¥ - This is the sign for the Japanese monetary unit. This symbol is most widley used outside of Japan (I think).

In Japan, Japanese speakers pronounce it as "en. Additionaly, the sign appears differently as well. Like this:

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Yeah, this node was essentially an excuse to play with ascii art
The yen symbol. (Currency of Japan).
Big chunky version: ¥

The symbol for the yen monetary unit as written in Japanese (and pronounced "en"), or the symbol for the yuan renminbi monetary unit as used in China. In Japanese, the Kanji is used instead. The Kanji literally means "round," "circle," or "yen" (!) in English according to JDIC.

The Kanji character is Unicode character number 0x5186, and can be produced with 円 in HTML. No shorthand HTML entity for the Kanji is available to Westerners, though: ¥ resolves to ¥.

Although China and Japan both use ¥ for their currency symbol, the han character for the renminbi currency 元 (yuan) is wholly unrelated to the Japanese 円 (yen) character. Also, In Microsoft's Japanese OSes, the backslash is rendered as the yen currency symbol under its default Shift-JIS encoding. (ex: c:¥>)

The modern Japanese currency was established in 1871 (Meiji 4). The idea for chosing 円 (which means circle) as the national currency came about from the fact that people often made a circle out of their thumb and index finger to represent money, hence it would be best for public acceptance. One yen (worth slightly less than a US cent) is equivalent to 100 sen. Sen coins are no longer made in Japan, but the unit is still used when talking about exchange rates, nowadays. Yen is pronounced as "en", but is still spelled with a "y". This is due to the fact that the Japanese writing system used to include the ye characters (ゑ, ヱ) in the past. The e characters (え, エ) has since replaced the ye characters in hiragana and katakana after the latter phoneme died from the language.

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