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1 yen

SeriesA1Yen Bank of Japan noet Series A 1Yen Bank of Japan note - back

The most recent issue

General information

Merchant flag of Japan (1870) Empire of Japan
Flag of Japan Japan



  • 190 mm (1873 issue)[1]
  • 135 mm (1885 issue)[2]
  • 145 mm (1889 issue)[2]
  • 122 mm (1943 issue)[2]
  • 124 mm (1946 issue)[2]
  • 80 mm (1873 issue)[1]
  • 78 mm (1885 issue)[2]
  • 85 mm (1889 issue)[2]
  • 70 mm (1943 issue)[2]
  • 68 mm (1946 issue)[2]
Security features

Watermark (1889–1946)

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The 1 yen banknote was first issued by the Empire of Japan in 1873. Since then, the note has been printed with new designs in 1885, 1889, 1943, and 1946. Many of these notes still remain in circulation, though they are not printed anymore.[3]


First issue[]

Early one yen note front Early one yen note back
Obverse Reverse

The first 1 yen note was issued by Imperial Japan in 1873. The note was blue-green and purple in color. On its obverse, it featured Tajidmamori and a warship, while its reverse displayed an unsuccessful Mongol invasion of Japan. It had dimensions of 80 millimeters in height by 190 millimeters in width. The note became obsolete on December 31, 1899, and remained legal tender up until August 20, 2009.[1]

1885 note[]

Old1Yen silver certificate Bank of Japnan note obverse Old1Yen silver certificate Bank of Japnan note reverse
Obverse Reverse

On September 8, 1885, a new 1 yen note, which is known as the "Daikoku bill" (Japanese: 大黒札), was issued, which promised to pay the bearer on demand an amount of silver equal to 1 yen. This note was predominantly colored purple on its obverse, but red on its reverse. It had a height of 78 millimeters and a width of 135 millimeters. Both sides of the banknote were designed by Italian engraver and designer, Edoardo Chiossone. The obverse, which gives the note its common name, features Daikoku-ten, while its reverse features the value. This is the oldest legal tender banknote of Japan, having been used for almost 130 years. Though it formerly was used in exchange for silver, it is now used as fiat money.[2][3]

1889 issue[]

Revised 1 Yen Bank of Japan Silver convertible - front Revised 1 Yen Bank of Japan Silver convertible - back
Obverse Reverse

On May 1, 1889, a new 1 yen banknote was issued by the Bank of Japan, which circulated alongside the first and second issues. Just like the last issue, the note promised exchange of an amount of silver equal to 1 yen on demand by the bearer. To make the note stronger, the paper used on the previous note was combined with konjac and for security, a black watermark was added. It was mainly orange in color. The dimensions of the note were larger than the previous one, being 85 millimeters in height by 145 millimeters in width. The obverse featured Takenouchi no Sukune while the reverse featured the value along with the promise of silver convertibility. Today these notes are circulated, but are not exchanged for silver, being regarded as fiat money.[2][3]

1943 issue[]

Series Yi 1 Yen Bank of Japan note - front Series Yi 1 Yen Bank of Japan note - back
Obverse Reverse

During December 15, 1943, during Japan's involvement in World War II, a new 1 yen banknote was issued. The main color used on the note was black on its obverse and orange on its reverse. It had dimensions of 70 millimeters in height by 122 millimeters in width. The note's obverse was very similar to the 1889 issue, displaying Takenouchi no Sukune, but in a different location. Its reverse displayed, for the first time, an illustration, which was of the Ube Shrine. Also for the first time, the 1 yen note of 1943 was not exchanged for silver, and still remains in circulation as fiat money.[2][3]

Series A[]

On March 19, 1946, after World War II, Japan issued its first banknotes of Series A, which included the new 1 yen note (pictured above). These notes were black in color on the obverse and light blue on the reverse. They had dimensions of 68 millimeters in height by 124 millimeters in width. Its obverse featured Ninomiya Sontoku while its reverse displayed the value. They were designed and printed by Dai Nippon Printing and Toppan Printing. These notes were suspended on October 1, 1958, but are still used as legal tender in Japan.[2][3][5]


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