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Bank of Japan Currency Museum

Either ironically or fittingly, the Bank of Japan Currency Museum is the perfect place to go when you are low on money but have plenty of time.

By 2 min read

Either ironically or fittingly, the Bank of Japan Currency Museum is the perfect place to go when you are low on money but have plenty of time. The museum has enough to hold your attention for an hour or two, but admission is completely free.

You can find the museum tucked away in the financial district near Nihonbashi Station, next to the main Bank of Japan building. When you go inside, you are greeted by a guard who asks you to fill out a paper stating your city or country of origin, are passed some pamphlets in the language of your choice and then are free to go upstairs to the museum itself.

At the top of the red-carpeted stairs, you are first greeted by a fancy stamp machine. Instead of stamping the paper by hand, you push a button, which then imprints the mascot of the museum (a coin, of course) onto your pamphlet.

Next is the souvenir and photo-taking area. In this lobby, you can buy money-themed souvenirs from vending machines, take a photo with a giant stone coin and try lifting 1 million yen in 10 thousand yen bills.

Once you leave the first lobby, you’ll see an introductory video and then go inside the main museum. The museum starts with the ancient history of Japanese currency, progresses to the introduction of coins to 8th century Japan, goes all the way up to present day Japanese currency history and then ends with an introduction to currency from around the world. Most of the explanations are in Japanese, but plenty of English descriptions are available as well.


Naturally, most of the exhibits contain coins and paper money. The museum holds Chinese coins imported into Japan from the 12th century, the characteristically large and ovular oban coins, and the various paper moneys issued by local lords. In addition to currencies, the museum also has old wallets and coin-carrying cases hidden inside sword hilts.

A few hands-on exhibits line the far wall of the museum. These exhibits allow you to expose modern Japanese bills to black light and light at various angles to reveal marks meant to prevent counterfeiting.

The last few exhibits are about currency from around the world. A rotating shelf at the back wall will display different countries currencies at the push of a button. Although most coins and bills are the same basic shape, the variety in sizes and colors is dizzying.

Leaving all that money behind might be hard, but when you do leave, at least your wallet won’t be any lighter; that is, if you were able to resist buying a chocolate gold bar from the vending machine.

The Bank of Japan Currency Museum
Hours: 9:30-16:30 (last admission at 16:00)
Open: Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays, Jan. 1-4, Dec. 29-31, and national holidays, except Saturdays and Sundays)
Admission: Free
Address: Bank of Japan Annex Building, Nihonbashi-Hongokucho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0021 Japan
Phone: 03-3277-3037
URL: www.imes.boj.or.jp/cm/

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