1 yen coin

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One yen
Value1 Japanese yen
Mass1 g
Diameter20 mm
Thickness1.5 mm
Composition100% Al
Years of minting1955–present
1yen showa64 reverse.jpg
DesignYoung tree with the words "State of Japan" above, and "1 Yen" below.
Design date1955
1yen showa64 obverse.jpg
Design"1" in a circle with year of issue in kanji- (Showa Period year 64- 1989)
Design date1955

The 1-yen coin (一円硬貨, Ichi-en kōka) is the smallest denomination of the Japanese yen currency. The first Japanese one-yen coin was minted in 1871, and was made out of silver. Eventually gold coins were also produced causing co-circulation among the two. Silver one-yen coins ceased production in 1914. Brass one-yen coins were made in the late 1940s, but the current design was first minted in 1955. The current design is made up of an aluminium alloy which has remained unchanged since the coin was first minted.

In the early 2010s increasing usage of electronic money led to a lack of demand, and production of the coin was confined to mint sets until 2014. Regular production only lasted until 2016 when again one yen coins were confined only to mint sets. Like with the U.S. penny, the Japan Mint has minted one-yen coins at a loss due to the rising cost of the base metal used in the coins.

Current design[edit]

The one-yen coin is the oldest modern denomination coin, the design has remained the same since its introduction in 1955.[1] The obverse of the coin has a figure "1" in a circle that represents one yen, below the digit is the year of issue which is written in kanji. The reverse side has a young tree, intended to symbolize the healthy growth of Japan.[2]


Early one-yen coin (1.5 g of pure gold), obverse and reverse.

The first Japanese one-yen coin was minted in 1870, at first these coins were primarily minted in silver. The obverse of these coins featured a dragon with a circular inscription around it. The reverse had a radiant sun surrounded by a wreath, with the chrysanthemum emblem (a symbol of the Japanese Imperial Family) flanked by two seals of the Japanese government. The following year though Japan switched to the Gold standard in order to keep up with countries in North America, and Europe.[3] Production of silver one-yen coins was halted, and new small gold coins took their place. Through 1874-1875, one-yen silver coins were again minted with a new design only to be halted again sometime in 1875 in favor of "Trade Dollars". Both silver and gold coins co-circulated after 1878 when Japan went with a bimetallic standard, and production again resumed of silver one-yen coins. Gold one-yen coins were minted until 1880, while the silver ones lasted until 1914.[4][3]

Coinage was reformed in 1948 with the issue of a brass one-yen coin, 451,170,000 coins were minted until production stopped in 1950.[5] The obverse features a numeral "1" with "State of Japan" above, and the date below, while the reverse reads "One Yen" with a floral pattern below it.[5] The current design was introduced in 1955, when the first aluminium one-yen coin was minted, throughout its minting history the coin was fully halted (none released in mint sets) only once in 1968 due to excessive production.[6][2] In 1989 a national consumption tax was put into place that calculated prices down to single-yen units.[1]

In 2011 the increasing usage of electronic money led to a lack of demand for the coin; as a result one-yen coins minted until 2013 were only released in mint sets. Production resumed in 2014 due to a consumption tax hike that went into effect.[clarification needed] The cost of manufacturing 1-yen coins has become an issue in recent years. By the early 2000s the cost of manufacturing the one-yen coin had risen, and by 2003 it cost 13 yen to mint a sheet[clarification needed] of coins.[7] Measures were taken in 2009, including raising money from the private sector but that did not completely ease[clarification needed] the cost of manufacture, which was 3 yen for each 1-yen coin in 2015.[8][9] One yen coins remain popular in places like Osaka where the coins have been traditionally used for merchant transactions. In October, 2017 it was reported that as a result prices in general across Japan have been difficult to rise steadily.[10]

One-yen coins have also seen non monetary usage; since all 1-yen coins weigh just one gram, they are sometimes used as weights.[11] If placed carefully on the surface of still water, 1-yen coins will not break surface tension and thus can float.

Circulation figures[edit]


The following are circulation dates which cover Emperor Hirohito's reign. The dates below correspond with the 30th to the 64th year (last) of his reign. Coins for this period will all begin with the Japanese symbol 昭和 (Shōwa).

  • Japanese coins are read with a left to right format:
"Emperor's name" → "Number representing year of reign" → "Year" (Ex: 昭和 → 六十二 → 年).
Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage [6]
30th 三十 1955 381,700
31st 三十一 1956 500,900
32nd 三十二 1957 492,000
33rd 三十三 1958 374,900
34th 三十四 1959 208,600
35th 三十五 1960 300,000
36th 三十六 1961 432,400
37th 三十七 1962 572,000
38th 三十八 1963 788,700
39th 三十九 1964 1,665,100
40th 四十 1965 1,743,256
41st 四十一 1966 807,344
42nd 四十二 1967 220,600
43rd 四十三 1968 0
44th 四十四 1969 184,700
45th 四十五 1970 556,400
46th 四十六 1971 904,950
47th 四十七 1972 1,274,950
48th 四十八 1973 1,470,000
49th 四十九 1974 1,750,000
50th 五十 1975 1,656,150
51st 五十一 1976 928,850
52nd 五十二 1977 895,000
53rd 五十三 1978 864,000
54th 五十四 1979 1,015,000
55th 五十五 1980 1,145,000
56th 五十六 1981 1,206,000
57th 五十七 1982 1,017,000
58th 五十八 1983 1,086,000
59th 五十九 1984 981,850
60th 六十 1985 837,150
61st 六十一 1986 417,960
62nd 六十二 1987 955,775
63rd 六十三 1988 1,269,042
64th 六十四 1989 116,100


Picture of a one-yen coin of the Heisei era, year 18 (2006)

The following are circulation dates in the reign of the current Emperor. Akihito was crowned in 1989, which is marked with a 元 symbol on the coin as a one year type. Coins for this period all begin with the Japanese symbol 平成 (Heisei). One-yen coins dated between 2011 and 2013 were only released in mint sets. Although regular production resumed in 2014, the mintage was again halted in 2016 as exclusive to mint sets only.

  • Japanese coins are read with a left to right format:
"Emperor's name" → "Number representing year of reign" → "Year" (Ex: 平成 → 九 → 年).
Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage [6]
1st 1989 2,366,970
2nd 1990 2,768,953
3rd 1991 2,301,120
4th 1992 1,299,130
5th 1993 1,261,240
6th 1994 1,040,767
7th 1995 1,041,874
8th 1996 942,213
9th 1997 783,086
10th 1998 452,612
11th 十一 1999 67,120
12th 十二 2000 12,026
13th 十三 2001 8,024
14th 十四 2002 9,667
15th 十五 2003 117,406
16th 十六 2004 52,903
17th 十七 2005 30,029
18th 十八 2006 129,594
19th 十九 2007 223,904
20th 二十 2008 134,811
21st 二十一 2009 48,003
22nd 二十二 2010 7,905
23rd 二十三 2011 456
24th 二十四 2012 659
25th 二十五 2013 554
26th 二十六 2014 124,013
27th 二十七 2015 82,004
28th 二十八 2016 574
29th 二十九 2017 477
30th 三十 2018 -


  1. ^ a b "Japanese Coins". www.nippon.com. December 6, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "1-yen Aluminum Coin". Japan Mint. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Collecting Japanese Silver Yen: The Dragon Yen 1870-1914". Antique Marks. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  4. ^ "Japan Gold Complete Yen Set 1871-1880". Professional Coin Grading Service. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Chester L. Krause & Clifford Mishler. Collecting World Coins 10th edition. Krause Publications. p. 432.
  6. ^ a b c "Circulation figures" (PDF) (in Japanese). Japan Mint. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  7. ^ "景気対策を目的とした政府貨幣増発の帰結" (PDF) (in Japanese). www.murc.jp. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  8. ^ "1円玉原価割れも 金属値上がりでおカネづくり一苦労" (in Japanese). www.nikkei.com. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  9. ^ Lester Somera (December 8, 2015). "Understanding the Yen: Bills and Coins". Matcha magazine. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  10. ^ Masahiro Hidaka (October 25, 2017). "Osaka's 1-Yen Sales Attract Shoppers But May Undercut Inflation". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  11. ^ "The Fate of the 1 Yen Coin – When will it lose its lustre in Japan?". www.stippy.com. June 24, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2016.

External links[edit]