The View from Japan
Torii gate




Japanese money is easy to figure out, since all denominations of bills and coins (except for the 5 yen coin, a small bronze coin with a hole in it) display their values in Arabic numerals. (This makes them easier to understand than American coins, I might add.)

You may have read that 1 yen equals 100 sen. However, unless you follow the Japanese stock market, this fact is no longer relevant. The yen lost so much value after the war that all coins of less than one yen in value ceased to be minted. (Long ago, in fact, 1 sen equaled 100 mon...)

They’re On the Money

Here is some information about the pictures on Japans paper currency, with names given in Japanese order, family name first:

¥1000 (old)

Natsume Sôseki (1867-1916)

novelist, I Am a Cat

¥1000 (new)

Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928)



¥2000 Front: the Shurei-no-mon gate, Okinawa

Back: part of the Tales of Genji picture scroll; author Murasaki Shikibu (c. 973-1016) is pictured off to the right (indicated by arrow)

back of 2000 yen note


¥5000 (old)

Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933)

scholar, agricultural administration and history


¥5000 (new)

Ichiyo Higuchi (1872-1896)




Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901)

scholar, student of Western learning


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Copyright 2004 This page last updated June 18, 2005 . E-mail Tim