The Great East Japan earthquake happened on March 11, 2011. The epicenter was located in the Pacific Ocean over 40 miles east of the Tōhoku region on Honshu, the largest island in the Japanese archipelago. Besides being the most powerful earthquake ever to strike Japan, it produced a 133-foot tsunami that also contributed to the destruction. The earthquake and tsunami were responsible for the meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, a catastrophe rivaled by only the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine in 1986.
To commemorate efforts to rebuild the stricken area, the Japan Mint has minted a series of reconstruction project commemorative gold and silver coins. The origami crane .999 fine gold coin is the third entry in the series.
The obverse depicts an origami crane floating above a representation of the Tōhoku region of Honshu. A rainbow-like bridge extends beyond the crane to the edge of the coin and connects the paper bird to a tree that appears to be the source of the rainbow. The tree sits on a patch of land that occupies the lower right quadrant of the obverse, and a rising sun–implied by the negative space created by rays of light emanating from all around it–rests behind the tree. Small raised dots encircle the design and the inscriptions for “Japan” and “10000 Yen” (rendered in Chinese characters) are also present.
Cranes are one of the most popular of origami designs. They specifically represent the Japanese, or red-crowned, crane (Grus japonensis)–a powerful symbol of longevity, strength and loyalty. Origami cranes became better known in the West thanks to the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which concerns a 12-year-old girl named Sadako Sasaki who developed leukemia as a result of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in World War II. The legend of the thousand paper cranes says that whoever folds a thousand paper cranes receives a wish. Origami cranes therefore carry many symbolic overtones having to do with peace, hope and resilience.
The tree featured on the coin is also significant. Referred to as the “Miracle Pine“, the effigy represents the solitary survivor of an approximately mile-long stretch of pine trees in Iwate prefecture long appreciated for its natural beauty. Iwate was hit hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the scenic pine trees were obliterated. Only the “Miracle Pine” remained.
The common reverse for all four current series of the commemorative program features a tableau of doves flying in front of the Miracle Pine mentioned above.
A ring with Japanese inscriptions encircles the central design, and a circle of small raised dots–similar to that found on the obverse–is also on the reverse. The inscriptions state that the coin was minted in the 27th year of the reign of Emperor Akihito, who assumed the throne upon the death of Emperor Shōwa–better known as Hirohito in the United States–in 1989. Hirohito was emperor of Japan during World War II.
Designer(s): The Japan Mint, along with the Ministry of Finance, held a public design competition for the second, third and fourth series of the Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction commemorative coin program. Teruo Yausda of Tokyo created the winning design for the third series gold coin obverse. Adjustments to the original design were made by the Japan Mint as necessary for coining.
|Year Of Issue:||2015|
|Alloy:||.999 Fine Gold|
|OBV Designer||Teruo Yausda|
Keep up with all the latest coin releases from the world mints by clicking on CoinWeek’s World Coin Profiles Page.