Japanese National Symbols

Interested in Japanese culture? Want to learn about Japan’s most important national symbols? Read on to get introduced to some of the most important Japanese national symbols.

The Japanese are experts at symbolic art. Today this form of art is widely appreciated all around the world in the form of Japanese kanji symbols. The interesting thing is that many of the designs that are gaining popularity in today’s times actually date back to centuries ago. Amongst the many different symbols of Japan are the national symbols that hold great significance for the entire country.

Japanese Hinomaru Symbol

The most prominent of the national symbols of Japan is the large red disc on a white background that is featured on the national flag of the country. Most of us are aware that Japan is considered to be the land of the rising sun which is precisely what the flag seems to symbolize. The flag commonly goes by the name of Hinomaru which translates as red disc.

History reveals that this national symbol appeared on the military banners that the Japanese used during the 15th and 16th centuries. The symbol was also adopted for use in the civil ensign during the Meiji restoration. But it wasn’t until the year before the millennium that the red disc was officially proclaimed as the national flag by law.

The red disc has served as the template for producing other variations of the flag for public and private use. The Hinomaru is also considered to be a controversial symbol due to the militaristic past of the country and was actually banned for a brief period of time. Today however it exists as the primary national symbol of Japan.

Privy Seal of Japan

Another national symbol of Japan is that which is known as the Privy Seal of Japan. It is meant to be the official seal of the emperor of Japan. The seal is square in shape and has the text written in the archaic script. Two lines of vertical writing run across the square box. The right hand side reads Tenno whereas the left hand side says Gyoji.

The seal can be found printed on appointment documents. It is most commonly found on proclamation sentences of law, treaties, government ordinances, ambassador’s credentials, instruments of ratification and other official documents.

The seal was originally made from copper during the Nara period but was later changed to gold. When the pure gold seal of today is not in use it is kept safely inside a leather bag. There is a special ink that is to be used with the seal. There is a severe penalty for illegally reproducing the seal in Japan.

The State Seal of Japan is yet another national symbol which serves as the official seal of the state. It is in cubic form with the characters Great Japan Nation Seal inscribed in it using the archaic script. The maker of this seal is the same man who was commissioned to make the Privy Seal of Japan. Just like the above mentioned seal it is made from pure gold and is kept in a leather bag when not in use. The same laws apply for illegal reproduction of the seal.

Readers may also be interested in learning more about Japanese earth symbols.