1 yen coin

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One yen
Value1 Japanese yen
Mass1 g
Diameter20 mm
Thickness1.5 mm
Composition100% Al
Years of minting1870–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 1870, 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.


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.[1] 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.[2][1]

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.[3] The obverse of these brass coins 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.[3] The current aluminium coin was first introduced in 1955 with a floral design. The obverse has a young tree, intended to symbolize the healthy growth of Japan. The reverse side 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.[4] The one yen coin remains the oldest modern denomination coin with an unchanged design, throughout its minting history the coin was fully halted only once[a] in 1968 due to excessive production.[5][4][6] In 1989 a national consumption tax (set at 3%) was put into place that calculated prices down to single-yen units, causing the Japan Mint to produce one yen coins in huge numbers.[6][7]

This consumption tax rate was raised in 1997 to five percent, reducing demand for the coin. By the turn of the century other factors such as rising metal costs and increasing usage of electronic money began to come into place. It was reported in 2003, that it cost 13 yen for the mint to produce a rolled plate[b] for one yen coins. The rising price of aluminum had started to generate a commercial loss for the Japan Mint.[9] In 2009, unsuccessful measures that included raising money from the private sector were tried in order to lower the cost.[10] From 2011 to 2013 the Ministry of Finance stopped issuing new one yen coins for circulation. A small production run of 500,000 to 700,000 coins were made for coin collectors in mint sets.[7][11] Production resumed in 2014 when the consumption tax hike was raised again to 8%, causing sums to be less rounded.[12]

The price to make a single one yen coin was reported to cost 3 yen as early as 2015.[13] In the following year, more cashless transactions caused the ministry to stop issuing new one yen coins for circulation again.[7][11] It was reported in October 2017 though, that one yen coins remained popular in places like Osaka, where the coins are traditionally used for merchant transactions.[14] The negative effects from this caused difficulty for prices in general across Japan to rise steadily due to an undercut in inflation.[14] Despite their localized popularity, no coins have been made since 2016 apart from ones issued specially for collectable mint sets.[12] The future of the one yen coin remains in doubt due to two major events possibly coming into effect over the next several years. The first is a proposal to increase the consumption tax rate to 10% in October 2019, likely causing further lack of demand for the coin. The second event is the Japanese government's goal of increasing cashless transactions to 40% of all transactions by 2025.[7][12]

According to correspondent Leo Lewis's opinion from the Financial Times, the overall use of cash will not be "broken easily" in Japan. Lewis states the elderly portion of the population has not been eager for innovation, and conditions such as "low street crime, low interest rates and a reduced threshold on inheritance tax" remain in place that increase the appeal of carrying cash.[15] One-yen coins have also seen non monetary usage; since all 1-yen coins weigh just one gram, they are sometimes used as weights. If placed carefully on the surface of still water, 1-yen coins will not break surface tension and thus can also float.[15][16]


Years Material
1871 & 1874
1880 & 1892
90% gold, 10% copper
90% silver, 10% copper
1948–1950 Brass
1955–present 100% aluminium

Circulation figures[edit]

1 yen coin from 1874 (year 7)
(Gold - one design used)
1 yen silver coin from 1870 (year 3)
Design 1 - (1870)
1 yen silver coin from 1874 (year 7)
Design 2 - (1873–1914[c])


The following are circulation figures for the coins that were minted between the 3rd, and the 45th and last year of Meiji's reign. Coins for this period all begin with the Japanese symbol 明治 (Meiji). One yen trade dollars and/or patterns are not included here.

  • Inscriptions on Japanese coins from this period are read clockwise from right to left:

"Year" ← "Number representing year of reign" ← "Emperor's name" (Ex: 年 ← 五十三 ← 治明)

Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage
03 3rd 1870 (Includes all types[d]) 3,685,049[17]
04 4th 1871 (Gold) 1,841,288[18]
06 6th 1873 (Silver) 00 Rare[19]
07 7th 1874 (Gold) 116,341[20]
07 7th 1874 (Silver) 942,006[21]
08 8th 1875 139,323[22]
09 9th 1876 (Gold) 138[20]
10th 1877 (Gold) 7,246[20]
11th 一十 1878 856,378[22]
12th 二十 1879 1,913,318[22]
13th 三十 1880 (Gold) 112[20]
13th 三十 1880 (Silver) 5,247,432[22]
14th 四十 1881 2,927,409[22]
15th 五十 1882 5,089,064[22]
16th 六十 1883 3,636,678[22]
17th 七十 1884 3,599,192[22]
18th 八十 1885 4,296,620[22]
19th 九十 1886 9,084,262[22]
20th 十二 1887 8,275,787[22]
21st 一十二 1888 9,477,414[23]
22nd 二十二 1889 9,295,348[23]
23rd 三十二 1890 7,292,877[23]
24th 四十二 1891 7,518,021[23]
25th 五十二 1892 (Early variety[e]) 11,187,613[23]
25th 五十二 1892 (Late variety[f])
25th 五十二 1892 (Gold) Not circulated[24]
26th 六十二 1893 10,403,477[23]
27th 七十二 1894 22,118,416[23]
28th 八十二 1895 21,098,754[23]
29th 九十二 1896 11,363,949[23]
30th 十三 1897 2,448,694[23]
34th 四十三 1901 1,256,252[23]
35th 五十三 1902 668,782[23]
36th 六十三 1903 5,131,096[23]
37th 七十三 1904 6,970,843[23]
38th 八十三 1905 5,031,503[23]
39th 九十三 1906 3,471,297[23]
41st 一十四 1908 334,705[23]
45th 五十四 1912 5,000,000[23]


The following is a circulation figure for coins that were minted during the 3rd year of Taishō's reign. Coins from this period all begin with the Japanese symbol 大正 (Taishō). This was the final year one yen coins were minted in silver, and is a one year type.

  • Inscriptions on Japanese coins from this period are read clockwise from right to left:
"Year" ← "Number representing year of reign" ← "Emperor's name" (Ex: 年 ← 三十 ← 正大)
Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage
3rd 1914 11,500,000[25]


1 yen coin from 1948 (year 23)
(Design 1 - (1948 - 1950)
1 yen coin from 1955 (year 30)
(Design 2 - (1955 - present)

The following are circulation dates which cover Emperor Hirohito's reign. The dates below correspond with the 23rd 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[5][g]
23rd 二十三 1948 (Brass) 451,170,000[26]
24th 二十四 1949 (Brass)
25th 二十五 1950 (Brass)
30th 三十 1955 381,700,000
31st 三十一 1956 500,900,000
32nd 三十二 1957 492,000,000
33rd 三十三 1958 374,900,000
34th 三十四 1959 208,600,000
35th 三十五 1960 300,000,000
36th 三十六 1961 432,400,000
37th 三十七 1962 572,000,000
38th 三十八 1963 788,700,000
39th 三十九 1964 1,665,100,000
40th 四十 1965 1,743,256,000
41st 四十一 1966 807,344,000
42nd 四十二 1967 220,600,000
44th 四十四 1969 184,700,000
45th 四十五 1970 556,400,000
46th 四十六 1971 904,950,000
47th 四十七 1972 1,274,950,000
48th 四十八 1973 1,470,000,000
49th 四十九 1974 1,750,000,000
50th 五十 1975 1,656,150,000
51st 五十一 1976 928,850,000
52nd 五十二 1977 895,000,000
53rd 五十三 1978 864,000,000
54th 五十四 1979 1,015,000,000
55th 五十五 1980 1,145,000,000
56th 五十六 1981 1,206,000,000
57th 五十七 1982 1,017,000,000
58th 五十八 1983 1,086,000,000
59th 五十九 1984 981,850,000
60th 六十 1985 837,150,000
61st 六十一 1986 417,960,000
62nd 六十二 1987 955,775,000
63rd 六十三 1988 1,269,042,000
64th 六十四 1989 116,100,000


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

The following are circulation dates during the reign of Emperor Akihito (Heisei), who ruled from 1989 until his retirement in April, 2019. The first year of his reign 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[5][g]
01 1st 1989 2,366,970,000
02 2nd 1990 2,768,953,000
03 3rd 1991 2,301,120,000
04 4th 1992 1,299,130,000
05 5th 1993 1,261,240,000
06 6th 1994 1,040,767,000
07 7th 1995 1,041,874,000
08 8th 1996 942,213,000
09 9th 1997 783,086,000
10th 1998 452,612,000
11th 十一 1999 67,120,000
12th 十二 2000 12,026,000
13th 十三 2001 8,024,000
14th 十四 2002 9,667,000
15th 十五 2003 117,406,000
16th 十六 2004 52,903,000
17th 十七 2005 30,029,000
18th 十八 2006 129,594,000
19th 十九 2007 223,904,000
20th 二十 2008 134,811,000
21st 二十一 2009 48,003,000
22nd 二十二 2010 7,905,000
23rd 二十三 2011 456,000[h]
24th 二十四 2012 659,000[h]
25th 二十五 2013 554,000[h]
26th 二十六 2014 124,013,000
27th 二十七 2015 82,004,000
28th 二十八 2016 574,000[h]
29th 二十九 2017 477,000[h]
30th 三十 2018 440,000[h]
31st 三十一 2019 TBD


The following are circulation dates in the reign of the current Emperor. Naruhito's accession to the Crysanthemum Throne took place on May 1, 2019 and will be formally enthroned on October 22, 2019. Coins for this period will begin with the Japanese symbol 令和 (Reiwa). The inaugural year coin 2019 will be marked 元 (first) and will "likely debut" after summer (September, 2019 or later).[27]

Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage
1st 2019 TBD


  1. ^ None released in mint sets
  2. ^ Metal is melted down into ingots that are then rolled into plates to the thickness of the desired coin, the blanks are then punched out of the plates.[8]
  3. ^ The second and final silver coin design was also used during Taishō's reign.
  4. ^ Three different major varieties were created in 1870.
  5. ^ Two different main varieties exist for coins dated 1892, both of which have to do with the dragon design present on the obverse side of the coin. The first is known as the "early variety" where the dragon's flame extends between the fourth and fifth spine.
  6. ^ The second variety is known as the "late variety" where the flame overlaps the third spine of the dragon.
  7. ^ a b Mintages on the Japan Mint website are in thousands
  8. ^ a b c d e f Not circulated.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Collecting Japanese Silver Yen: The Dragon Yen 1870-1914". Antique Marks. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  2. ^ "Japan Gold Complete Yen Set 1871-1880". Professional Coin Grading Service. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Chester L. Krause & Clifford Mishler. Collecting World Coins 10th edition. Krause Publications. p. 432.
  4. ^ a b "1-yen Aluminum Coin". Japan Mint. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "年銘別貨幣製造枚数" (PDF) (in Japanese). Japan Mint. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Japanese Coins". www.nippon.com. December 6, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d JiJi (September 16, 2018). "Demand for lowly ¥1 coin sinks as consumers take to cashless transactions". Japan Times. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  8. ^ "Coin Production Process 1". Japan Mint. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  9. ^ "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. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ a b c Richard Giedroyc (October 29, 2018). "End of road for Japan's 1-yen coin". Numismatic News. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c "E-Money Uptake Brings ¥1 Coin Production to Near Standstill". Nippon.com. February 1, 2019. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  13. ^ Lester Somera (December 8, 2015). "Understanding the Yen: Bills and Coins". Matcha magazine. Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Masahiro Hidaka (October 25, 2017). "Osaka's 1-Yen Sales Attract Shoppers But May Undercut Inflation". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Leo Lewis (January 9, 2019). "Japan's cash addiction will not be easily broken". Financial Times. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "Yr.3(1870) Type I". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  18. ^ "Yr.4(1871)". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  19. ^ "Yr.6(1873)". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  20. ^ a b c d "Japan Yen Y# 9a". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  21. ^ "Yr.7(1874)". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Japan Yen Y# A25.2". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Japan Yen Y# A25.3". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  24. ^ "Yr.25(1892) None struck for circulation". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  25. ^ "Japan Yen Y# 38 Yr.3(1914)". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  26. ^ "Japan Yen Y# 70 Yr.23(1948)". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  27. ^ "Reiwa coins to debut summer 2019". mainichi.jp. Retrieved June 3, 2019.