The first Japanese one yen coin was minted in 1870. Its obverse featured a dragon with a circular inscription around. The reverse had a radiant sun surrounded by a wreath, with chrysanthemum emblem (a symbol of theJapanese Imperial Family) flanked by floral patterns above. Large silver one yen coins were issued between 1870 and 1914, supplemented by small gold one yen coins issued between 1871 and 1880 (plus a special collector's issue from 1892). One yen silver coins minted after Japan adopted the gold standard (gold based currency) in 1897 were not issued for domestic use, but for use in Japanese Taiwan and foreign trade.
During 1870, the Empire of Japan issued the first 1 yen coin. It had a mass of 26.9568 grams and a diameter of 38.5 millimeters, having been the heaviest 1 yen coin ever issued. The coin was composed of .900 fine silver. On its obverse was a sun withbranches, and on its reverse a Japanese dragon is displayed along with the year written in Japanese (年 三 治 明), the value (圓 一), and the words "本 日 大". These coins were only minted during 1870, but the design of the reverse was eventually reused by later silver 1 yen coins.
In 1874, during the circulation of the gold 1 yen coin, the Empire of Japan issued another 1 yen coin, which circulated alongside it in Imperial Japan. This coin had a mass of 26.96 grams and a diameter of 38.6 millimeters, being nearly equal in size to the first 1 yen coin. Also similar to the first coin was the presence of silver, which remained at .900 fineness. On the obverse was the familiar Japanese dragon from the first 1 yen coin, along with the year, the value, the silver content, and the recurring text, "大日本". The reverse displayed the value written in Japanese surrounded by a wreath and the Imperial Seal of Japan. These coins were minted up until 1912 and then again in 1914.
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