The Meaning and History of The Japanese Flag

  • I am sure many people all around can recognize the Japanese flag. It is a simplistic white flag with a red disc in the middle. This red round disc in the center representing the rising sun in the east, and because of that Japan is often called the “land of the rising sun”.

    Japanese flag


    Red sun disc represents the goddess Amaterasu which is considered a mythical founder of Japan and the ancestor of its emperors. White color represents honesty and integrity of Japanese people. Japanese flag is also called Nisshoki (sun-mark flag) or Hinomaru (sun disc).

    According to tradition and history goddess Amaterasu founded Japan and its nation 2,700 years ago. It is also believed that this goddess is the ancestor of the first Japanese emperor. So that is why emperor is known by the name “son of the sun”, and Japan is called “the land of the rising sun”. The old recordings says that this flag was first used by the emperor Mommu who used a flag representing the sun in the court in year 701. A sun flag was also used by shoguns in 13th century , when the Japanese fought against the Mongolian invasion.

    Japanese fleet of ships, 1594


    The Hinomaru flag was first adopted and became official in 1870s as a merchants’ flag. However, it was only in 1999 that Nisshoki flag became the official flag of Japan.

    Flag of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force


    Japan has many variations of the flags. Some of them belong to the Japanese maritime forces, Japanese self-defense army forces, and Japanese emperor family.
    One of the most famous versions was the one that included sun in the center and the rays of the sun. Bangladesh flag is similar to Japanese one, with a red disc and a green background. Palau flag is also similar to the Japanese one, maybe because Palau was ruled by Japan from 1914 to 1944.

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