The national flag of Japan is officially called “Nisshoki” which means “Flag of the Sun symbol”, although colloquially it is known as “Hinomaru” which means “Circle of the Sun” and is the most important symbol of Japan. The exact origins of the Nisshoki are unknown, but there are historical data from the year 607 where the Emperor of China communicated with Japan calling it “The country of the Rising Sun.”
Later, during Mongolia’s invasion of Japan in the 13th century, a Buddhist monk named Nichiren gave the shogun a flag to carry in battle and it was very similar to the Nisshoki.
Later, at the beginning of the Edo period, the representative Red circle of the current flag was used in fan designs and different paintings. In 1854 the shogun ordered all merchant ships in Japan to use the Nisshoki flag to differentiate Japanese from foreign ships. Meiji the country was forced to design state symbols for the first time, such as: the national flag, the national anthem and the imperial emblem. Therefore, after going through extensive review, the Nisshoki became the de facto national flag in Japan.
During the Meiji period to the end of the era Showa (1864-1945), the Nisshoki was widely used for multiple purposes, but primarily to unify Japan and represent the honor and joy of being Japanese. In those days it was very common for all the families of the country to raise the flag during festivities or important events. The Nisshoki is used as moral support in the “Hachimaki”, a bandana that is tied in the forehead and that, generally, contains written messages like “Safe victory”, “Japan”, “Number 1” and other motivational phrases.
In 1945, after the surrender of Japan, the Allied forces occupied the entire island until 1952. During this period, the use of the Japanese flag in any of its forms was highly restricted.
It was later allowed to be used in buildings related to the national government. During the occupation period, US forces began a campaign to change the image of the Japanese on their flag to a negative image.
Finally, in 1949, all restrictions were lifted and anyone, anywhere, can raise the flag of Japan. After the war in Japan the use of the flag was greatly reduced, but most schools hoist the Nisshoki every morning.
Also, the flag was the symbol of the Olympics held in Japan in 1964. After many years, since its de facto adoption, in 1999 the first official law was passed that establishes that the flag of Japan is the Nisshoki and the national anthem is the “Kimi ga yo”. The white background color symbolizes the purity, honesty and integrity of the people of Japan. The color red is said to represent the main goddess of Japanese mythology, the sun goddess Amaterasu.
His Majesty The Emperor of Japan is said to be a direct descendant of the Sun goddess. Today the Nisshoki is recognized worldwide as the official flag of Japan, and is respected for its importance to the Japanese people.