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A Guide To Japanese Currency: Bills And Coins

A Guide To Japanese Currency: Bills And Coins

Translated by Lester Somera

Written by MATCHA

2020.06.02 Bookmark

This article contains information about the Japanese yen: bills and coins in circulation, how much they value, and other helpful facts about Japanese money.

The Types of Money Used in Japan

Japanese yen

You will need to use Japanese currency when traveling in Japan. This article will provide visitors with some basic information regarding the Japanese yen: denominations currently in use, typical exchange rates, and more.

Japan uses the Japanese yen, with the international symbol being ¥. Currently, there are 1000 yen, 2000 yen, 5000 yen and 10,000 yen banknotes in circulation. Coins come in one-yen, five-yen, 10-yen, 50-yen, 100-yen and 500-yen denominations.

Yen Exchange Rates

How much is your country's currency worth in yen? Look below for currency equivalent estimates (current as of June 2020).

Foreign Currency Value Value in Japanese Yen
1 US Dollar 107 yen
1 British Pound 134 yen
1 Australian Dollar 73 yen
1 Euro 121 yen
1 Taiwan New Dollar 3.66 yen
1 Chinese Yuan 15.21 yen
100 Korean Won 8.99 yen

Foreign Currency Exchange

A must for railway users! Introducing a convenient spot right in the station where you can get your hands on some Japanese yen.
There are around seven foreign currency exchange counters and ten ATMs at JR East Japan stations in the greater Tokyo area).
For more information, please visit this page.

Distinguishing Features of the Japanese Yen

Japanese banknotes and coins come with various distinct markings, so we have compiled a brief overview here for your reference.

The 10,000 Yen Bill

10000 yen bill

The front of the 10,000 yen bill is adorned by an image of the samurai Yukichi Fukuzawa, who was also an intellectual and an educator in the mid-to-late 1800s in Japan.

A 10,000 yen bill in your wallet will give you peace of mind during your trip. At most restaurants, this budget will comfortably let you eat and drink your fill.

The 5,000 Yen Bill

5000 yen bill

The 5,000 yen bill is of a violet hue and features Ichiyo Higuchi, Japan's first prominent female writer. She specialized in short stories and poetry.

On average, you can expect to spend about 5,000 yen per person when dining out at well-known restaurants and fashionable izakayas. If you want to have lunch at a high-class traditional Japanese restaurant or sushi restaurant, you can expect to spend between 3,000 to 5,000 yen.

The 2,000 Yen Bill

2000 yen bill

The design on the 2,000 yen bill features the Japanese literary classic "The Tales of the Genji" and its author, Murasaki Shikibu. Making up just around 0.9% of the bills in circulation in Japan, you will see this bill rarely, if at all. Be careful because it cannot be used in vending machines.

If you want to indulge yourself and splurge at lunch a little bit, 2,000 yen is just about right. A Tokyo Free Ticket (Japanese), available for 1,590 yen, is valid within the 23 wards of Tokyo and allows its holder unlimited travel on JR trains, subways and city buses for one day. You can buy one of these and still get some change back.

The 1,000 Yen Bill

1000 yen bill

The 1,000 yen bill features the bacteriologist Hideyo Noguchi on the front.

The average office worker will spend about 1,000 yen on lunch. Teishoku, or lunches sets, typically contain rice, a main dish, soup and similar menu items. Teishoku sets generally cost around 1,000 yen.

The 500 Yen Coin

500 yen coin

The 500 yen coin is actually the most recent yen coin to be minted in Japan. It is the largest of the yen coins, and you can feel its weight even in your wallet.

Most bento boxes sold at convenience stores are around 500 yen. Inputting the keywords "one coin" into a search engine will return an extensive list of places where you can eat lunch for a single 500 yen coin. This is a reasonable amount to spend for the thrifty traveler.

The 100 Yen Coin

100 yen coin

The 100 yen coin is the Japanese equivalent of the one-dollar bill. It is the most commonly used coin on a day-to-day basis.

At McDonald's, items on the "100 Yen Mac" menu, such as regular hamburgers, soft serve ice cream, and small drinks, can be purchased with a 100-yen coin. Items priced at 100 yen line the shelves at 100- yen stores: food, clothing, household goods and more. These stores are quite popular.

The 50 Yen Coin

50 yen coin

The chrysanthemum, cultivated for its appeal as a decorative flower, can be seen on the 50 yen coin. When first released, 50 yen coins lacked holes in the middle. However, to make it easier to distinguish them from 100 yen coins at a glance, holes were incorporated into the design.

Recently the price of a stamp has risen from 50 yen to 52 yen, but you can send a postcard anywhere in Japan with one. If you would like to send a postcard internationally, it costs 70 yen via airmail and 60 yen via surface mail. How about memorializing your trip by sending a postcard to your friends and family abroad?

The 10 Yen Coin

10 yen coin

The design of the Phoenix Hall at Byodouin Temple in Kyoto, which is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is featured on the bronze 10 yen coin.

You can use 10 yen coins at public pay phones, which only accept 10 yen and 100 yen coins. With a 10 yen coin, you can get about 60 seconds of talk time during the day and about 80 seconds of talk time at night. You can also charge an IC card with 10 yen coins, use them at vending machines, and more. They are a very easy-to-use coin.

The Five Yen Coin

5 yen coin

Like the 50 yen coin, the design of the five yen coin has a hole in the center. The words in Japanese for "five yen" and for "destiny" are both pronounced as "go en," so five yen coins are said to be lucky.

When visiting a temple or shrine in Japan, it is custom to make an offering using the five yen coin due to this.

The One Yen Coin

1 yen coin

The one yen coin is made of aluminum and is extremely light, weighing in at just one gram. It is said that producing a one yen coin costs three yen. There is a saying in Japan that "he who laughs at one yen will weep at one yen," meaning that all money has value, even something as small as a one yen coin.

One yen coins cannot usually be used at vending machines, ticket machines, and other automatic payment machines. However, feel free to use one yens when you are shopping at a store.

That concludes our feature about the Japanese yen. We hope you found it useful. Enjoy shopping in Japan!

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The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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