History of the flag of Japan

Japan's flag

The flag of Japan was officially adopted on February 27, 1870. Its name is Nisshōki (日 章 旗) or Hinomaru (日 の 丸), which means “Circle of the sun”. The Japanese flag consists of a red circle in the center of a white rectangle.


Previous version of the flag

The flag of Japan has had some variants, mainly versions that include the sun’s rays. The flag of the rising sun was used as a naval ensign. This consists of a disk of the sun surrounded by sixteen rays of the sun.

Japan's flag

The proportions of the rectangle are 2: 3, although in its original version they were 7:10. The white flag with the red circumference in the center symbolizes the “Land of the rising sun”. It was believed that it was the origin of the sun because it was in the extreme east of Asia.

Japan has been associated with the symbol of the sun since the 7th century, and although the exact origin of the flag is not known, most scholars believe it is due to the country’s nickname. Other theorists include a representation of the sun goddess Amaterasu. It is said that the imperial family of Japan descended from her. A flag with the sun was used by a shogun in the 18th century, when the Japanese defended themselves against the invasion of the Mongols.

Stylized flag of Japan

The Hinomaru fIt was made official in 1870 as a merchant’s flag, being the first national flag adopted by Japan from 1870 to 1885, when the flag became de facto but not legal. Its use was restricted during the occupation of Japan after World War II, until 1947 (coincidentally the year of the signing of Japan’s constitution), when the restrictions were lifted. In 1999 a law passed declaring the Hinomaru to be the official flag of Japan.