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Japan Issues Its First Colorized Coin
Japan's first colored coins commemorate the 5th Winter Asian Games. They will be available shortly before the Games begin in Aomori on February 1, 2003. Aomori, literally "blue-green forest," was named for the year-round green woods that originally covered the area.

The coin features red apples plus the red, white and blue official emblem of the Games. Production of Aomori apples started from just three trees in 1875. Now, they pride themselves on being the largest apple producing area in Japan, and they claim to produce the highest quality apples in the world.

The other side pictures a downhill skier and a speed skater. Approximately 1,200 athletes and officials from some 30 countries and regions will participate in 54 sporting events including Alpine Skiing, Cross-country Skiing, Ski Jumping, Snowboarding, Speed Skating, Figure Skating, Ice Hockey, and Curling.

The 5th Winter Asian Games 1,000 Yen coin is 1 troy oz. 999 fine silver Proof quality, packaged in a plastic case accompanied by an illustrated leaflet with a certificate of authenticity. Mintage is limited to 50,000 pieces. The Mint Bureau, Ministry of Finance, Japan indicates that this "1,000 yen silver coin is what we call a 'Premium coin' which is a commemorative coin whose production cost exceeds its face value and is sold by the government at a price above its face value." Official American distributor PandaAmerica offers them at $99 each.

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