Jon Reading wrote:
Some of the stuff I've read suggests omote and ura are determined by perspective. In general, viewing a coin represents the relationship of omote and ura; the side that is visible is omote and the side that is non-visible is ura. If you turned the coin, the perspective would change, but omote would still represent the visible side and ura would still represent the non-visible side.
Interesting. I can see your point in situations wherein there are no real "front" and "back" of an object -- say, a totally blank piece of paper.
However, there are many situations wherein one "side" is markedly the "front." If I had a piece of paper on which there was, say, a form to fill out on the front side, if I flipped it over, I wouldn't then call the "blank" side that I am seeing its "omote." If I were driving through Tokyo taking the "back" routes (eg alleyways), I wouldn't then call the road I was taking the "omotemichi" and the main thouroughfare the "uramichi." I daresay the same can be said about the front and back of a human body.
To relate this to your example with a coin, coins usually have a "designated" front and back; even in English, we often refer to the "heads" side or the "tails" side, regardless of "perspective." The Japanese Wikipedia page on currency
shows five coins (first picture on right) with a caption below stating in part, "All coins except for the 1 yen coin are photographed showing its omote." Here's another page
which distinctly differntiates the "omote" and "ura" of Japanese coins.
Just some thoughts stemming from the usage of the Japanese language as I've personally experienced it...