JapanWill THIS Be Japan’s New 500-Yen Bill?!

7246 min

A common issue that travelers to Japan face is that they end up with a massive pile of coins. Japanese coins range from ¥1 (slightly less than $0.01) to ¥500 (~$4.68), so unless you make a conscious, daily effort to give cashiers, vending machines, etc. change that is as exact as possible, you’d soon have dozens of coins in your wallet, and then maybe even need another container… What if Japan had a ¥500 bill as an alternative to the ¥500 “gold coin” it currently has? What if it had an ¥800 bill, so that when you  buy something for ¥110 at the Daiso ¥100 yen shop, you’d get back a bill instead of four coins?

Well, too bad! Sorry.

The Japanese government currently appears to have no plans to make a ¥500 or ¥800 bill (there are plans to introduce some new bill designs in 2024, however). That didn’t stop the artist Ponkichi (ぽん吉) from trying her hand at making some cute ¥500 and ¥800 bills with…shiba dogs, otherwise known as shiba inu (柴犬). The shiba is the iconic dog of Japan (though the Akita inu comes close in popularity, as well).

↑An Akita Inu

↓A Shiba Inu

She published her art on Twitter:

Translation: “Some were saying it would be good if there were shiba dog paper money, so, to continue this shiba dog bill idea, I drew a new banknote with little tiny, bean-sized shiba dogs.
This is a ¥500 bill, therefore, five little tiny bean-sized shiba dogs. What’s more, I drew and put into the design three red-bearded ones endemic to Japan, a lily-of-the-valley-colored one, and a Hakone Utsugi one. In your everyday shopping, your heart can be healed if you have this bill, that bulges a little bit, right?”

Japanese money doesn’t have as many politicians or monarchs on it as many other countries’ money. The Japanese tend to make their money with famous people who have contributed to the cultural, economic, or scientific fields. Sometimes, similar to these shiba dogs, there are various life forms on the money, for example bamboo or a flower. Ponkichi has also made her shiba dog paper money artwork available with a pink cherry blossoms theme, because it’ll soon be the sakura (桜, cherry blossoms) season in Japan. You might not be able to enjoy a flower-viewing party with your friends and family due to the COVID-19 scare, but at least you can enjoy some products emblazoned with these adorable banknotes.

Some of her shiba dog designs show a parent with its puppy. There’s Mt. Fuji in the background. A watermark depicts another puppy (note that it’s not a real watermark, but simply printed very lightly so as to look like a watermark, but with no special effect if held up to the light). Some of her art has muted colors, while other versions are more bright pink for the sakura season. One of her ¥500 designs is all puppies.

Her artwork is available from FurBaby Space Factory, which is an online store. Some items that are available with her ¥500 and ¥800 bill designs include:

  • A coin purse
  • A keychain
  • A train pass case
  • A wallet made from pleather
  • A zippered wallet (¥3,465)

Some of these items are going to be offered by JP Post. The prices for her merchandise, both through FurbBaby Space Store and JP Post, are between ¥814-3,476 depending on the item.