The Order of the Precious Crown
寶冠章
(Houkanshou)
The Precious Crown award (once commonly called the Sacred Crown) was established in 1888. This award, quite rare in
all its classes, was made exclusively for women.  Originally there were only 5 classes, but in 1896 the 6th through 8th
classes were established for nurses, teachers, and other women worthy of merit.  See
HERE for different examples of who
received the different classes. And see
HERE for page 2 of the Sacred Crown.

Each class has its unique suspension design, and they are as follows:

1st Class: Paulonia
2nd Class: Peony
3rd Class: Moth (or sometimes called Butterfly)
4th Class: Wisteria
5th Class: Apricot
6th Class: Waves (or sometimes called Ripple)
The 7th and 8th Classes have no suspension. However, the 7th is usually called the Gold Medal (because of the partial
gold gilt) and the 8th the Silver.

In 2003 the numbered classes were abolished. There are currently only 6 different medals. See
the Japan Mint page for
details. In addition, since women can now receive the Sacred Treasure Award, this order presently is conferred on women
in the Imperial Family or female foreign dignitaries (especially nobility).

The first commoners to receive this award were two Red Cross nurses who helped in the First Sino-Japanese War
(1894-5).  They both received the 7th Class. Their names are Takayama Mitsu and Niijima Yae.

On the 1st Class badge there are 108 pearls and on the smaller medal there are 209. Up to 1988, according to the
Japanese Decorations Bureau, only naturally cultured pearls were ever used on these medals. (I am not sure if this is still
the case.)
6th Class
7th Class
8th Class
8th Class
8th Class
2nd Class
7th Class
The following are detailed illustrations from a 1934 book on medals. These are not great substitutes for actual
photos, but they may be useful in determining the differences in the classes.
You can see the 1st Class badge illustrations
HERE.
2nd Class
3rd Class
4th Class
5th Class
6th Class
7th Class
8th Class
5th Class
Newer cases (post-war) have a smooth purple silk interior,
but pre-war examples have a purple velvet material.
6th Class
4th Class
2nd Class award document. Dated Showa 61 [1986].
Here is an example of an earlier case. The
inscription style is different.
6th Class
There is a 'ME' hallmark on the reverse, but I do not know what it
signifies.
from Wikipedia
4th Class Order of the Precious Crown

VOLUME 1 (12 issues and 1 supplement):
1200 yen

See individual issue details HERE
A few words about the Order of the Precious Crown
(Information  from the Nakano Library online resource)
The first 5 classes of the Order of the Precious Crown (sometimes translated as the 'Sacred Crown')
were instituted in 1888 and the 6th through the 8th classes were added in 1896. In 2003 the class
system was changed, so the following information refers to pre-2003 awards.

You can read about the differences in the designs of the different classes on the Precious Crown
page, but here I'd like to show you a few examples of what kind of person would receive each class of
medal.

1st Class (Grand Cordon): Imperial princesses and foreign royal family members. A Japanese
Imperial Princess (daughters and sisters of the Emperor) would get this medal on her 15th birthday.
For other women who married into the Imperial family, they would get this medal upon marriage. This
includes Queen Consorts.

The first Grand Cordon awarded was on November 1, 1888 and given to Princess Tadako Arisugawa,
whose
husband was the uncle of Emperor Meiji. Both the birth mothers of the Meiji and Taisho
Emperors also were awarded the Grand Cordon.

The most recent example is Princess Masako, who is married to the current (as of 2009) Crown
Prince. Since she was a commoner before her marriage, she got the medal the day of her wedding.

No Grand Cordon has been awarded since the 2003 revisions. (I am writing this in 2009.)

2nd Class: Queens Regnant received this on their 15th birthdays. Imperial princesses received this
on the day of their wedding ceremonies. In addition, female Diet members have been awarded this
class.

3rd Class: Examples of people who received this class: Diet members, national and private university
presidents (headmistresses), private university professors, family court judges, vocational school
presidents

4th Class: Examples of people who received this class: vocational school presidents, artists, poets,
actresses, singers,
Ryoukyoku performers.

5th Class: Examples of people who received this class: vocational school presidents, performers,
hospital nurse staff heads

6th Class: Examples of people who received this class: vocational school presidents, hospital nurse
staff heads, regional government group members, designers

7th Class: Examples of people who received this class: primary school presidents, public health
nurses

8th Class: Examples of people who received this class: airline stewardesses who helped
passengers. One famous example is the
Himeyuri students (Lily Corps), most of whom were given
their awards post-humously.