Introduction to
Japanese Orders & Medals
The world of Japanese medals and badges is vast, and an introduction page certainly won't do the
topic justice. However, that being said, here are a few words about the medals.

Generally speaking, medals can be divided into four main categories: orders, campaign (war)
medals, commemorative medals, and merit medals. All of these fall under the jurisdiction of the
Japanese Decorations Bureau (賞勲局).

Badges cannot be so easily categorized, but two main categories might be official badges (i.e.,
proficiency badges) and association badges.

Here is a quick breakdown of the major dates in the history of Japanese medals and orders:

Meiji 8 [1875]: The forerunner of the Order of the Rising Sun established

Meiji 9 [1876]: Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum established

Meiji 14 [1881] December: Merit Medal established (only the crimson, green, and blue ribbons). The
other colored ribbons came at different dates: yellow (1887), dark blue (1919), purple (1955).

Meiji 21 [1888]: The Orders of the Sacred Treasure and Sacred Crown established

Meiji 23 [1890]: The Order of the Golden Kite established

Showa 12 [1937]: The Order of Culture established

Showa 21 [1946]: Suspension of all decorations except for some posthumous awards.

Showa 28 (July) [1953]: Some awards given for those who helped during a typhoon that hit western

Showa 38 [1963]: The award system is fully reinstated.

Heisei 15 [2003]: The Order system restructured. The numbered class is eliminated and the
standards for receiving awards adjusted. The Merit Medals were under danger of being
discontinued, but the council decided to maintain them for the time being.

Note that there have been no official campaign or commemorative medals made after 1945. The
last medal approved was the Great East Asia War Medal in 1944.