One of the first and the most important things you need to know while moving to a new country is the monetary system of that nation and the currency and denominations. Without using them, you can’t survive anywhere. In Japan, there are six different coins and three bills that are currently used. The monetary unit of Japan is the yen (円:en).
Firstly, let’s find out some interesting details about the coins and bills that we make use of in our everyday life in Japan. The money is called “Okane” in Japanese. The coin is called “Tama” or “Dama” as it is round. For eg., 1 yen coin is called Ichi en tama. The bills are called “Satsu”. For eg., 1,000 yen note is called Sen en satsu. “Otsuri”(おつり） is the Japanese word for “change”. And “Komakai Okane”（細かいお金） means “Small change”(while paying at shops or so).
Japanese currency uses following coins: 1 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, 50 yen, 100 yen and 500 yen. While the notes are 1,000 yen, 5,000 yen and 10,000 yen.
Ichi En Dama or the 1 yen coin is made of aluminium and is the smallest monetary value currently used in Japan. It weighs only 1 gram and is 20mm in diameter. The obverse of the coin has the number 1 and the year of minting inscribed on it in Japanese, while the reverse has the picture of a young tree branch along with the value of the coin written in Japanese and the name of the country (日本国 :Nihon-koku).
It is made of nickel and has a hole in the centre. The obverse has the value of the coin written in Japanese letters and the picture of the rice stem. While the reverse has the title of the nation and the year of minting inscribed on it.
Rice being the staple food of Japan, is always considered a part of the Japanese culture and is given importance.
10 yen coin is made of Copper. The obverse has the value 10 written in the centre with the year of minting in Japanese at the bottom along with the evergreen tree stems on both sides. The reverse side has the name of the country and the value of the coin written in Japanese, along with the picture of a temple. The temple inscribed in the coin is Kyoto’s Byo-do-in temple.
Byo-do-in temple is situated in Uji, Kyoto prefecture, it is one of the most precious among the historical buildings in Japan with its famous Phoenix hall. It is one of the World Heritage sites in Kyoto and it holds many historical assets.
This coin is made of copper and nickel and has a hole in the centre just like the 5 yen coin. It has the value 50 written at the top and the year of minting written at the bottom of the hole on the obverse side. The reverse side has the name of the country at the top and the value of the coin written in words at the bottom, along with chrysanthemum flowers at the both sides of the central hole.
Chrysanthemum or Kiku is considered the symbol of longevity and rejuvenation in Japanese culture, and we can see this flower symbol used as a seal in many cases.
100 yen coin is also made of nickel and copper, and is one of the most commonly found and used coins in Japan. The center of the obverse of this coin has the value 100 written in big font and the year of minting of the coin beneath it. The other side has a picture of Sakura, or cherry blossom, on it with the title of the nation at the top, and the value written in words at the bottom of this picture.
Cherry blossoms in spring are ones of the most important flowers of Japan. Japanese enjoy the tradition of eating and relaxing beneath the blossomed trees, known as Hanami.
This one has the highest value among Japanese coins with a thickness of 2mm and weight of about 7 grams. The diameter is also greater than of the other coins. The centre of the obverse has the value 500 in big font with small horizontal bars seen inside the numbers, and the year of minting beneath it. Inside the zeros, we can see the inscription 500 円 written vertically.
Above and below the number there are pictures of 5 bamboo leaves, and the picture of orange stems on the left and on the right. Paulownia plant with flowers is inscribed on the reverse of this coin, with the title of the nation at the top, and the value of the coin in Japanese at the bottom.
Paulownia trees or the Imperial trees are closely related to the culture of Japan, as they use the wood from this plant to make valuable and precious kimono boxes, musical instruments and even houses. The bamboo trees are also given great importance in the culture and the customs of Japan.
They are used for making Kadomatsu to decorate the entrance of offices and houses during the New year. The mandarin oranges or mikan are another important thing related to the culture of Japan. They are small seedless winter oranges which are considered ones of the best quality oranges worldwide.
The denominations of notes in Japan start from 1000 yen. And the currently used notes were issued very recently, in 2004. They all have width of 76mm , but the length varies slightly; 150 mm, 156mm and 160mm.
1,000 yen note(Sen en satsu)
This bill has the portrait of Hideyo Noguchi, the most prominent bacteriologist of Japan who found the causative agent of syphilis, on the front side, and Mt.Fuji and cherry blossoms on the backside.
5,000 yen note(Go-sen en satsu)
5000 yen note has the portrait of Ichiyo Higuchi on the front side, and a painting by Ogata Kouri, one of the most famous Japanese painters on the back side. The painting found on this currency is known as “Kakitsubata-zu” which is the most renowned painting of irises in Japan.
10,000 yen note (Ichi-man en satsu)
10,000 yen currency note is the monetary unit of the highest value across the country. It has the portrait of the famous Japanese writer Yukichi Fukuzawa, the founder of Keio university, at the front side and the back side has the picture of the statue of Phoenix bird of Byo-do-in temple, Kyoto.
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Japan is planning on releasing new banknotes aiming for the first half of 2024 and new 500 yen coins having as aim first half of 2021.
The 10,000 yen bills and 5,000 yen one will include a hologram, as a measure to strengthen the security.
As for the 500 yen coins, new materials will be incorporated and put in circulation in 2021.
The ministry affirmed that the personalities on the new bills are well-known in the country through textbooks and also that the new banknotes are suitable for the new era name “Reiwa” and have as one of the aims and focus overcoming new challenges.
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