Eminent Figures Portrayed on Japanese Notes

Proper Noun Trivia

*This series explains the meanings of proper names, including names of places, companies, people, brands and others.

*On banknotes currently in use.

Name 福沢 諭吉
Romaji
Hiragana
FUKUZAWA Yukichi
ふくざわ ゆきち
Kanji meaning blessing / swamp / persuade/ good luck
Portrayed on the 10,000 yen note. Philosopher. Having visited the USA three times, he introduced western culture through his book “Seiyou Jijou” (Western Affairs). He established Keio University. (1835-1901)

 

Name 樋口 一葉
Romaji
Hiragana
HIGUCHI Ichiyou
ひぐち いちよう
Kanji meaning water pipe / mouth / one / leaf
Portrayed on the 5,000 yen note. Japan’s first prominent modern female writer. Her well-known works are “Nigorie” – about a prostitute down on her luck – and “Takekurabe” – the love story of a girl. (1872-1896)

 

Name 野口 英世
Romaji
Hiragana
NOGUCHI Hideyo
のぐち ひでよ
Kanji meaning field / mouth / excellent / world
Portrayed on the 1,000 yen note. Bacteriologist. He discovered the causative agent of syphilis. It is said he became infected with yellow fever while researching the disease himself and passed away in Africa. (1876-1928)

 

Name 紫 式部
Romaji
Hiragana
MURASAKI Shikibu
むらさき しきぶ
Kanji meaning purple / style (ceremony) / section
Portrayed on the 2,000 yen note. A lady in waiting at the imperial court. She is best known as the author of “The Tale of Genji,” which deals with the love affairs of a prince. (Thought to have lived between 978 and 1016)

[From Hiragana Times article]

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