Monday, June 24, 2013

Coins to jingle in your pocket
Our largest coin is the 500-yen piece, worth about $6 last time I looked, which makes it pretty much the highest denomination coin circulated anywhere in the world. It's mostly copper and is about the size of the volume knob on an amplifier. The design is a tree.

(You should know that yen is always pronounced "en" and that it's always singular--no "ens".)

Then there's the copper/nickel 100-yen coin, which might buy you a small beer in a hole in the wall. It's decorated with cherry blossoms.

The 50-yen copper coin, decorated with a bouquet of chrysanthemums, has a hole it it, making it easy to identify in the dark (but it doesn't help that the 5 yen coin of exactly the same dimensions also has a hole in it).

The 10-yen copper coin celebrates a temple in Kyoto, which was the capital of Japan before Tokyo took that function over.

As I say, the 5-yen brass coin also has a hole in it, thanks very much. It shows rice growing.

Lastly there's the 1-yen coin, which is made of aluminum and so light it floats. (It must cost more to make them than it's worth, but it's the yen after all, so it survives. Years ago the yen coin used to be gold, then silver, but now it is so nearly a bother than it is considered an insult to pay anyone back with a sack of yen coins. 

- Marcus Amnity 

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