Japanese coins identify - how to read

Before the reform of 1870, Japanese coins not dated.
Since 1870, the date is determined by the era (period, epoch) that coincides with the period of the emperor's reign and the year of the era (the number of years from the emperor's reign began). To determine the year of coin issue, the current year of the era should be added to the year of the era's beginning.


Era designation on Japanese coins

digit   1868-1912   Era Maidzy, imperator Matzushito
digit1912-1926Era Taisho, imperator Yoshihito
digit1926-1989Era Showa, imperator Hirohito
digitfrom 1989Era Haisay, imperator Akihito


Japanese numeral system

Japanese digits

The numbers in the Japanese system of calculus are formed from digits, just as we have, according to the scheme of discharges. The difference is that in Japanese numbers the bit depth is underlined by an additional digit. For example, the number 48 consists of three Japanese digits - 4, 10, and 8.
Therefore, for the number "100" there is also a special designation, and for example, the number 256 is written as 2-100-5-10-6. But, for the designation of dates on coins, it doesn’t matter - it’s hard to imagine that some emperor could rule for more than 99 years ...


Dating of Japanese coins

How to read inscriptions on Japanese coins

The inscription containing the dating of the coin consists of the following parts:
1. Name of period - two symbols.
2. Year of current period (era) - one, two ore three symbols.
3. Hieroglyph "Year" - one symbol.

For example - 5 yen 2013.

Japaneise dating

 Inscription  below from the left to the right:
Heisei period 2 10 5 Year

It's mean - 25 years from beginning of Heisei period (1989) = 2013 (1989+25-1). Not 2014 (1989+25), because 1989 is the first year, not zero.

Attention - on the Japanese coins before 1948 and on the some later coins (for example 100 yen 1957-1958), the date should be read from right to left.

japanese silver coin 100 yen 1957

The direction of reading is not specifically indicated, it must be understood logically. For example, on the same 100 yen a year can not be 23, only 32, because first 100 yen coins have been minted in 32 year.


See also:
Japan old coins (till 1948)
Japan modern coins