Photo/IllutrationA jar containing a large number of bronze coins was found at an archaeological site in Hasuda, Saitama Prefecture. (Shoichi Tanaka)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KUMAGAYA, Saitama Prefecture--One of the biggest hauls of medieval coins ever discovered in Japan has been unearthed in Saitama Prefecture.

Tens of thousands of bronze coins were found in a buried ceramic jar believed to date back to the first half of the 15th century.

The jug apparently contains at least 100,000 coins and maybe up to 260,000, according to Saitama Cultural Deposits Research Corp., which found the artifact.

Researchers have so far only studied 70 of the coins, looped with string. They include 19 kinds of coins from China and elsewhere, such as the Eiraku Tsuho, Genpo Tsuho and Kaigen Tsuho.

“We intend to examine the coins in detail,” said a corporation official.

The unearthed Tokoname ceramic jar measures 60 centimeters in diameter and 74 cm in height. Tokoname, a city in Aichi Prefecture, is famously associated with ceramics.

The 66-cm-diameter stone lid was unearthed 2 meters below ground at the Arai Horinouchi archaeological site in Hasuda, Saitama Prefecture, last December.

A "mokkan" wooden tablet, less than 1 millimeter thick, was discovered at the edge of the lid, and “nihyaku rokuju” (260) had been written on it with an ink brush.

If the words “represent two hundred and sixty ‘kan’ (1,000 coins), the coins could total 260,000,” said an official.