Kikokusenkin (貴穀賤金)

Kikokusenkin refers to one of the economic thoughts during the Edo period, which respected rice and abhorred money. It is considered to have developed from agricultural fundamentalism.

The word 'kikokusenkin' was created by Ichio OKUBO and written on the 'Supplementary theory on Prices' by Nobuhiro SATO, which means that it was not Sato's word coinage.
SATO used the phrase 'negative effect of kikinsenkoku' (the thought which respected money and abhorred rice,) but did not use 'senkinkikoku.'
SATO was not the first one to propose senkinkikoku.

It was Banzan KUMAZAWA who proposed senkinkikoku first. In "Shugigaisho," KUMAZAWA wrote the following.

Abhorring money does not mean throwing money away, it just places the most importance on gokoku (five kinds of grain) and gold and silver are to help gokoku flourish on the ground, so that money is abhorred for gokoku to flourish,'
He proposed the theory of senkinkikoku though it was not a radical one.

During Kyoho era, Sorai OGYU and Shundai DAZAI proposed similar ideas.

During Tenmei era, in "Strategic theory for maritime defense," Shihei HAYASHI wrote the following and clearly argued about harmful results of senkinkikoku.
In this world, both the upper and lower abhor rice and respect money.'
It is dangerous to respect gold and silver and abhor rice like this because if three or four Provinces are in famine, Provinces with rice to spare can help them, but, if twenty or thirty Provinces are simultaneously in famine, there will not be enough rice to spare. In such a time, it is not possible for people to survive by drinking decocted gold and silver.'

You should understand that rice is the most important, and gold and silver are the second for surviving and try hard to store everyday food,'

HAYASHI wrote on famine but in fact he discussed it from a viewpoint of security and his theory was different from SATO's theory of kikokusenkin which aimed for leveling-off of prices. SATO wrote the following in "Supplementary theory on Prices" and argued about maintaining a high rice price.

When storing rice, it often decreases by being infested with rats or insects, or by being damaged, but when storing money, it often increases with interest, and thus, nengu (annual tribute, land tax) is paid more by money by exchanging rice with money, which, however, is the way of a man of stupid, not a man of virtue.'
As samurai and farmers do not store rice, artisans and merchants despise rice and respect gold and silver, but if samurai and farmers despise gold and silver and respect and store rice, then artisans and merchants would always hurriedly ask for rice, but the fact is that samurai despise rice and do not store rice, respecting only money, which forces them to fluctuate between hope and despair depending on the temper of rich merchants and artisans.'
Merchants and artisans are rich and samurai and farmers are poor, which causes all the people to despise the ground, so this negative effect will be overcome when artisans and merchants are always short of rice and respect samurai and farmers, then the price will be naturally leveled off.'

Shimei INOUE wrote the following in the section of kikoku in his "Twelve economics theories,"
Money is a treasure, but cannot be eaten, and gold and silver are wealth, but cannot be worn, and in this world, rice is the most important and gold, silver and money are the second most important.'
And he deplored that the theory of the use of rice by KUMAZAWA was not practiced really.

Sanyo RAI wrote the following in 'Tsugi.'


The theorists of abhorring money were not limited to the above scholars of the Chinese classics.
For example, Norinaga MOTOORI wrote the following in 'Secret book Tamakushige,'

You should always keep in mind the above details (the negative effect of money circulation) and deal in real things though it is a little inconvenient to deal in real things all the time, and avoid the transaction by gold and silver as much as possible, and stop to handle gold and silver as much as possible, and also, it is desirable that gold and silver would not limit what you have to do.'
He insisted on adding limitation on money transaction. MOTOORI advocated the transaction by real things and although it is difficult to call his idea the theory of kikoku (respecting rice), but it is the theory of senkin (abhorring money).

In general, Japanese scholars of the Chinese classics and the Confucianism during the Edo period vaguely understood that the monetary system and the feudal system were hardly compatible, though not contradictory, and that it was difficult for the money economy to return to the object economy.

[Original Japanese]