Japanese Money

About Japanese Money

PLEASE NOTE: This page was created in 2000. The images need updating to the new paper money.

Money.  Every country has it peculiarities.  In America, for example, why is the nickel twice as big as the dime, but half the value?  Some coins in Japan have holes in them.   Go here to read some thoughts about why this is so .


1 yen coin
5 yen coin
10 yen coin
50 yen coin
100 yen coin
500 yen coin
1,000 yen note
2,000 yen note (new for the year 2000)
5,000 yen note
10,000 yen note

  • Yen in Japanese is pronounced EN.

  • All coins are dated.

  • VERY roughly, 100 yen = $1 (US)

MOOD SETTING: I magine the Disney’s Japanese Uncle Scrooge saying, “GWA GWA” while diving into a mound of 500 yen coins

1 yen coin
一円 ichi en

Someone once told me the ichi en coin is the only coin in the world that can float on water.  If you have one, try it! If not you now have a cultural reason for visiting Japan.

5 yen coin
五円 go en

This bronzed colored coin has a hole in the middle for no apparent reason. The plant seen on the coin is rice.

10 yen coin
十円 juu en

One side has a picture of a temple in Kyoto called Byodouin.  The other side has a big 10 surrounded by a plant which no one I asked could identify. sorry, ne.

50 yen coin
五十円 go juu en

This is the second coin to have a hole in the middle for no apparent reason. The flower on the back is Kiku (chrysanthemum).  The coin is silver in color.

100 yen coin
百円 hyaku en

One side has Sakura (cherry) blossoms.  The other side has a big “100” and the date.

500 yen coin
五百円 go hyaku en

The fanciest of the coins, the 500 yen coin is also the biggest of the 6 coins.

You will notice a big white egg in the middle of most of the money.  This egg when held to a light reveals a person’s face to authenticate the bill. Please wait a moment while the graphics load.

1,000 yen note
千円 sen en

The face on this note is Natsume Soseki. The back has 2 Tsuru (Cranes) dancing (my interpretation 🙂 ).

Natsume Soseki was a very famous writer during the Meiji period.  His most famous book is entitled, I am a Cat. ( Wagahai wa neko de aru ) It is about a cat who spends his time making comments on the way the humans run things.  I think this is mandatory reading in Japanese schools.

2,000 yen note
二千円 ni sen en

(New for the year 2000)

This note was made specially for the new year.  The picture on the front is ‘shurei no mon’ (the Gate of Shurei) in Okinawa.  The back has a scene from ‘ Genji Monogatari ‘ (the Tale of Genji).

To the lower right (bottom) is a portrait of the writer, Murasaki Shikibu. She lived in Japan 1000 years ago!

5,000 yen note
五千円 go sen en

Nitobe Inazou’s face graces the front.  And Mount Fuji is on the back. Every year thousands scramble to climb this active volcano.  Interesting.

Nitobe Inazou established a woman’s university in Tokyo.

10,000 yen note
一万円 ichi man en

This is, as far as I know, the biggest (in value & is actually slightly longer than all other bills).

Fukuzawa Yukichi graces this bill.

The birds are kiji (pheasant)

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