We recently took a look at some Star Wars-themed gogatsu ningyo, the decorative dolls families with young sons place in their homes on May 5. But what if you don’t have kids? Is there still a way to combine your love of Star Wars with some high-end Japanese traditional craftwork?
There sure is, in the form of traditional Japanese gold coins bearing the mark of the Imperial Military and the silhouette of its most famous commander, Darth Vader himself.
Founded in 1892, Ginza Tanaka is a jewelry maker with its flagship store in Tokyo’s swanky Ginza district. The company is best known for its work with precious metals, as evidenced by the way the top corner of its online order page lists the current market prices of gold and platinum by the gram.
In addition to accessories such as necklaces and rings, Ginza Tanaka also sells koban, the oblong golden coins that were used as currency during Japan’s feudal era. These days, you can’t plunk down a koban to pay for your can of Ebisu Beer and pack of melon bread at the convenience store, but art collectors and investors still purchase them for their beauty and value.
▼ A koban from Ginza Tanaka
But while the shape of koban is more or less standardized, different artisans will decorate the surface in their own unique ways. Samurai crests and calligraphy-style kanji characters are the most common choices, but starting May 4, Ginza Tanaka will also be selling pure-gold Star Wars koban.
Individual coins are available in weights of five, 10, or 30 grams (0.176, 0.353, or 1.058 ounces). Since you won’t want to just toss them into your hamster coin purse, each Star Wars koban also comes with an acrylic display case.
▼ The 30-gram coin
But while Lord Vader is a formidable fighter, what with his mastery of both swordplay and Force choke-manship, his real power stems from his authority over the men under his command. That’s why Ginza Tanaka is also offering alimited run of 54 Imperial Military Sets, consisting of a 30-gram Vader coin and a company of 10 five-gram stormtrooper koban.
▼ A close-up of the coins
Ordinarily, high-end science fiction memorabilia and gourmet seafood have very little in common. Like restaurant lobsters, though, these unique Star Wars collectibles sell for market price, as Ginza Tanaka updates their prices daily to reflect what gold is trading at. As of this writing, the five-gram Vader koban, the least expensive of the bunch, is selling for 65,052 yen (US$550). From there, prices climb to 130,104 yen for the 10-gram Vader coin, 390,312 yen for the 30-gram version, and finally 1,000,800 yen for the Imperial Military set.
▼ It’s that last 800 yen that’ll break your budget.
Ginza Tanaka says it will be selling the Star Wars koban until April 30 of 2016, though, so at least you’ve got a little bit of time to save up for them. Once you’ve got enough one-yen coins in your piggy bank, orders can be placed here.