Photo/IllutrationA National Printing Bureau craftsman practices engraving on May 17. (Shiki Iwasawa)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

The National Printing Bureau showed off some of the artistry and technology that will go into freshly designed banknotes to be introduced in fiscal 2024.

The bureau, which is responsible for designing and printing Japanese bills, invited reporters on May 17 to visit sections of its factory in Tokyo's Kita Ward.

Craftspeople could be seen engraving metal plates using sharp-pointed chisels called "burin" while holding a magnifying glass. The engravings are so fine that they are barely visible to the naked eye.

The bureau will start the official process of designing 10,000 yen ($91), 5,000 yen and 1,000 yen bills shortly and will print them at the Tokyo facility.

The workers, who are graduates of art colleges and related institutions, will draw samples of portraits to be featured on the bills based on multiple images and use them to create original plates.

The bureau also showed anti-counterfeiting technology, such as a hologram that appears different when looked at from various angles. The technique is expected to be used for the new bills.

The bureau prints about 3 billion banknotes annually at its four factories in Japan. It also revealed part of the printing of bills and cutting processes for the current 10,000 yen note on sheets containing 20 bills, though taking pictures some areas was restricted for security reasons.