For nearly 40 years, people in Japan have been happy when they see Yukichi Fukuzawa’s face. Not necessarily because of any personal affection for the esteemed educator, linguist, and entrepreneur, but because since 1984, Fukuzawa has appeared on the 10,000-yen bill, the highest-value piece of paper currency in Japan.
Fukuzawa’s stint as the poster/bill boy for monetary gains is going to be coming to a close, though. As of this month the Japanese government has stopped printing new Fukuzawa bills. That fate is also shared by the other current “Series E” banknotes, the 5,000-yen bill with author Ichiyo Higuchi and 1,000-yen bill with scientist Hideyo Noguchi.
The Series E bills (photo at top) went into circulation in 2004, which is also when Noguchi and Higuchi made their on-yen debuts.
The current group’s departure makes way for their replacements on the upcoming Series F bills: economist Eiichi Shibusawa (10,000-yen bill), educator Umeko Tsuda (5,000 yen), and scientist Shibasaburo Kitazato (1,000 yen).
▼ Preview images of the new bills include red “sample” (見本) markings
The backs of the bills will be changing too. Currently, they feature the phoenix from the roof of Kyoto’s Byodoin Temple, irises, and Mt Fuji with sakura cherry blossoms.
The new bills will instead bear illustrations of Tokyo Station circa 1914, wisteria, and a reproduction of ukiyo-e woodblock artist Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa.
▼ Mt. Fuji is still visible in the horizon in Great Wave off Kanagawa, thus keeping its streak of appearing on yen notes, which began all the way back in 1950, going.
Of course, just because Japan has stopped printing the current-design bills doesn’t mean they’re no longer legal tender, and so we’ll be seeing them for some time to come. They are going to get rarer as time goes by, though, so you might want to set an example of each aside if you’re a collector or history buff. The new notes, meanwhile, are scheduled to begin circulation in the first half of 2024.
Series E photos ©SoraNews24
Series F images: Ministry of Finance
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