Monster money!

Google Translate says that the caption on this image is Japanese for "Bill of surprised frontispiece monster world." I can't really hazard any guesses beyond that, but hey, monster money!

『びっくり口絵 怪物世界のお札』 (via Crazy Abalone)


  1. I have no idea what a ‘frontispiece’ is, but a better translation would be:
    Amazing Artwork  びっくり口絵
    World of Monster’s 怪物世界の
    Paper Money お札

    1. “Frontispiece” is actually a very good literal translation (even if most people don’t understand it). Not 100% accurate in all cases but still good. Frontispiece and 口絵 are both technical terms with very specific meanings.

    2. I wonder if they’re Hell Bank Notes, a form of joss paper to be burnt for the spirit to use in the after-life. I’ve collected some very lovely and funky Hell Bank Notes over the years, and the monster theme seems a plausible and innovative design direction. Marilyn Monroe and Einstein have appeared on bills, and so has the Jade Emperor. There’s certainly room for Lon Cheney’s werewolf.

      Hell Bank Notes are sometimes called “Ghost money” too, but I suspect that coinage refers to the spirit who’ll be rolling in that sweet, sweet filthy lucre while marking time in purgatory. Purgatory, of course, is a Western concept that inadequately and inaccurately conveys the nature of the first phase of the after-life. 

      While China was plagued by frothy-mouthed missionaries preaching and converting like they were on an E-ticket ride, many traditional beliefs were lazily equated with Christian beliefs. That colonial arrogance is the reason we still see the word Hell on joss money. 
      Joss money and its history includes all sorts of fascinating stories. When China was suffering from hyper-inflation in the 40s, Hell Bank Notes were printed in increasingly larger denominations to keep up with real world currency.  What I wouldn’t give for a 1,000,000,000 yuan Einstein Hell note.

      The notes featured above are certainly some of the most beautiful examples I’ve seen.

      1. I was thinking of Hell bank notes too, I have a few of these, but nowhere near as elaborate as those above.

        That reminded me that I also had some ‘Murdoch’s Millions’ notes at one point- these were made by striking print workers, and featured unflattering caricatures of Rupert Murdoch. 

      2.  These are parodies, not Hell Bank Notes. HBNs are a staple of funereal offerings in Chinese culture, and are usually (as you noted) denominated with a LOT of zeros. I love that you found Marilyn and Einstein on HBNs! Scan them and put them online if you can…

        I live in Hong Kong and the local supermarkets sell HBNs and other funerary items. Specialty shops sell all manner of paper goods to be set alight: recently, paper replicas of iPads and mobile phones are popular.

        The Japanese banknotes mutated here are old ones: smallest denomination nowadays is 1,000 yen. These are fun mashups from someone appreciating old Japanese banknotes, not HBNs…but both are fun!


  2. A better translation would be “Surprise frontpage! Notes of the monster world!”

    Apart from that, you’re on your own, I’m afraid…

  3. “The most discriminating monster can rest, with the security and peace of mind that comes from knowing their Monster Cash (available in 100, 500, 1,000, and 10,000 yen notes) is safe in our hands.”

    – Bank Of America

  4. All the time, our customers ask us, “How do you make money serving only monsters?” The answer is simple. Volume. That’s what we do.

  5. Creepy currency!  Dire dough!  Ghoulish gravy!  Spooky specie!
    and my favorite,
    Eerie Euros.

    1. Beastly bills!  Fiendish funds!  Gruesome greenbacks!  Ghastly gold!  Terrifying treasure!  Loathsome loot!

      I have to admit, Eerie Euros is pretty good.

  6. Chorus: He had the cash!
    Boris:He had the monster cash,
    Chorus: the monster cash
    Boris:made him a graveyard smash
    Chorus: the monster cash
    Boris: it was gone in a flash
    Chorus: the monster cash
    Boris: he had the monster cash

  7. There is nothing strange about using Hell to describe the afterlife. The original meaning came from ‘Hel’ the Norse goddess of a land of the dead. Similarly the original meaning of ‘Hades’ is the name of the Greek god of the land of the dead. Only later did Christianity embrace, extend and extinguish the original meanings.

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