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1 yen
1yen showa64
Coin from 1989.
General information

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



Measurements and composition
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  • 38.5 mm (1870)[2]
  • 13.5 mm (1871–1892)[3]
  • 38.6 mm (1874–1912)[4]
  • 38.58 mm (1875–1877)[10]
  • 19.5 mm (1948–1950)[6]
  • 20 mm (1955–present)[1][7][8][9]
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The 1 yen coin was first issued by the Empire of Japan in 1870. Since then, new issues have been introduced in 1871, 1914, 1948, and 1955. Though production of the 1 yen coin ceased in 2009, it is still issued in Japan.[2][1]


First coin[]


The first 1 yen coin.

During 1870, the Empire of Japan issued the first 1 yen coin. It had a mass of 26.9568 grams and a diameter of 38.5 millimeters, having been the heaviest 1 yen coin ever issued. The coin was composed of .900 fine silver. On its obverse was a sun with branches, and on its reverse a Japanese dragon is displayed along with the year written in Japanese (年 三 治 明), the value (圓 一), and the words "本 日 大". These coins were only minted during 1870, but the design of the reverse was eventually reused by later silver 1 yen coins.[2]

Gold coin[]


The only gold 1 yen coin ever produced.

In 1871, a year after the minting of the previous 1 yen coin had ceased, the Empire of Japan issued a new 1 yen coin. It was significantly smaller than its predecessor, being only 1.67 grams in mass and 13.5 millimeters in diameter. The coin was the first, and only to date, 1 yen coin composed of gold. Its obverse displayed a sun surrounded by branches on both sides, which were in turn surrounded by banners. The reverse, just like the last coin, had displayed the year of minting, value, and the text "本 日 大". The minting of these coins ceased during 1892.[3]

1874 issue[]


A coin from 1900.

In 1874, during the circulation of the gold 1 yen coin, the Empire of Japan issued another 1 yen coin, which circulated alongside it in Imperial Japan. This coin had a mass of 26.96 grams and a diameter of 38.6 millimeters, being nearly equal in size to the first 1 yen coin. Also similar to the first coin was the presence of silver, which remained at .900 fineness. On the obverse was the familiar Japanese dragon from the first 1 yen coin, along with the year, the value, the silver content, and the recurring text, "大日本". The reverse displayed the value written in Japanese surrounded by a wreath and the Imperial Seal of Japan. These coins were minted up until 1912 and then again in 1914.[4][5]

Trade dollar[]

See also: Trade dollar

The trade dollar coin.

During 1875, the Empire of Japan issued a trade dollar which equaled 1 yen. It weighed a total of 27.22 grams and had a diameter of 38.58 millimeters, being nearly identical in size to the circulating 1 yen coin at the time. Its obverse featured a Japanese dragon, while its reverse had the text, "貿易", which roughly translates into "1 trade dollar". These coins ended issue in 1877.[10]

A total of about 2,736,000 coins were minted, with a majority being minted from 1876 to 1877. Many of these were inscribed with the character, "gin" (Japanese for "silver"). The Osaka Mint placed this mark on the left side of the reverse, while the Tokyo Mint also placed it on the reverse, but on the right side. They were released for use in Taiwan, Korea, and Manchuria. In 1897, when the Empire of Japan introduced the gold standard, this coin was demonetized along with all previous silver coins.[10][11]

Brass coin[]


The first brass 1 yen coin.

After the defeat of the downfall of the Empire of Japan as a result of World War II, the United States had occupied Japan. During this time, under leadership by Emperor Hirohito, a new 1 yen coin was minted. It had a mass of 3.2 grams and a diameter of 19.5 millimeters. Brass was used in the production of this coin. The obverse of the coin displayed its value, with the name of the country (日 本 國) and the year. The reverse displayed the value (which for the first time was written as 一円) with Mandarin orange flowers. This coin ceased minting only two years later in 1950.[1][6]

Current coin[]

Surface tension - Japanese 1 Yen alminium coin on water

A 1 yen coin floating on water.

The current 1 yen coin, which was first minted by Japan in 1955, includes the most new features than any other 1 yen coin before it. It is only 1 gram in mass and 20 millimeters in diameter. The low mass is due to the coin being composed of pure aluminum. Having this low of a weight, the coin is able to float on water. Its obverse features a young tree, which symbolizes the healthy growth of Japan, with the title, "日本国", above it and the value below. The reverse displays the value with the year of minting inscribed below it. During 1968, these coins were not issued, due to a preexisting overproduction. Therefore, coins from this year do not exist.[1][7][8][9]

See also[]

  • Trade coin


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Japanese yen
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