The Japan Mint has released the final 2012 issue from its multi-year series of coins commemorating each of the nation’s 47 prefectures.
The colorized Proof .999 fine silver 1,000-yen coin celebrating Hyogo, the 25th prefecture honored in the series, is now available.
Companion circulating ringed-bimetallic 500-yen coins commemorating Hyogo, as well as those for the prefectures of Tochigi and Oita, are also now available.
The 1,000-yen coins for Tochigi and Oita were released in late 2012.
The program began in 2008 and is scheduled to run through 2016.
Each 500-yen coin (with a face value worth about $5.04 U.S.) is composed of 75 percent copper and 12.5 percent each of zinc and nickel. Each weighs 7.1 grams, measures 26.5 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage of about 1.8 million coins per prefecture.
The 1,000-yen coins weigh 31.1 grams, measure 40 millimeters in diameter and have a mintage limit of 100,000 pieces per prefecture.
Separate reverse designs for the 500- and 1,000-yen coins are common to each denomination and used throughout the series. The common 500-yen reverse shows an unspecified historic Japanese coin, surrounded by English and Japanese inscriptions indicating the name of the program and the denomination. The standard reverse of the colorful 1,000-yen coins shows snow crystals, the Moon and cherry blossoms.
The oriental stork and Himeji Castle feature on the obverse of the silver coin for Hyogo Prefecture.
Oriental storks became extinct in Japan in 1986, but captive breeding (from birds provided by Russia) has been successful recently.
Himeji Castle was built in 1333 as a fort, and was expanded multiple times. The castle’s shape, being covered with white plaster tiles, is said to resemble a heron taking flight.
For the 500-yen coin from Hyogo, a pair of storks form the design.
Other circulating coins
The circulating 2012 500-yen coins debuted in February 2013.
Tochigi’s coin features the Sleeping Cat (Nemuri Neko) and sparrows, two carved sides of a beam at the entrance to a shrine inside the Nikko Toshogu Shrine.
Oita’s 500-yen coin depicts the Usuki Stone Buddha, from a series of stone sculptures made from the late 11th to 12th centuries.
Two distributors offer the coins to American collectors.
The Hyogo silver 1,000-yen coin (released in Japan in late January) is now available from PandaAmerica for $109 plus $7 shipping.
Euro Collections International offers Proof examples of the various 500-yen coins (which have a mintage limit of 30,000 per design) for $49.95 each.