly thinking of the Edo period. This was the age of the samurai and the daimyo, a coalition of wealthy landowners that effectively ruled Japan. But more than that, the Edo period is known for isolationOutside trade was heavily regulated, traveling abroad was completely banned, and foreign books were made illegal. Yet despite all, Japan's economy and culture flourished. Japanese isolation finally ended in 1853, when American Commodore Matthew Perry forced open the doors of Japanese trade. The introduction of new goods was disastrous for the Japanese economy, and the Edo period ended with the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

These Kan'ei Tsūhō mon coins are some of the few surviving reminders of this period, minted at the height of the samurai and daimyo's power.

See also: Japanese 100 Mon Coin, Japanese Copper Kanei Tsuho


A woodcut of the daimyo Fukushima Masanori, a feudal lord of the early Edo Period.


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