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Photo of modern 1-yen coin, both sides.

The 1-yen coin is made of aluminum, with a tree design.  Our one-cent coin was once made of aluminum, but you've probably never seen one.  Although a million and a half were made in 1973 (dated 1974), they were recalled and melted because they didn't work well in vending machines.

5-yen coin

The 5-yen coin is made of brass, and shows an ear of rice, a gear, and water.  Notice that it has a hole in the middle, like the ancient Japanese coins that were modeled after Chinese currency.  Why?  It makes them harder to counterfeit (make fake copies).  It also saves metal and makes it easier to tell different denominations apart.


10-yen coin with temple and one-cent coin with Lincoln Memorial

The 10-yen coin is bronze, with a Japanese temple on it.  A temple is a place where people worship.  The Lincoln Memorial, which is on the back of our pennies, is built in the style of an ancient Greek temple.

50-yen coin with flower and dime with branches

The 50-yen coin is made of copper mixed with nickel and shows a chrysanthemum flower.  The chrysanthemum is the national flower of Japan and the symbol of the ruling family—the Emperor and his relatives.  Some American coins use olive branches, which are a symbol of peace.


100-yen coin and golden dollar.

The 100-yen coin is made of cupronickel, and shows a design of cherry blossoms.  100 cents in American money is equal to one dollar—either a dollar coin or a dollar bill—but there is no similar name in Japan for a group of 100 yen.

500-yen coin

The 500-yen coin is made of nickel and brass.  It shows a Paulownia plant and the words "Country of Japan" in Japanese at the top.

This coin not only has a beautiful plant image on one side, but it has a special feature on the other.  The zeros are full of lines with pictures inside them that you can't see unless you tilt the coin in the light.  It's hard to copy these coins because it takes the newest machines to make them.  This coin is the highest in face value (denomination).


What is America's highest coin denomination?
The golden dollar is the highest denomination you're likely to see in your change.  But we also make coins that people collect marked with values of five dollars, ten dollars, and higher.

Twenty-dollar gold coin

Commemorative Coins

Photo of American Bay Bridge and Japanese Seto Bridge commemorative coins

Commemorative coins show a special person, place, or event, and are mostly made to be collected.

The Japanese Mint produces beautiful commemorative coins.  Gold commemoratives usually cost more than their gold is worth.  The 1988 500-yen commemorative on the right honors the opening of the Seto Bridge, the longest double-deck bridge in the world.  The bridge links the islands of Honshu and Shikoku.

This silver half dollar from America on the left marks the opening of the famous Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland.  It was struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1936, when the bridge opened.

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