Ryogoku Kahei (領国貨幣)

Ryogoku (daimyos' own territory) kahei (coins) are gold and silver coins which daimyos (Japanese feudal lords) at various places ordered to mint for circulation in their territories from the Sengoku period to the early Edo period, and are also called Ryogoku Kingin (gold and silver).

Ryogoku kahei may also be called chiho (regions) kahei, but the former is distinguished from the latter, because the word 'chiho kahei' was used to mean the coins for circulation inside the territories, which were frequently issued by various domains, mainly toward the end of Edo Period.

Summary

Ryogoku kahei referred to chiho hallmark silver used mainly for commercial transactions, and in many cases included gold and silver coins, which were awarded to those who had rendered distinguished services in the Sengoku period.

Since the middle of the 16th century, namely the Sengoku period, demand for gold and silver increased for financing the war effort and for giving awards, and therefore gold and silver mines were actively developed to increase the production of gold and silver, especially the latter, the production of which was world's biggest and is estimated to have reached one third of the entire world's production.

The sakin (gold dust) which had been produced in Mutsu Province from time immemorial was used for transactions on the basis of quality and quantity; and in the course of time, nerikin (agglutinate gold) made of dissolved sakin with a hallmark put on or takenagashikin (gold agglomeration made by putting dissolved sakin into a bamboo cylinder) began to be used, and furthermore bankin (gold coins) such as hirumokin (gold plate like a leaf of hirumo [a plant which grows on the sea sand]) which were made by beating gold blocks into the form of plates began to be made, and at first they were circulated as Hyodo kahei (currency valued by weight).

Also, gokuin-gin (hallmarked cupelled silver) made by putting hallmarks to haifuki-gin (cupelled silver) produced at many silver mines which were dotted from western Japan to Hokuriku and Tohoku regions, and kirigin which were used by cutting gokuin-gin into smaller (rectangular) pieces (each with a hallmark) began to be used as silver-by-weight standard for transaction. These gokuin-gins are described in such literature as "Shokoku (various districts) Haifuki-gin Yose (collection)", and many of them are rarely found, but some of them are exhibited in the Mint Musium. Ko-chogin (silver bars which had been produced before 1601) were made by beating haifuki-gin, but they were brittle and easily cracked because of containing impure substance, and could not be made thin like gold and so chogin were in the shape of yuzuriha (Daphniphyllum macropodum) or in the pig style.

As mentioned above, gold and silver coins were minted by vendors such as kinya (gold shops) and ginya (silver shops) from the materials produced at gold mines and silver mines in daimyos' own territories, however, they were used as payments for importing weapons such as hinawaju (matchlock guns), raw silk thread, Asian ginseng, and so on, and a large amount of them flowed to foreign countries. Also, the Sengoku period was a period of of competition for gold mines and silver mines at various places.

It is said that Motonari MORI, who had the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine in his territory, issued Sekishu chogin, etc., that Koshu Kin (gold coins) were minted by Shingen TAKEDA, who had many gold mines such as the Kurokawa Gold Mine, etc., and were succeeded by the koban (former Japanese oval gold coin) currency system (ryo, bu, shu) of the Tokugawa shogunate, and that Kenshin UESUGI issued Tensho Etsuza Kin; however in each case very few actual examples of them currently exist. Also, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI issued so-called Taiko (retired imperial regent) Kinginsen (gold and silver coins), such as Tensho-Oban (gold coins issued in 1588) and Tensho-Tsuho (coins issued in 1587); however, in many cases, Oban, Chogi, etc., which were intended for the unification of the whole country, are not included in ryogoku kahei. Once these coins entered the market, many of them were taken to money changers, such as gold shops or silver shops, and converted to senka (base metal coins) for use, as the precious metals were worth more than their money value.

Keicho koban (oval gold coin) and keicho chogin (oval silver coin), which can be considered as ryogoku kahei issued by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, eventually established their position as an official currency cast by the government for the unification of the whole country, but were not made sufficiently available in the chiho (regions) because a large amount of Keicho gold and silver flowed out to foreign countries, failing in the nation-wide currency unification, and therefore, ryogoku kahei such as chiho hallmark silver issued by silver mines at various places, were still used in parallel, serving to fill the shortage of Keicho gold and silver, silently allowed to circulate, and used by daimyo (Japanese feudal lords) of various provinces also as a means to exchange with Keicho gold coins, the central currency at the time of Sankin-kotai (daimyo's alternate-year residence in Edo). At the end of 17th century when lower-quality Genroku Koban (oval gold coins) and Genroku chogin (oval silver coins) were issued, the calling-back of ryogoku kahei by kin-zas (organizations in charge of casting and appraising of gold during the Edo period) and gin-zas (organizations in charge of casting and appraising of silver during the Edo period) made progress and the unification of currency was achieved at long last. On the other hand, in Kai Province, which was a tenryo (a shogunal demesne), the Matsumoto family, the Koshu kin-za, was allowed to continue the issue of Koshu kin, lasting till the Gembun era (1736-1740).

"Sankazue" (Picture Collection of Three Coins: History of Coinage in Japan), authored by Morishige KONDO and Naokata KUSAMA, includes many gold and silver coins issued from the Sengoku period to the Edo period, among which there were even those created later on and not a few of which were made using the old diagrams and are now treated as ganshohin (ornamental items), but many of them lack accurate records, and it is unknown whether some of them were originally circulated coins or ganshohin.

Gold coins

Koshu Kin (Koshu gold): Kokokin, Muse, Haichu, Seshimoyasu, Sechuyasu, Haishige, Haisada; valued at 1 ryo, 2 bu, 1 bu, 2 shu, 1 shu, shuchu, etc. They were minted by kin-zas of Matsunoki, Nonaka, Shimura, and Yamashita, and during the Edo period only Matsunoki family was allowed to mint gold coinds.

Tensho Etsuza Kin: hallmarked with '天正' (Tensho) and '越座' (Etsuza), and it is said that they were minted using gold dust produced at Nishimikawa, Sado, with a diameter of 1.76 centimeters and a weight of 1.87 grams.

Kaga Koban: hallmarked with '壹两' on the upper part of the front side and '才二 (written seal mark)', '用介 (written seal mark)', etc. on the lower part, and in addition a round-framed plum blossom, which was the family crest of the Maeda family, is placed at one to three positions. Its ryome (a weighed value) is 16.7 grams.

Keicho-koban Suruga Sumigaki Koban/Suruga Bokusho Koban: '駿河京目壹两 (written seal mark)' (Suruga Kyome [old Japanese unit of measure used around Kyoto] One Ryo) is written in Indian ink and it is said that Ieyasu TOKUGAWA or Kazuuji NAKAMURA, who was a vassal of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, had it minted. Its ryome is 16.7 grams.

Keicho-Koban Musashi Sumigaki Koban/Musashi Bokusho Koban: '武蔵壹两光次 (written seal mark)' (Musashi One Ryo Koji) is written in Indian ink and it is said that Ieyasu TOKUGAWA ordered Shosaburo Koji GOTO to mint it. Its ryome is 17.8 grams.

Silver coins

Silver coins are described in "Shokoku Haifuki Gin" (various districts' cupelled silver collection), etc.

Tsugaru Hirosaki Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '弘前' (Hirosaki) in a Mokko-mon frame and of 99.4 percent purity.

Tsugaru Obbu Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '寳' (takara, treasure) and of 98 percent purity.

Dewa Kubota Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '窪田' (Kubota) and of 93 percent purity.

Dewa Innai Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '院内' (Innai) and of 90 percent purity.

Dewa Noshiro Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '能代' (Noshiro) and of 90 percent purity.

Dewa Yuzawa Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '湯澤' (Yuzawa) in a Mokko-mon frame and of 99 percent purity.

Dewa Kakunodate Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '角舘' (Kakunodate) and of 99 percent purity.

Dewa Yokote Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '横手' (Yokote) and of 95 percent purity.

Dewa Akita Shinden Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with arrows and feathers and '極' (Goku) and over of 90 percent purity.

Dewa Yonezawa Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with Chinese characters placed in Kikko-waku (hexagonally-shaped frame), but the characters are unknown.

Sado Toku Tsu In-gin: a board-like piece of silver hallmarked with '徳' (Toku, virtue) and '通' (Tsu, pass), minted with much lead added, lowering quality after Hoei era (1704-1710). Its quality was high at first, but lowered to 75%, and then 39%.

Echigo Kanji Gin: a board-like piece of cupelled silver hallmarked with '寛' (Kan, grace) and of 92 percent purity.

Echigo Eiji Gin: a board-like piece of cupelled silver hallmarked with '榮' (Ei, prosper) and of 80 to 83 percent purity.

Echigo Shikami Gin: cupelled silver with deeply carved shikami, which means wrinkles and of 78 percent purity.

Echigo Hoji Gin: Shikami Gin hallmarked with '宝' (Takara, treasure) and of 78 percent purity.

Echigo Takada Daitokuji Gin: a board-like piece of cupelled silver hallmarked with '徳' (Toku, virtue).

Kaga Hanafuri Gin: rectangular board-like Hanafuri Ichi-mai Gin (160.5 grams), and reed-shaped silver block called Hanafuri Hyaku-me Gin (374.0 grams and 373.5 grams), etc.

Inaba Jinbei Gin: board-like piece of silver hallmarked with '甚兵衛' (Jinbei [informal summer clothes for men]), and 30 to 36 percent purity.

Unshu Mokko Bangin/Unshu Bokka Bangin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '宝' (Takara, treasure) in a Mokko-mon frame, and 70 to 78 percent purity.

Yamaguchiyo Gokuin Gin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '山口余' (Yamaguchiyo).

Kokura Hirata Bangin: cupelled silver coins hallmarked with '平田' (Hirata).

Sekishu Chogin (collective term of silver): the Mori clan had this minted using silver produced at the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, as well as Hagiko Chogin, Yuzuriha Chogin, Goshuno Chogin, etc. In addition, there are others, including Bunroku Sekishu Chogin, which Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI is said to have ordered minted for financing the war effort in the Bunroku campaign.