The Japan Times, March 24, 1999
Coin found in Nagano confirmed as a Fuhonsen
NAGANO (Kyodo) A coin unearthed during the Meiji Era in an ancient mound in Takamori, Nagano Prefecture, is a Fuhonsen, archaeological authorities confirmed Tuesday.
Fuhonsen, believed to be Japan's oldest coins, were also discovered in January in Nara and Osaka prefectures.
The Nagano find marks the first Fuhonsen discovered outside the two prefectures, according to authorities at the Takamori Municipal Board of Education.
The announcement by the Nara National Research Institute of Cultural Properties in January rocked archaeological circles because Fuhonsen were minted before the Wado Kaichin, which current textbooks describe as Japan's first monetary unit, dating to the early eighth century.
The bronze Fuhonsen was discovered during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) near the stone tomb at the mound in Takamori.
The Takamori Municipal Museum of History and Anthropology, which has kept the coin since 1985, asked archaeologists to study the coin following the Nara institute's announced Fuhonsen discovery in January, officials said.
Koji Hirata, an archaeology professor at Sophia University, said the latest discovery may be related to the campaign that sought to expand the realm of Emperor Tenmu, who is said to have ordered Fuhonsen minted in the late seventh century.
Keiji Matsumura of the Nara institute said the Takamori area, where horses were bred, must be linked to the Imperial polity based in Nara, and the coins were brought there.
The experts said the kanji on the coin found in Takamori - "fu" (wealth) and "hon" (basis) - resemble those on coins unearthed last summer at the Asukaike ruins in the village of Asuka, Nara Prefecture.