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Money with a Hole in it

Some thoughts about holey coins

A comment by Evan-san:

I was reading your page on Japanese coins and you said you don’t know what the holes in the coins are for, I think this is the answer. With a hole in the middle they could stack the coins on short metal rods so they could easily grab however many were needed when giving change. I heard that somewhere although a long time ago so it’s a little hazy, but it seems to make sense.


A comment by Uichee-san:

The Japanese adopted it from the Chinese (just as they adopted Kanji, Buddhism, etc.), who made
coins with square holes in the middle starting from the Qin dynasty (maybe 2nd century B.C.). For more information on this, see the following related websites:




But how did the Qin come up with the idea of making a square hole in the
middle of the coin, then? Hmm…many people believe Evan-san’s theory, but I
think there are several possibilities:

1. Evan-san’s theory
2. They may not have had very much bronze, so those who crafted this money
may have made a big hole in the middle of the coin to save up and make more
bronze items (including more coins)!
3. The half-tael was the original coin, on which many other East Asian coins
were based. Maybe the first half-tael was dented!
4. Could the Chinese have used them as rings for their fingers, though
today’s Japanese version isn’t as convenient for the purpose?
5. If you look at the half-tael on the first of the above-suggested pages,
you can see that on the left side of the hole there’s a sickle and on the
other, a trident. The hole might mean digging a hole into the ground.
Sickle, trident, hole–all of them together might symbolize hard work, as
does the communist symbol!

Because my grandfather worked with the Japanese army in Japanese-occupied
Burma for quite some time (though he’s not Japanese at all!), he had left us
two ju-en coins and another gouju-en coin. I thought maybe you’d be
interested to know. Even if you aren’t…oh well!

“tsumaranai iimeeru desu ga douzo!”

Enjoy & Happy Sharing!




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