5 yen coin

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Five yen
Value 5 Japanese yen
Mass 3.75 g
Diameter 22 mm
Thickness 1.5 mm
Center hole diameter 5 mm
Composition c. 65% Cu
c. 35% Zn
Years of minting 1948–1958 (Old style)
1959–present (New style)
Catalog number KM 72, 72a, 96.1 and 96.2
Design Rice ,water and gear
Designer "Old script"
Design Tree sprouts
Designer "new script"

The 5 yen coin (五円硬貨 Go-en kōka?) is one denomination of Japanese yen. The current design was first minted in 1959 using Japanese characters known as the "new script", and were also minted from 1948-1958 using "old-script" Japanese characters. Five-yen coins date to 1870 (when, due to the much higher value of the yen, they were minted in gold). The modern-day coin was first produced in 1948 with a different styled inscription. This was changed in 1959 and the design has remained unchanged since.

The front of the coin depicts a rice plant growing out of the water, with "five yen" written in kanji; the back is stamped with "Japan" and the year of issue, also in kanji, separated by sprouts of a tree. The three graphic elements of the coin represent agriculture and fisheries, the key elements of the Japanese first-sector economy. Around a hole, there is a gear that represents industry. It is the only Japanese coin in circulation to lack Arabic numerals on either face.

Cultural significance[edit]

The Japanese for "five yen," go en (五円) is a homophone with go-en (御縁), "en" being a word for causal connection or relationship, and "go" being a respectful prefix. As a result, five-yen coins are commonly given as donations at Shinto shrines with the intention of establishing a good connection with the deity of the shrine, and is widely believed it is best to insert a single five-yen coin into a new wallet before inserting any other money.

Use in nuclear accident investigation[edit]

Following the nuclear accident at Tokai, Ibaraki in 1999, physicists Masuchika Kohno and Yoshinobu Koizumi showed how this coin could be used to estimate neutron dosage to the surrounding population, by measuring its zinc isotope ratios. They write:

The Japanese 5-yen coin is about 22 millimeters in diameter and 1.5 mm thick, weighs 3.75 grams and has a central hole 5 mm wide. We chose this coin for monitoring neutron exposure because it is widely circulated, the zinc content is precisely controlled, and the generated has a convenient half-life (244.1 days) and gamma ray energy emission (1,115.5 keV). To obtain a record of the dosage of neutrons released as a result of the accident, we collected exposed coins from people's houses at distances 100–550 m from the facility.[1]

They concluded that the coin could offer information about the total neutron effect during the accident, and about shielding by modern Japanese houses, given that the coins were recovered from indoors.

Circulation figures[edit]


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. All five yen coins that were made before 1959 use Shinjitai, or old script Japanese. In 1949 only, two different styles of writing were used before a more modern one was established in 1950. This second style of writing was used until 1958 when the current script of Japanese took its place in the following year. Coins for this period will all begin with the Japanese symbol 昭和 (Showa).

  • Japanese coins are read with a left to right format:
"Emperors name" -> "Number representing year of reign" -> "Year" (Ex: 昭和 -> 三十四 -> 年).

* = First style
** = Second style
^ = Third style

Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage[2]
23rd 二十三 1948 * 74,520
24th 二十四 1949 * 179,692
24th 二十四 1949 ** 111,896
25th 二十五 1950 181,824
26th 二十六 1951 197,980
27th 二十七 1952 55,000
28th 二十八 1953 45,000
29th 二十九 1954 0
30th 三十 1955 0
31st 三十一 1956 0
32nd 三十二 1957 10,000
33rd 三十三 1958 ** 50,000
34th 三十四 1959 ^ 33,000
35th 三十五 1960 34,800
36th 三十六 1961 61,000
37th 三十七 1962 126,700
38th 三十八 1963 171,800
39th 三十九 1964 379,700
40th 四十 1965 384,200
41st 四十一 1966 163,100
42nd 四十二 1967 26,000
43rd 四十三 1968 114,000
44th 四十四 1969 240,000
45th 四十五 1970 340,000
46th 四十六 1971 362,050
47th 四十七 1972 562,950
48th 四十八 1973 745,000
49th 四十九 1974 950,000
50th 五十 1975 970,000
51st 五十一 1976 200,000
52nd 五十二 1977 340,000
53rd 五十三 1978 318,000
54th 五十四 1979 317,000
55th 五十五 1980 385,000
56th 五十六 1981 95,000
57th 五十七 1982 455,000
58th 五十八 1983 410,000
59th 五十九 1984 202,850
60th 六十 1985 153,150
61st 六十一 1986 113,960
62nd 六十二 1987 631,775
63rd 六十三 1988 396,120
64th 六十四 1989 67,332


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).

  • Japanese coins are read with a left to right format:
"Emperors name" -> "Number representing year of reign" -> "Year" (Ex: 平成 -> 三 -> 年).
Year of reign Japanese date Gregorian date Mintage[2]
1st 1989 960,660
2nd 1990 520,953
3rd 1991 517,120
4th 1992 301,130
5th 1993 413,240
6th 1994 197,767
7th 1995 351,874
8th 1996 207,213
9th 1997 239,086
10th 1998 172,612
11th 十一 1999 60,120
12th 十二 2000 9,030
13th 十三 2001 78,025
14th 十四 2002 143,662
15th 十五 2003 102,406
16th 十六 2004 70,903
17th 十七 2005 16,029
18th 十八 2006 9,594
19th 十九 2007 9,904
20th 二十 2008 9,811
21st 二十一 2009 4,003
22nd 二十二 2010 510
23rd 二十三 2011 456
24h 二十四 2012 659
25th 二十五 2013 554
26th 二十六 2014 87,538
27th 二十七 2015 105,004
28th 二十八 2016 -


  1. ^ Kohno, Masuchika; and Yoshinobu Koizumi (2000). "Tokaimura accident: Neutron dose estimates from 5-yen coins". Nature. 406 (6797): 693. doi:10.1038/35021138. PMID 10963586. 
  2. ^ a b "Circulation figures" (PDF). Japan Mint. Retrieved August 27, 2016. 

External links[edit]