The Launch of New Banknotes and Legacy Carried

Hello, this is Hiroko Samejima, a designer from Ethiopia. The rainy season is now in full swing here, transforming the once parched land into a beautiful expanse of greenery.

Today, on July 3rd, Japan has introduced new banknotes for the first time in 20 years. Some of you reading this may already have the shiny new bills in your hands.

The new banknotes feature Eiichi Shibusawa, who laid the foundation of Japanese capitalism; Umeko Tsuda, a pioneer in women's education in Japan; and Shibasaburo Kitasato, a pioneer in bacteriology. All of them brought about innovation and contributed to the creation of a fair and sustainable society.

For me, Eiichi Shibusawa holds a special place as he is my great-great-grandfather. I was raised hearing about his teachings from my grandmother since I was a child. His work, "The Analects and the Abacus," greatly influenced me when founding andu amet, making this moment even more poignant.

From the right on the top row are my grandmother, my two great-grandmothers, and myself holding a balloon. In the bottom row, are my sister and me.

My grandmother wrote extensively about Eiichi Shibusawa and was frequently interviewed on the subject.

My grandmother, who had taught me all these things, passed away last year at the age of 100. Due to the pandemic, she couldn't see anyone in person before she died, but a final message to the family was found by her bedside after her passing.

In it, she expressed her gratitude and shared a teaching passed down from Eiichi's mother to Eiichi: "It is not truly enjoyable if only one person is happy. Only in a world where everyone feels happiness can we find true joy." The message also expressed her concerns about the inequalities and conflicts caused by excessive capitalism. Her trembling handwriting, normally very neat, revealed the effort she put into conveying what she truly wanted to say during her painful final days.


Eiichi Shibusawa, Umeko Tsuda, and Shibasaburo Kitasato lived during the tumultuous period from the end of the Edo era to the Meiji era. We too are living in a time of great transformation due to the rapid development of AI and technology. Just like our predecessors, each of us has the mission and the power to create a better future, even if our approaches and influences may differ based on our backgrounds and positions. I intend to continue striving for a society where everyone can feel happiness.

The introduction of new banknotes seems to give us the courage and inspiration to build such a new era. 

Incidentally, Ethiopian banknotes were also renewed just four years ago. Aren't they colorful?