Introduction to
Japanese Orders & Medals
The world of Japanese medals and badges is vast, and an introduction page certainly won't do
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
Japan Medals and Awards Department.

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

The awarding of medals is a complex topic. I hope to address those points as they arise on the
various pages on this site.

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

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 medal awards except for some posthumous instances.

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

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.