I’m sure I’m not the first to admit that life would be so much easier if money grew on trees, or even if earning more money were as simple as just printing it off your computer. But alas, the world does work that way, and anyone caught trying to spend counterfeit money is bound to end up in hot water, as these two Japanese suspects are sure to tell you.
The Showa period (1926-1989) was a time of immense change for Japan when the country went from being an imperial power to a poverty-stricken post-war nation and then becoming an economic powerhouse that dominated automotive and electronic industries around the world. Twenty-seven years since that era ended and the current Heisei era began, fond memories of “Showa Japan” still flood many Japanese minds.
But a recent online poll asked netizens to take off their rose-tinted glasses and consider the aspects of daily Showa-period life that, while seeming completely normal back then, would be unthinkable now. Join us after the jump for a look at the slightly grim feedback.
How did you first learn about the value of money as a child? Did you save up your allowance in a piggy bank until there was enough to buy a cool new toy? Or how about taking care of the neighbor’s cat for a small reward?
Or maybe you were never actually taught how to spend your cash wisely, and to this day keep a tall stack of credit card bills around in case you need to blow your nose.
Speaking of money going down the drain, that’s pretty much what one Japanese 7-year-old was found guilty of the other day. He was given a 1,000-yen note, worth roughly US$9.80, and told to “use it however you want.” While most other kids would have jumped for joy and rushed to the nearest toy store, this kid had a much more…creative idea.
The other day, a Kyoto branch of popular gyūdon (beef bowl) fast-food chain Sukiya ran into some trouble. We’ll let you know upfront that the shop was not invaded by a clan of ninja, nor by a stampede of ravenous gaijin. And no, it had absolutely nothing to do with a Godzilla attack.
No, dear readers, the truth was something far more ominous.
A fun way to get a perspective on another country’s history and culture is by looking at the currency used. The materials and design that go into making them can say a lot about what a country holds dear.
So, why don’t we take a quick look through the modern coins used in Japan and learn a little about why they look the way they do and some other tidbits along the way such as what happens when you microwave a one-yen coin and why you shouldn’t do it.
On 4 November Osaka Prefectural Police announced the arrest of two teenagers aged 15 and 16 for fraud. The two boys are accused of trying to pass off a fake one million yen (US$10,000) bank note at a small cigarette stand in Suita City.
Although, passing off counterfeit money is usually considered “uttering” and may be punishable by jail time, the pair were given a reduced charge of fraud because, according to police, “the fake money used was really bad.”
A major flaw of Japanese currency is the 10,000 yen bill ceiling of banknotes.
For daily life, having a system of bills which max out at around 100 bucks US is not a problem. But for those special times when you want to buy something high-end like a computer or melons, your wallet suddenly swells to the size of a baseball. In country that largely shuns checks or debit cards, cash is still king – a thick, hard to fit in your back pocket king.
Rumors are swirling about financial reforms in the works by Shinzo Abe’s recently elected Liberal Democratic Party involving, among other things, the issuing of 50,000 yen bills. Yes, it looks like – for once – a politician is looking out for the needs of people with too much money.
Japanese paper currency is printed with the faces of various prominent figures. However, rather than past or present leaders, like many countries do, the yen banknotes are decorated with writers and a scientist.
For example, the 10,000 yen (US$124) bill has the likeness of Fukuzawa Yukichi, a highly influential writer during Japan’s transition from the feudal system to modern government. He is also known to have never smiled in a photograph, which is why when one man attempted to spend a 1,000,000 yen (US$12,400) bill with a picture of a grinning Yukichi, the clerk’s suspicion was aroused.