Panda America is happy to announce the release of the fifth coin in Japan’s 47 coin Prefecture series: Niigata! The Niigata Prefecture coin features the magnificent Japanese Crested Ibis flying over Sadogashima Island. This is a sight that was almost lost forever near the end of the last century, as they became nearly extinct. The Japanese Crested Ibis was revered by the shoguns of feudal Japan, who forbade their capture or death by hunting. But when Japan modernized following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, reverence for the birds was forgotten and they were hunted both for their feathers and for food. Then, after World War II, Japan's massive program of self-sustaining agriculture led to the use of vast amounts of fertilizers and pesticides, and the pollutants took their toll on the weakened Ibis population. In 1952, the species was designated a Special Natural Monument, and in 1960 it was listed as an internationally protected species. Today, the Japanese Crested Ibis appears to be on the road to recovery, with the total population of wild and captive birds currently greater than 600. The program aims to reintroduce 60 ibises to Japan by 2015. There are currently 10 free-flying on Sado Island, five males and five females, all fitted with GPS tracking devices.
The 1000 Yen Niigata Prefecture 2009 coin is 1 oz. .999 fine silver, proof quality. The reverse design is the same for all of the coins in the Prefecture series: a crescent moon, cherry blossom flowers and snow crystals. The authorized mintage is 100,000, but only 10,000 are available outside of Japan. The coins have a diameter of 40 mm and feature helical ridges. These beautiful coins come directly from the Japan Mint and they are available from official distributor Panda America.