1 yen coin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
One yen
Value1 Japanese yen
Mass1 g
Diameter20 mm
Composition100% Al
Years of minting1871–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 era 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. Historically they were initially made of both silver and gold in the early 1870s. Issues facing the Japanese government at the time included wanting to adopt the gold standard, and competing against the Mexican dollar for use in foreign trade. The decision was made to use silver one yen coins exclusively outside of Japan for trade, while gold coins were minted and used in mainland Japan. Gold and silver coins were eventually allowed to co-circulate in mainland Japan from 1878 to 1897 when they were demonetized. Millions of former one yen silver coins were countermarked by the Japanese government for use outside of the mainland. Silver one yen coins continued to be minted until 1914 for backing up currency.

One yen coins were not made again until after World War II in the late 1940s for a brief period of time. The current one yen coin design was first minted in 1955, is made up of pure aluminium, and has a young tree design which has been used since. 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 new one yen coins were again 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.


Early yen (1870–1914)[edit]

The first Japanese one-yen coins were minted between 1871 and 1872 using both silver and gold alloys.[1][2] This came at a time when a new decimal system was put into place, and a modern mint was established at Osaka. The yen was officially adopted by the Meiji government in an act signed on June 27, 1871.[3] While silver one yen coins are dated 1870, this indicates their mintage date at the San Francisco Mint as the coins were not issued until the following year.[1][4] Gold one yen coins dated 1871 were not minted until 1872 at the newly formed Osaka mint.[2] No silver one yen coins were struck in 1873 as the year was devoted to turning out gold pieces domestically.[5] The exclusive minting of gold coins during this time was reflective of the Japanese government's wish to switch to the gold standard in order to keep up with countries in North America and Europe.[6] The Japanese government eventually came to the conclusion that issuing silver one yen coins alongside standard gold coins was in the best interest of foreign trade. Silver one yen coinage was resumed in 1874 for use outside of Japan to compete with the silver Mexican dollar.[7]

During the same year gold bullion rose to a slight premium which caused gold coin production as a whole to rapidly fall off. It was reported in the Quarterly Journal of Economics that by 1876 more gold coins were exported to foreign countries than for use domestically.[8] Gold coinage finally came to an end in 1877 as the Japanese government was forced off the gold standard due to the cost of the Satsuma Rebellion.[9][a] Japan ultimately chose to go with a bimetallic standard in 1878, which gave the one yen silver coin legal tender status throughout the country.[6][12] From 1878 to 1897, large amounts of one yen coins were struck as the declining price of silver increased their demand. The fluctuations over the price of silver eventually made trade with Europe and the United States unreliable.[12]

After years of advisement, the Japanese government officially switched back to the gold standard on October 1, 1897 as a solution to the trading problem. Silver one yen coins were thus officially demonetized with granted leeway time until July 31, 1898 for those wanting to trade the coins for gold.[13] The remaining silver coins in circulation were then either melted down to provide bullion for subsidiary coins, or were countermarked "Gin" for use in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, Korea, and Lüshunkou.[14][15] Silver one yen coins were not stuck again until 1901 when they served as a reserve fund for "Bank of Formosa" notes.[16] Due to the fluctuations in price between silver and gold, this practice came to an end in 1904.[17] The production of silver one yen coins eventually ended in 1914 during the 3rd year of Emperor Taishō's reign.

Modern yen (1948–)[edit]

Japanese 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.[18] 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.[18] 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.[19] 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 in 1968 due to excessive production.[20][19][21] In 1989 a national consumption tax (set at 3%) was put into place resulting in many prices that were not multiples of 5 or 10 yen, causing the Japan Mint to produce one yen coins in huge amounts.[21][22]

This consumption tax rate was raised in 1997 to 5%, 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 play. 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.[24] In 2009, unsuccessful measures that included raising money from the private sector were tried in order to lower the cost.[25] From 2011 to 2013 the Ministry of Finance stopped issuing new one yen coins for circulation. There was a small production run of 500,000 to 700,000 coins in mint sets for coin collectors.[22][26] Production resumed in 2014 when the consumption tax was raised again to 8%, causing sums to be less rounded.[27] The cost of producing each one yen coin was reported to be 3 yen as early as 2015.[28] In the following year, more cashless transactions caused the ministry to stop issuing new one yen coins for circulation again.[22][26] No coins have been made since 2016 apart from those in collectable mint sets.[27][29]

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.[30][31]

Elimination proposal & public opinion[edit]

On February 25, 2021 CDP leader Kenta Izumi proposed to abolish 1 and 5-yen coins due to the fee involved with depositing them at banks. Izumi's issue was that a fee of 550 yen is incurred at most major banks for deposits involving 101 coins or more.[32] Taro Aso, who was at the time the Minister of Finance pushed back on the notion stating "we have no plans to abolish it immediately" as there is a demand for small value transactions.[32] It was reported in October 2017 that one yen coins remained popular in places like Osaka, where the coins are traditionally used for these types of merchant transactions.[33]

According to correspondent Leo Lewis of the Financial Times, the overall use of cash will not be "broken easily" in Japan. Lewis says that elderly Japanese people have 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.[30]

Types and specifications[edit]

Modern 1 yen aluminium coins weigh exactly 1 gram each, and can float on water.
Year(s) Material Size Weight
1871[34] 90% gold, 10% copper 13.5mm 1.67g
1874, 1876–1877, 1880, 1892[11] 90% gold, 10% copper 12mm 1.67g
1870–1874[35][36] 90% silver, 10% copper 38.5mm 26.96g
1874–1887[37] 90% silver, 10% copper 38.6mm 26.96g
1888–1914[38][39] 90% silver, 10% copper 38.1mm 26.96g
1948–1950[40] Brass 19.5mm 3.2g
1955–present[19] 100% aluminium 20.0mm 1.0g

Circulation figures[edit]


The following are circulation figures for the coins minted between the 3rd and the 45th and last year of Emperor Meiji's reign. Coins for this period all begin with the Japanese symbol 明治 (Meiji). One yen trade dollars, minor varieties, and patterns are not included here. Countermarked yen ("Gin") are included in the original mintage totals.

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

"Year" ← Number representing year of reign ← Emperor's name (e.g. 年 ← 五十三 ← 治明)


1 yen gold coin from 1874 (year 7)
(one design used)
Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage
04 4th 1871 1,841,288[34]
07 7th 1874 116,341[11]
09 9th 1876 138[11]
10th 1877 7,246[11]
13th 三十 1880 112[a]
25th 五十二 1892 Not circulated[c]


1 yen silver coin from 1870 (year 3)
Design 1 - (1870)
1 yen silver coin from 1874 (year 7)
Design 2 - (1874–1914[d])
Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage
03 3rd 1870 (All types[e] 3,685,049[35]
07 7th 1874 942,006[36]
08 8th 1875 139,323[37]
11th 一十 1878 856,378[37]
12th 二十 1879 1,913,318[37]
13th 三十 1880 5,247,432[37]
14th 四十 1881 2,927,409[37]
15th 五十 1882 5,089,064[37]
16th 六十 1883 3,636,678[37]
17th 七十 1884 3,599,192[37]
18th 八十 1885 4,296,620[37]
19th 九十 1886 9,084,262[37]
20th 十二 1887 8,275,787[37]
21st 一十二 1888 9,477,414[38]
22nd 二十二 1889 9,295,348[38]
23rd 三十二 1890 7,292,877[38]
24th 四十二 1891 7,518,021[38]
25th 五十二 1892 (Early variety[f]) 11,187,613[38]
25th 五十二 1892 (Late variety[g])
26th 六十二 1893 10,403,477[38]
27th 七十二 1894 22,118,416[38]
28th 八十二 1895 21,098,754[38]
29th 九十二 1896 11,363,949[38]
30th 十三 1897 2,448,694[38]
34th 四十三 1901 1,256,252[38]
35th 五十三 1902 668,782[38]
36th 六十三 1903 5,131,096[38]
37th 七十三 1904 6,970,843[38]
38th 八十三 1905 5,031,503[38]
39th 九十三 1906 3,471,297[38]
41st 一十四 1908 334,705[38]
45th 五十四 1912 5,000,000[38]


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[39]


1 yen coin from 1948 (year 23)
Design 1 (1948 - 1950)
1 yen coin from 1955 (year 30)
Design 2 (1955 - 1989)

The following are circulation dates which cover Emperor Showa's (Hirohito's) reign. The dates below correspond to the 23rd to the 64th (last) years of his reign. Inscriptions on coins for this period all begin with the kanji characters 昭和 (Shōwa).

These coins are read from left to right:

Emperor's name → Number representing year of reign → "Year" (Ex: 昭和 → 六十二 → 年).
Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage[20][h]
23rd 二十三 1948 (Brass) 451,170,000[40]
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


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

The following are circulation dates during the reign of Emperor Akihito (Heisei), who reigned from 1989 until his abdication 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 kanji characters 平成 (Heisei). One-yen coins dated between 2011 and 2013 were only released in mint sets. Mintage was briefly resumed in 2014 only for it to be halted again in 2016. No one yen coins were released for circulation for the remainder of Heisei's reign.

These coins are read with from left to right:

Emperor's name → Number representing year of reign → "Year" (e.g. 平成 → 九 → 年).
Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage[20][h]
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[i]
24th 二十四 2012 659,000[i]
25th 二十五 2013 554,000[i]
26th 二十六 2014 124,013,000
27th 二十七 2015 82,004,000
28th 二十八 2016 574,000[i]
29th 二十九 2017 477,000[i]
30th 三十 2018 440,000[i]
31st 三十一 2019 566,000[i]


The following are circulation dates in the reign of the current Emperor. Naruhito acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019 and he was formally enthroned on October 22, 2019. Coins for this period all begin with the kanji characters 令和 (Reiwa). The inaugural year coin (2019) was marked 元 (first) and debuted during the summer of that year.[43] One yen coins have not been minted for circulation since 2015. Those that are minted are intended for collectors who purchase them at a premium.

These coins are read from left to right:

Emperor's name → Number representing year of reign → Year (e.g. 令和 → 元 → 年).
Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage[20][h]
1st 2019 502,000[i]
2nd 2020 528,000[i]
3rd 2021 845,000[i]
4th 2022 TBD
5th 2023 TBD


  1. ^ a b One yen gold coins were only struck in 1880 as part of presentation sets. These were given as gifts for visiting dignitaries and heads of state.[10][11]
  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.[23]
  3. ^ Several unique coins dated 1892 are known to have been produced to display at the World's Columbian Exposition.[41] While there are no known existing examples of one yen gold coins dated 1892 (year 25), they are mentioned by Krause Publications.[42]
  4. ^ The second and final silver coin design was also used during Taishō's reign.
  5. ^ These coins were struck in 1871 using three different major varieties.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ The second variety is known as the "late variety" where the flame overlaps the third spine of the dragon.
  8. ^ a b c Mintages on the Japan Mint website are in thousands
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Not circulated.[26][29]


  1. ^ a b University of Wisconsin (1964). Japan Report. Consulate General of Japan. p. 10.
  2. ^ a b Edouard Frossard (1878). The Coin Collector's Journal. Vol. 3. Scott and Company. p. 40.
  3. ^ A. Piatt Andrew, Quarterly Journal of Economics, "The End of the Mexican Dollar", 18:3:321–356, 1904, p. 345
  4. ^ Silver Coins of Japan. Catalogues of United States and Foreign Coins, Medals, Etc. John Polhumus. 1878. p. 16.
  5. ^ Monetary System of Japan. Report and Accompanying Documents of the United States Monetary Commission. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1877. p. 297 & 298.
  6. ^ a b "Collecting Japanese Silver Yen: The Dragon Yen 1870-1914". Antique Marks. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  7. ^ Alfred Stead (1904). Japan by the Japanese. W. Heinemann. p. 326.
  8. ^ Monetary Changes in Japan. The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Harvard University. 1898. p. 154–155.
  9. ^ 帝国現代縱横史. Vol. 3. Period Research Group. 1918. p. 150.
  10. ^ "Meiji Proof gold 1 Yen Year 13 (1880)". Heritage Auctions. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Japan Yen Y# 9a". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Gold Standard in International Trade. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1905. p. 485.
  13. ^ New Coinage law of Japan. Sound Currency. Sound Currency Committee of the Reform Club. 1899. p. 28 & 29.
  14. ^ Krause, Chester L. and Mishler, Clifford: 1996 Standard Catalog of World Coins (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, ISBN 0-87341-357-1), p. 1370.
  15. ^ Colin R. Bruce, Marian Moe (1995). Collecting world coins: a full century of circulating issues. Krause Publications. p. 1949.
  16. ^ Cornell University (1903). Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events. D. Appleton & Company. p. 354.
  17. ^ The Bank of Taiwan. Japan as it is. Kokusai Tsushin-Sha. 1915. p. 256.
  18. ^ a b Chester L. Krause & Clifford Mishler. Collecting World Coins 10th edition. Krause Publications. p. 432.
  19. ^ a b c "1-yen Aluminum Coin". Japan Mint. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  20. ^ a b c d "年銘別貨幣製造枚数" (PDF) (in Japanese). Japan Mint. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  21. ^ a b "Japanese Coins". www.nippon.com. December 6, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  22. ^ a b c JiJi (September 16, 2018). "Demand for lowly ¥1 coin sinks as consumers take to cashless transactions". Japan Times. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  23. ^ "Coin Production Process 1". Japan Mint. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  24. ^ "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.
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ a b c Richard Giedroyc (October 29, 2018). "End of road for Japan's 1-yen coin". Numismatic News. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  27. ^ a b "E-Money Uptake Brings ¥1 Coin Production to Near Standstill". Nippon.com. February 1, 2019. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ a b Shinichi Ueno (June 22, 2022). "作るのに3円かかるらしい1円玉。発行年の新しいものがめったに見られないワケとは?". Financial Field (in Japanese). Archived from the original on June 25, 2022. Retrieved December 8, 2022.
  30. ^ a b Leo Lewis (January 9, 2019). "Japan's cash addiction will not be easily broken". Financial Times. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  31. ^ "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.
  32. ^ a b "1円玉と5円玉「役割終えている」 国会で論戦 立民の泉政調会長「さい銭多い神社が苦労」". Kyoto News. February 26, 2021. Archived from the original on January 30, 2022.
  33. ^ Masahiro Hidaka (October 25, 2017). "Osaka's 1-Yen Sales Attract Shoppers But May Undercut Inflation". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Yr.4(1871)". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  35. ^ a b "Yr.3(1870) Type I". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  36. ^ a b "Yr.7(1874)". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Japan Yen Y# A25.2". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Japan Yen Y# A25.3". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  39. ^ a b "Japan Yen Y# 38 Yr.3(1914)". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  40. ^ a b "Japan Yen Y# 70 Yr.23(1948)". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  41. ^ "Japan: Meiji gold Proof 10 Yen Year 4 (1871) PR66 Cameo". Heritage Auctions. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  42. ^ "Yr.25(1892) None struck for circulation". Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  43. ^ "Reiwa coins to debut summer 2019". mainichi.jp. Retrieved June 3, 2019.

External links[edit]