What money do they use in The Master Puppeteer?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! You asked what money is used in The Master Puppeteer. It sounds like you are asking about the currency. There are a few instances in the book where money is mentioned. I quote them below:

The Shogun, unimpressed with the results of the daimyo's offered reward, personally places a price of one thousand ryo on the head of the bandit known as Saburo. (pp 44)

In one corner was a bit of folded cloth. Jiro undid it to find three silver coins. (pp 70)

Patersons' novel is set during the time of shoguns, samurais and daimyos. The powerful daimyos and shoguns ruled from the 10th century to the 19th century. The Master Puppeteer is set in 18th century Osaka. You see that the ryo and the silver coins are mentioned in the novel. In 1765, the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1868) introduced silver coins with a fixed weight. The exchange rate was one ryo of gold to sixty monme of silver. The ryo gold coin was also known as the koban. It may interest you to know that one ryo is equivalent to about one koku of rice. One koku is about five bushels; this is thought to be equivalent to the amount of rice that will feed one man for a year. Now, the samurai salary during the Edo era was based on a certain amount of rice.

So, you can see that the Shogun and government leaders kept a close eye on granary operations at the official rice storage houses. They also tried to prevent rice speculation by rice merchants; these rice merchants speculated for profit. What is rice speculation? This is buying low (at harvest time) and selling at much higher prices to make a profit later on. Rice speculation and famine were major reasons for starvation and the subsequent rebellion during these periods. Frustrated and hungry Japanese attacked the granaries, smashing their way through and looting the rice houses. In the novel, Saburo is a Robin Hood type hero who steals rice from the granaries for the poor.

Below, I list the links for the some of the history which will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the novel. Thanks for the question.