Tenpō Tsūhō

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One-hundred mon
Value100 Japanese mon
Mass20.7 g
Diameter49 (long) x 32 (wide) mm
Thickness2.6 mm
Edgea shirushi () indicating the mint of origin.
Years of minting1835 - 1870[2]
Catalog numberStandard Catalog of World Coins C#7.1 & C#7.2
Tenpō Tsūhō (天保通寳) - Chokaku - As6673 01.jpg
Design (Tenpō Tsūhō)
Tenpō Tsūhō (天保通寳) - Chokaku - As6673 02.jpg
Design (Tō Hyaku, equals 100), and the Kaō of Gotō San'emon.[3]

The Tenpō Tsūhō (Kyūjitai: 天保通寳/天保通寶; Shinjitai: 天保通宝) was an Edo period coin with a face value of 100 mon, originally cast in the 6th year of the Tenpō era (1835).[4][5] The obverse of the coin reads "Tenpō" (天保) a reference to the era this coin was designed in, and "Tsūhō" (通寳) which means "circulating treasure" or currency.[6] The Kaō is that of Gotō San'emon,[7] a member of the Kinza mint's Gotō family (), descendants of Gotō Shozaburo Mitsutsugu, a metalworker and engraver from Kyoto appointed by shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1600 to oversee the Edo mint of his shogunate and oversee its coinage.[8][9][10] All mother coins were produced in Edo (present day Tokyo) before they were sent to other mints where they would place the individual mint's mark (shirushi, ) on the edge of the coin. The coin circulated for 40 years, and stopped being produced during the Meiji Restoration after the introduction of the Japanese yen. Today these coins are now sold as "lucky charms" as well as being collected by numismatists.


An "Edasen" () made from Tenpō Tsūhō coins.

The Tenpō Tsūhō came around a century after the introduction of the Hōei Tsūhō (Kyūjitai: 寳永通寳 ; Shinjitai: 宝永通宝) during the 5th year of the Hōei era (1708), which had a face value of 10 mon (while only containing 3 times as much copper as a 1 mon Kan'ei Tsūhō coin), but was discontinued shortly after it started circulating as it wasn't accepted for its nominal value.[11][12]

The Tokugawa government started issuing the 100 mon coin in 1835 as a way to combat its fiscal deficit, but due to the debasement of the copper in the 100 mon denomination (5½ times a 1 mon Kan'ei Tsūhō coin)[13] which lead to chronic inflation in commodity prices, this has been compared by economic historians to the inflation caused by the introduction of the 100 wén minted by the Qing dynasty due to the Taiping rebellion in 1853, or the 100 mun coin issued by the Kingdom of Joseon in 1866, both of which were also cast to combat government deficits. Unlike the Chinese 100 wén whose production stopped after a single year,[14] and the Korean 100 mun which was only produced for 172 days,[15] the Tenpō Tsūhō continued to be produced for the duration of the Edo period. Despite this the actual market value of the Tenpō Tsūhō was significantly lower than its face value and was estimated only at 80 mon during the end of the Bakumatsu in 1869, while the coin had become the most commonly circulated mon denomination; accounting for 65% of all mons circulating at the time.[16]

Between 1835 and 1870 a total of 484,804,054 Tenpō Tsūhō coins were produced.[17]

A Ryūkyū Tsūhō (Kyūjitai: 琉球通寳 ; Shinjitai: 琉球通宝) of 100 mon, a coin designed to look like the Tenpō Tsūhō

From 1862 a similar coin with a nominal value of 100 mon based on the Tenpō Tsūhō was minted by the Satsuma domain under the reign of daimyō Shimazu Nariakira (under the guise of producing currency for the Ryukyu Kingdom), as with the Tenpō Tsūhō this was done to combat that domain's deficit. This proved successful and the Satsuma coin started to circulate all over Japan as well.[18][19][20]

Glico Caramel Box imitation coins[edit]

In the 1950s coin collecting had become popular in Japan which lead Ezaki Glico to give away Tenpō Tsūhō coins as prizes to children who had collected points which could be accumulated from purchasing Ezaki Glico caramel boxes. As Ezaki Glico soon ran out of genuine Tenpō Tsūhō coins they started producing near identical fake Tenpō Tsūhō coins to meet the demand, these imitation Tenpō Tsūhō tend to have deeper cut characters on the coin's reverse. These Glico-produced coins are worth more than genuine Tenpō Tsūhō because of their scarcity.[21]

Cultural references[edit]

  • The Tenpō Tsūhō is a collectable item in the 2013 American video game Tomb Raider, which can be obtained inside the Cliffside Bunker on Yamatai.[22][23]


Tenpō Tsūhō coins are a prized coin in the numismatic community, but as over two dozen variants exist the price of each coin is dependent not only on the quality of the individual coin but on various other factors such as mint marks and era, ranging from ¥1,250 (or around $12) to ¥300,000 (or around $2,800),[24] though more worn out coins sell for as low as $4.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 『造幣局長第三十七年報書(明治四十三年度)』 大蔵省造幣局、1910年 (in Japanese)
  2. ^ Colnect Coin Catalog Coin catalog : Coin › 100 Mon (百文 - Tempo Tsuho)
  3. ^ 古銭 - 天保通宝 (in Japanese) 天保通宝は、天保6年(1835年)に百文通用として鋳造されました。Retrieved = 12 June 2017.
  4. ^ Krause, Chester. 1996 Standard Catalog of World Coins, 23rd edition, Krause Publications Inc, Iola, Wisconsin, United States, 1995, C7, p.1367/7
  5. ^ Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences. "100 Mon coin from Japan". Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Guide for attribution of Tenpo Tsuho (1835–1871) 天保通寶". Heinz Gratzer & Vladimir Balyaev (Chinese Coinage Website). 11 October 2003. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  7. ^ 滝沢武雄 『日本の貨幣の歴史』 吉川弘文館、1996年 ^ 『造幣局長第三十七年報書(明治四十三年度)』 大蔵省造幣局、1910年 (in Japanese).
  8. ^ Screech, Timon. "An Iconography of Nihon-bashi". in Theories and Methods in Japanese Studies: Current State and Future Developments. Bonn University Press, 2008. p330.
  9. ^ The British Library’s Sado Mining Scrolls by Hamish Todd, British Library Journal (24:1), pp. 130–143. Retrieved = 12 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Kinza". Hyakka jiten Mypedia 百科事典マイペディア. Hitachi Solutions, 2008–2010. Accessed via kotobank.jp, 12 June 2017.
  11. ^ TAKIZAWA Takeo, (1996) Nihon no Kahei no Rekishi (History of Japanese Currencies) Tokyo, Yoshikawa Kobunkan. (Takizawa p.242).
  12. ^ Numista 10 Mon - Hoei (Shichijo mint) KM# 57 Standard Catalog of World Coins by George S. Cuhaj (Krause Publications) Retrieved: 12 June 2017.
  13. ^ Bank of JapanMoney Museum Early Modern Times (2) First half of the 19th century Bunsei and Tenpō recoinages Retrieved: 11 June 2017.
  14. ^ PENG Xin-Wei, (1958) Zhongguo Huobi Shi (Monetary History of China), second ed., Shanghai, Shanghai Renmin Chubanshe, (Peng pp. 833–838).
  15. ^ LEE Seok-Ryun (1984) Hanguk Hwapye Geumyungsa Yeongu (Study of Monetary and Financial History of Korea), Seoul, Pakyoungsa. (Lee p.123).
  16. ^ XIV International Economic History Congress, Helsinki 2006 Session 106 Too Commercialised To Synchronize Currencies: Monetary Peasant Economy in Late Imperial China in Comparison with Contemporary Japan by Akinobu Kuroda (University of Tokyo) Retrieved: 11 June 2017
  17. ^ Japanese Coinage, 2nd Ed., by Jacobs & Vermeule
  18. ^ "Ryuukyuuan coins". Luke Roberts at the Department of History - University of California at Santa Barbara. 24 October 2003. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  19. ^ "Ryūkyū Tsūhō" (in Japanese) Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia, 沖縄コンパクト事典, Ryūkyū Shimpō, 1 March 2003. Access date = 8 June 2017.
  20. ^ Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 192.
  21. ^ "Cracker Jack Prize – Japanese Version". Nihiru (Japanese Cash Coins © 1995–2016 – Pre-Meiji Japanese Cash Coins Cast Coinage). 1 August 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  22. ^ "Arte-Factual: 100 Mon Coin (Tomb Raider 2013)". Kelly M. (The Archeology of Tomb Raider). 13 March 2014.
  23. ^ IGN 100 Mon Coin (Tomb Raider 2013) Imagine Games Network (Ziff Davis, LLCj2 Global, Inc.) Retrieved: 11 June 2017.
  24. ^ The Japanese Numismatic Dealers Association - 2004 catalog
  25. ^ The Standard Catalog of World Coins (19th Century 3rd edition) – Krause & Mishler. (Catalog Nos. C#7.1 & C#7.2)

External links[edit]