Japan, 5 yen, 1974

Hot on the heels of my last post, I bring you this special update. It’s not often when I find a foreign coin in the wild, but last Tuesday was one of those lucky days. I was at Target, and I spotted a coin on the floor. At first I mistook it for a bus token, but it turned out to be one of these:

Japan, 5 yen, Showa year 49 (1974) (KM #???)

Japan uses a traditional system for dating their coins. Instead of the Gregorian calendar date, which the Japanese are gradually using anyway, their coins follow the ancient precedent of bearing the year since the beginning of the current emperor’s reign. This coin was minted during the 49th year of Emperor Showa, also known as Hirohito.

Also of note, this coin type has been in production since 1949, without a design or composition change. That makes this coin type one of the oldest currently used coin types, having been in continuous production for over 60 years! With a mintage in the hundreds of millions every year (a peak of 950,000,000 in 1974), it is also one of the most common world coins by mintage. By the way, it is worth USD $0.06.

Metal Brass
Weight 3.75 g
Diameter 22 mm
Thickness 1.5 mm
Shape Round with a hole
Orientation Medal alignment


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