coin japan nederland · 2009 · Coin for 400 years of trade relations Japan and the Netherlands · silver 0,29 x 0,29 cm · gold 0,22 x 0,22 cm · Designed by Esther & Richard
2009 marks 400 years of official trade relations between the Netherlands and Japan. In 1609 the Dutch received permission to establish a permanent trading post and for the next two centuries the Netherlands was the sole Western country that was allowed to trade with Japan. For Japan this made the Netherlands ‘the window to the West’. The Dutch ministry of finance and Japan issue the coin together.
The text on the coin is in Japanese as well as in Dutch. Each text is placed on its own ‘festive ribbon’, ensuring an equal position on the coin. 
As a counterpart to the Dutch portrait-side there is an abstract version of an old Japanese coin on the value-side: the coin with the hole in the middle and the circular typography.
The existing portrait of Queen Beatrix as designed by Bruno Ninaber is the portrait known by all Dutch, and possibly also internationally, because his design nowadays is ‘Dutch design’ and typically Dutch. Something that good doesn’t need to be redesigned.
Both sides of the coin contain a multitude of graphic elements, but despite the challenging play of graphics, the coin exudes a spacious feeling. An aesthetic detail, characteristic to Japanese design. You could also see a similarity between the cropped images on the coins and Japanese compositions, where an item in the foreground (e.g. a tree or a gate) continues outside of the image.
In order to refer to the cultural exchange besides the economical one, Niessen & de Vries decided on an gradient typical for Japanese prints. This brings unity to the coin as well as a spatial effect that creates movement when looking at the coin.
The first thing that strikes you about this coin is probably that other coins are depicted on it. They look like a cutout from a larger whole, thus symbolizing a larger entity: the trade itself. The asymmetrical cutout is striking because it is unusual and dynamic. It enticingly suggests that all the information (such as he value of 5 euro, or 10 euro for the golden coin) is available ‘by chance’.
The festive ribbons connect the front and back of the coin and form a square knot, which was commonly used in shipping. This symbolizes the mutual commitment of both countries.
The grid of stripes and dots used in the background and in the ribbons refers to the Dutch and Japanese flags.