About 230 counterfeit 10,000 yen bills were used in
transactions in shops near shrines and temples in Tokyo
and 11 other prefectures from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3.
Bank employees in Kyoto count the offerings at Fushimi
Inari Shrine over the first three days of the year.
The National Police Agency said Tuesday that the areas
were particularly crowded during this period with people
praying for good luck in 2005.
Police suspect that a single group is behind some of the
cases because the fake bills used in Osaka, Kyoto and
Hyogo prefectures had identical serial numbers. Those
found in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures also had the same
Japanese customarily visit shrines and temples at the
beginning of each year to pray for happiness. Many of
the bogus bills were spent in shops selling good-luck
amulets, fortunetelling papers, food and beverages at
shrines and temples.
All of the fake bills were apparently made using a color
copy machine, police said.
On Nov. 1, the government put in circulation new 10,000
yen, 5,000 yen and 1,000 yen notes with designs aimed at