One-yen coin (一円硬貨)

The one-yen coin is a subsidiary coin issued by the Japanese government. It is called 'ichi en koka' or 'ichi en dama' in Japanese. It has the highest mintage of any current coin.

On the head side are the designs for 'Japan', 'one yen' (both in kanji) and a sapling, while on the tail side is the number 'one' and the year of mintage.

In 1954, one year before it was issued, designs for this one-yen coin and (former) 50-yen coin were sought from the public for the first time after the war. During the 40-day period of public appeal, there were 2,581 applications for the one-yen coin alone. The sapling on the head side was designed by Masami NAKAMURA who lived in Kyoto Prefecture at the time, and the number '1' on the tail side was designed by Toshio TAKASHIMA who lived in Osaka Prefecture at the time.

There was no specific model for the sapling design, instead the concept is that, because there is no particular model, it can be related to any tree.

Before the consumption tax was introduced, the coins were sparsely used in supermarkets etc., however, after the tax was introduced, the supply significantly increased as well as that of five-yen coins, so they began to be minted in high volume especially during the Heisei period. Since 1997, when the consumption tax was increased from 3% to 5%, however, their need has decreased and so has their mintage. Especially in 2001, only about 8 million coins were minted, so coins manufactured in that year are traded at relatively high prices (compared to their face value) in old coin shops etc.

It is well known that the cost to mint a one-yen coin is higher than one yen, and the more they mint, the more money they lose.

The cost of the raw material, aluminum, alone is about 0.7 yen, and it is said that the cost is around 1.6 - 1.8 yen to finish manufacturing a one-yen coin. Currently, it is said the cost to mint one coin is two yen.


1870: Former one-yen silver coin was issued.

1871: Former one-yen gold coin (standard gold coin) was issued.

1874: New one-yen silver coin was issued.

1948: One-yen brass coin was issued. This one-yen brass coin was issued after the war, but because there was a risk that the coins may be melted due to an increase in price for the raw metal, production was ceased.

1955: Current one-yen aluminum coin was issued.

1968: Issuance was stopped for one year. Therefore, there are no one-yen coins on which 'Showa 43' is incused.