Ginza (History) (銀座 (歴史))

Ginza is a name used for mints in the medieval and modern ages of Japan, where coins were manufactured and silver bullion was bought and sold.


Ginza originates from the establishment of Joizeza in Osaka by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. 20 silversmiths from Sakai and Kyoto were summoned to Osaka to work for standardization of coinage. Ginza was also formed by "ginya," money changers who were also silver craftsmen and minted hallmarked silver coins in various parts of the country, starting in the Sengoku Period. In Kaga domain, for example, the Kanazawa city ginza had a group of silversmiths, who minted silver coins hallmarked as domain currency in the early Edo Period. The presence of ginza in various parts of the country until the Edo Period was caused by the shortage of Keicho chogin coins in areas outside Edo, due silver being exported out of the country.

The most famous was the Edo shogunate ginza that was opened by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. That was an organization of commoners who were granted license from the Tokugawa family. The name "gin (silver)" and "za (place)" is believed to originate from the fact that a mint chiefly issuing silver coins was located there and also that minting such coins in other areas was strictly controlled.

The ginza consisted of the jouze-yakusho, the office in charge of printing hallmarks of authenticity and wrapping minted coins, and ginza-yakusho where the officers of the ginza assembled. The jouze-yakusho post was hereditary, with Sakuemon DAIKOKU, the eldest son of Sakuemon YUASA, assuming the post in Kyoto and Saemon DAIKOKU, the second son of the same, in charge of silver mint inspection as gin-aratameyaku.

With a pledge to establish a free currency minting bureau in the amended tariff treaty that the Edo shogunate concluded with Britain, France, the United States and Holland in 1866, the ginza and the kinza were closed with the Meiji Restoration on April 17, 1868. On April 21, the currency office established under Dajokan (Grand Council of State) minted 2-bu gold coins and 1-bu silver coins at the former kinza and ginza but it closed on February 5, 1869.


After his triumph in the Battle of Sekigahara, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA set up a mint near Fushimi Castle in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, in 1601. There, he ordered the Sakai money changer Sakubei YUASA to supervise the operation, which was headed Yoshikata SUEYOSHI (Kanbei Yoshikata HIRANO (SUEYOSHI) and his son Yoshiyasu (Saemon Yoshiyasu SUEYOSHI). They were a powerful merchant clan of Hirano-go, Sumiyoshi-gun, Settsu Province (present-day Hirano-ku, Osaka City), along with the Tojiro HIRANO and Kuemon HIRANO of the same clan.

As the officer in charge of stamping hallmarks, Sakubei YUASA was granted the new family name DAIKOKUJOUZE from the Tokugawa family. From then on he stamped the name "Jouze" on newly minted coins as a hallmark and wrapped them with official seals. For this reason, the wrapping used for silver coins issued at the Ginza was called Jouze-zutsumi.

The location of the ginza moved with the transition of power of the Tokugawa shogunate, with ginza created in Sunpu, followed by Fushimi-ginza in Kyoto Ryogae-cho in 1608 and Suruga-ginza in Edo Shinryogae-cho in 1612. This marked the full transition of minting function to Edo.


Sunpu-ginza was established in 1606 alongside the Sunpu-jyo Castle, where Ieyasu TOKUGAWA lived after his retirement, and the ginza was manned in alternate shifts by zajin officers and jouze inspectors from Kyoto-ginza since 1611. It has been manned in alternate shifts by zajin officers and jouze inspectors from Kyoto-ginza since 1611. The objective is believed to be the minting of silver ingots and chogin silver that had been stored in Sunpu Castle. The functions of Sunpu-ginza moved to Edo in 1612, but the name remains in the location as Ryogae-cho, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka City.


Kyoto-ginza was created with the move from Fushimi-ginza in 1608 to the location between Muromachi-dori Street and Karasuma-dori Street and across 4 town blocks south of Nijo-dori Street, Oshikoji-dori Street, Oike-dori Street and Aneyakoji-dori Street, which came to be known as Ryogaecho-dori. The name Ryogae-cho found in various ginzas is due to the fact that cupellated silver from various silver mines in the country was purchased by each ginza with the officially minted chogin silver, and this trade was named Nangyo-gin silver exchange. In Kyoto-ginza, the Jouze estate is located at the northeastern corner of Ryogaecho-oike, with the ginza office adjoining it to the north. This arrangement was adopted by Edo-ginza.

Before the ginza was set up, the area had a high concentration of cloth-dyeing shops, which moved to replacement land granted near Nishinotoin-dori and Takoyakushi-dori streets.

Located in the Osaka area where coinage was used heavily, it became the center of Chogin silver minting and continued to operate alongside other ginzas in Sunpu and later in Edo, until the ginza reform in 1800.


The ginza located in Ryogaecho, Koraibashi-higashi 1-chome, Osaka, was established in 1608 (or 1606, according to another report) for the purpose of gathering cupellated silver from Ikuno and Iwami silver mines and silver extracted from silver ore at the Osaka Dobukijo refinery and sending them to the ginza in Kyoto.
Located in the center of commerce where silver coins were used, the ginza served as an outlet for Kyoto-ginza


See the history of Ginza. Sunpu-ginza was moved Edo in 1612, to occupy the 4 town blocks south of Torimachi Kyobashi (Chuo-ku Tokyo), which was then called Shin-ryogae-cho, because there already was Hon-ryogae-cho where Edo-kinza was located. The ginza was run by officials from the ginza in Kyoto, alternating shifts once every year. The location is what is now Ginza 2-chome and became synonymous with major shopping districts.

Before Meiwa Period, the ginza minted coins was based on weight, such as Chogin silver and mameitagin silver. However, currency based on value stamped on the coin became mainstream with the issue of Gomommegin in September 1765, followed by others such as the Nangyo nishu-gin of September 1772.

The ginza later became responsible for minting the Kan'ei Tsuho shinchu-yonmon (currency unit) coin from 1768, marking the start of yonmon coin minting under the supervision of the ginza until the Bunkyu and Eiho periods

With the exposure of illegalities at Edo-ginza in June 1800, the silver coin inspection officer Chozaemon VIII Tsunefusa of the DAIKOKU family was dismissed and placed under house arrest for life. Subsequently, he replaced by Sakuemon IX Tsuneaki of the same family summoned to Edo from Kyoto-ginza and henceforth serving as inspection officer for both ginzas in Kyoto and Edo. After reorganization of the ginza, the number of officers was reduced to 15, and the mint was ordered to be moved to Nihonbashi-kakigaara-cho (present-day Nihonbashi Ningyocho) for resumption of Nanryo nishuban coins. The move was completed in July 1801. Since then, minting was consolidated at Edo-ginza, with the ginzas in Kyoto and Osaka in charge of recovering and exchanging old currency for new issues. They were also in charge of purchasing silver bullion and wrapping and sealing silver coins.


Nagasaki-ginza reportedly established in 1614 (exact date unknown) in Susukihara in Nagasaki City and later in Omuracho, Shimabaracho and Kitairikomi operated chiefly to prevent illegal export of silver and prevent outflow of quality cupellated silver and was staffed by a silver inspector or ginza assistant manager dispatched alternately for one-year assignments.

Although cupellated silver coming from silver mines was purchased by the ginza as a rule for minting into Chogin silver, many sought to make profits by shipping the ore directly to Nagasaki rather than selling it to the ginza. For this reason, the shogunate banned cupellated silver export in 1609, enforced trade in Keicho silver and strengthened surveillance. However, foreign traders found the Keicho silver, containing 20% lead and lower in quality, extremely troublesome because it required refining into quality silver. This lead to the creation and export of forged Daikoku coins with fake Keiko stamp impressions made from good cupellated silver. Substantial amounts of cupellated silver were illegally smuggled out in secret and flowed out of the country.

The ginza was abolished with the ginza reform of 1801.

Chogin silver minting method

Cupellated silver minting was divided largely into two types. One was Kaihaifukigin, private operation based on purchase of cupellated silver from silver mines located in private properties and of silver available in the marketplace to forge Chogin silver for income from part of the revenues. The other was the official minting with shogunate-property cupellated silver from shogunate-owned silver mines in Iwami, Ikuno and Sado Kinzan for minting Chogin silver. 3% of the mint volume was granted to the ginza as its share (buichi-gin) and the rest shipped to the shogunate. The official minting method was adopted for the reminting of recovered older silver coins at currency changes that took place in the Genroku Period and thereafter.


Silver used for minting consisted of cupellated silver from the shogunate reserves, recovered old coins and cupellated silver purchased by the ginza. The term "mase," which comes from the word maseba, means cupellated silver. Cupellated silver was reassessed of its silver content at the maseba and its quality determined by the silver inspector. Those determined to have 95% silver content or higher (gobu-ire) were used without refining. Others were refined again and reclassified as top-quality ichiwari-ire, mixing the silver with lead in the statutory proportion, weighed, stored in boxes, sealed and handed from the silver inspector (ginmiyaku) to the jouze-tedai (assistant manager).

Fukisho (mint)

Minting was done at the jouze-fukisho
Coins were minted in batches of 12 kan (approx. 45 kg), with the ore placed in a tomebashi (skull crucible) for melting and next collected by the yuiriyaku in a steel ladle for pouring into Chogin or mameitagin molds containing hot water. Coins were screened by quality in shape, with coins that passed inspection counted and weighed and later sent to the jouze-gokuinyaku.

The coins were stamped with the jouze-gokuinyaku hallmark, annealed, immersed in plum vinegar, and any lead on the surface was dissolved to refine the silver color. Chogin silver coins were packed in units of 200 and mameitagin coins in 500 mon and were sealed by the zanin officers for shipping to the ginza.


In order to confirm the silver quality of the minted Chogin coins, lead was added for reminting, with jouze-tedai (assistant manager) standing as witness, with the cupellation method to alter silver content. This was called the tadashi-fuki.

The error margin in silver content for 100 mon of Chogin coins was 0.3 mon for Keicho gin and Kyoho chogin, 0.8 for Genroku chogin, 1.11 for Eiho chogin, 1.33 for Eiji gin, 1.51 for Mitsuhou gin, 1.7 for Yotsuhou gin and 1.5 for Genbun chogin. With the ginza reform of 1800, control by the kanjo-bugyo was strengthened, placing coin minting an operation directly done by the shogunate and making tadashifuki no longer necessary from the Bunsei chogin.


Chogin coins were finished by immersing in heated plum vinegar and next polished and washed with water. The finished Chogin and mameitagin coins were packaged in quantities of 500 mon and sealed by the jouze.

[Original Japanese]