１．silver guild was there
Ginza was a reclaimed area in the Edo period. The Tokugawa shogunate’s officially-sanctioned silver guild (za) was there. The place of the gold guild was called “ryogae-cho (money-exchange town).” The Tokugawa government moved the silver guild in Sunpu( Shizuoka Prefecture) to Edo, establishing a new ryogae-cho, subdividing the area from one to four and named the place of the silver guild “new ryoage-cho” in 1612. Ginza was a common name. The silver guild was in the second district. Many money-exchange shops were on the fourth district. Ieyasu appointed one family called Yuasa to be silversmiths but on account of some failure they were dismissed and the silver guild was moved to Nihonbashi. Ginza became the official name in 1869. In this connection, copper coins were minted in the copper guilds in Asakusa , Shiba, Honjo and Fukagawa.
Business transactions were conducted with silver coins, defining the value usually by weighing the silver in the Osaka region, while gold was mainly used in the Edo region.
Therefore there was a saying “silver-user of Osaka, gold-user of Edo.”
One gold ryo ＝silver 60 monme(one monme is 3.75g) or 4000 sen mon were the official exchange rates, but actually the goods were exchanged according to daily market in Osaka and Edo.(Refer to the table of the exchange rate)
The amount of gold contained in a small one gold coin varied from time to time. Except the period of Shotoku and Kyoho (1711~1736) the amount of gold kept on decreasing. The Tokugawa government used the marginal profit to cope with financial trouble. Reminting coins during Genroku (1688~1704) was thought out to supply enough currency owing to economic growth then, resulting in further growth and nurturing Genroku culture. On the other hand, recoinage during Shotoku and Kyoho resulted in ashrinking economy and economic depression.
３．￥55,000 to 300,000
The Tokugawa government took up the policy of keeping the price of rice stable because an annual tribute was the basis of revenue for the government. One koku( 180.39litters) was about one ryo at that time. The value of one ryo in today’s currency varies according to what you take as a standard scale. If you take the price of rice as a scale, it is ￥55,000.
If you see the wages earned by a craftsman as a measure, it is about ￥300,000. Another scale is 4mon＝100円. In this case, it is ￥16,000. ( Refer to the chart of the prices in the Edo period)
４．it became inflationary
The Japan-US Friendship and Trade Treaty was concluded in 1858, which caused foreign trade to expand and commodity prices to go up. The main product for Japan was raw silk, the price of which soared to reach international prices and made the domestic prices of silk higher. Because of the difference between the domestic price of gold and silver and international price of those, much silver and gold drained out to foreign countries. The Tokugawa government tried to prevent it by minting Manen coins through decreasing the amount contained in gold coins by one third, resulting in making the economy worse and advancing the inflation.
● 古街道研究家 道の考古学者 歴史ルポライター
● 歴史古街道団長 歴史古道まちづくりプランナー 歴史計画コンサルタント
● １４講座レギュラー講師 日本フットパス協会理事 １９５９年東京出身