Ancient coin found at Hokkaido

A special coin was unearthed at the Shari village in Hokkaido, Japan. It dates back 1200 years and suggests contacts between the Okhotsk culture of northern Hokkaido and Japan’s main island of Honshu as early as the ninth century.

The coin found in Hokkaido (by Shari town board of education via Asahi Shimbun)
The coin found in Hokkaido (by Shari town board of education via Asahi Shimbun)

The discovery of the coin was made during excavations of an archaeological site on Cape Chashikotsu, or Casi-kot in Ainu in sediments dated to around 800s AD. It was struck by the imperial court during the Nara Period (710-784 AD). The coin is said to be called a “Jingukaiho” or “Jinkokaiho“, depending on how the four kanji characters stamped on its face are read. This imperial coin was discovered in the region located far north of Japan’s territory. Experts of Hokkaido University’s Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies believe that it may have been used as a prestige item to establish a high social status by showing an ability to exchange with people in distant locations. The site consists of remains of 31 houses that were found through excavations. They are located on a atop a giant rock with 50-meter-high cliffs that juts out into the ocean. The coin was found in the ruins of a dwelling next to fish bones and pottery shards.  Such kocho junisen coins have been unearthed in Hokkaido in the past, but this is the first one to be found at an Okhotsk culture site and also the northernmost discovery of such coinage in Japan.

(after Asahi Shimbun, Shari town board of education)

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