What can you buy with 1 Japanese yen? A pair of disposable chopsticks, a spoon of rice, 3 toothpicks, one teaspoon of Izu natural water, the dictionary explanation of 24 words, or the latest issue of Kohkoku magazine? Everything we mentioned costs only 1 Japanese yen.
The debut issue of Kohkoku magazine was published back in 1948. The magazine has recently undergone a revamp and launched their first rebranded issue on 24 July, selling at the price of 1 Japanese yen. What is the relationship between the actual value of things and their retail price? This is the question Kohkoku magazine wants to explore in their latest issue. When the readers buy the 680-page magazine using the smallest denomination of the Japanese yen currency, how would they interpret the value of it? Many of us live an abundant life, we own more than we need, our days are filled with information that we can barely finish reading. Through this issue, the magazine wants to discuss with the readers what makes something valuable.
As part of the initiative, the publisher also launched a “1 yen online shop” that sells the 1 yen objects that named earlier in the article. The online shop also shares fascinating stories related to these objects. For instance, back in the Edo period, each pair of disposable chopsticks was used for more than once. The brand new chopsticks were sold to high-end restaurants. The used chopsticks would then be cleaned and shaved to be resold to soba noodle restaurants. Afterward, the sellers would apply lacquer on these chopsticks that have been used twice and resell them to fast-food joints as reusable chopsticks. Reading these stories, we begin to learn the value of an object is never constant — it changes all the time according to people’s perception.