Friday, 13 June 2008

PostHeaderIcon Bad Japan: ¥1 coins

¥1 coins

Good projectiles

I was at the supermarket buying dinner this evening. As I walked around the aisles I was thinking of what my first entry should be in my Good/Bad Japan series. The decision was made for me just as I left the the checkout as I was given four ¥1 coins as my only change. I did something unprecedented and threw them in the nearest bin with my receipt. Thus triggering my desire to write my first bad thing about Japan... mainly because it would ease me into things and stop me from being too racist.

The yen symbol is not actually used in Japan and I believe it is a modern addition to make it fit in more easily with it's Western brothers of the $ and £. In Japan they use this: 円 and it is put onto the end of the number rather than the beginning. The main reason I am explaining this is because I don't have the western symbol on my keyboard and I can't seem to paste it in anymore. The coin shall now be referred to as 一円 or ichi en.

The 一円 coin is not worth very much. It is the equivalent of about 0.5 pence (or 1 cent for any American readers.) It is made of the inferior and lightweight aluminium so it does not even pretend to be a serious contender like the solid, copper penny. I don't like the feel of it in my hand because of this and numerous times they slide off the receipt and get lost in the breeze. I never feel like a confident consumer when I have these coins in my possession and can't actually imagine myself using them. I want to get rid of them as fast as I can and so more often than not I dump them in my change bowl. Now, it's easy enough to accumulate change in Japan so most of my spare yen gets thrown into this receptacle anyway. However, on my way out I will quickly pick a few worthy coins to be spent. The number one choice is the 500円 coin which is a hefty beast worth around £2.50 that stands out like a golden nugget in the bowl. These are a rare breed and more often than not I am left looking for some 100円 coins. The bowl is usually full of these but they are harder to spot as they disappear into the silvery mass. If times are rough then I can rummage around for a few 50円 and the occasional 10円 and 5円. The latter are usually quite plentiful but combined they are still outnumbered by their weak and redundant sibling. I currently have about 10 months worth of 一円 coins and they are starting to overflow and congest the bowl. I started to put them in some Buddha piggy banks that I found but they filled up in a matter of mere seconds. It is not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night with an overwhelming fear that I'm drowning in a sea of them.

The solution to this problem was set in motion this evening with my binning of them. I'm a bit nervous that I'm breaking the law and such an act is the equivalent of punching the emperor. The other option is to increase my participation in the art of 一円 throwing. If you are purchasing some goods with friends then you can surprise them by hurtling a few coins at their heads. Not only do you get rid of the coins but you can also revel in the ability to viciously throw objects at people whilst safe in the knowledge that no harm will come to them.


Heather said...

You used to throw away your 1p coins as well. You have some sort of illness.

Ahoy hoy said...

I've actually started to use some of the coins now. It's a weak relationship that I'll need to get used to.

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.