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.