The Japanese Coins: What Is So Special About Them?

  • The advent of e-commerce has facilitated the increase in use of credit and debit cards in Japan. Despite the growing number of electronic payment systems, cash is still majorly used for daily expenditures. Of course, larger denominations are majorly relied on, but coins as small as 1yen still have place in the economy. Japan currently has six coins in circulation with values ranging from 1 to 500 yen with various images which include royal symbols such as chrysanthemum blossoms, rice stalks, date of minting and so on.

    The Evolution of Japanese Coin Designs

    Japan’s paper money are made differently from coins. While paper bills are printed in the bank, coins are manufactured independently under the authority of the Japan Mint. The term “Kozeni” is a word that traditionally referred to 100 and 500 yen coins. However, the word may also refer to pocket change of any size.
    The oldest denomination among Japanese coins is the one yen which first appeared in 1955. This is the only coin which has kept its original design which symbolizes the growth and progress of Japan. On the other hand, the five yen and fifty yen coins use the designs which first appeared with the “Wado Kaichin” coins of the sixth century, featuring center holes. The fifty yen did not have a hole up until 1959. But the coin was then pierced at the center to be more easily distinguishable from the 100 yen coin. Ridges may be found on the edges of 50, 100 and 10 yen coins that were minted from the Showa Era (1951-1958) on. There were also about 26 to 33 varieties of 10 yen coins during this era which also gave it a nickname gijazu.

    The Fight against Money Counterfeiting

    There are several design aspects in Japanese coins to fight money counterfeiting. Aside from the use of helical ridges on the edges of the coins, the 500 yen, for instance, is minted with a latent image which can only be seen at a certain angle. This technology uses the reflective angles of the light and is extremely difficult to duplicate. The use of similar latent images can also be found in other countries such as 2 pound coin in the UK. You can find more on how this technology works here.

    The Japanese coins, just like coins of many other countries, have unique designs and symbolisms. If you are simply visiting, they will surely take an important place in your coin collection!

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