|Order of the Rising Sun
1st & 2nd Classes
The Rising Sun award was the first of Japan's official orders, established in 1875. It has nine
classes, the highest being the 1st Class Rising Sun Order of the Paulonia Flowers. After that
award, there are 8 classes that are not only designated by a number but also by a name. So
oftentimes, on award documents, for example, the number of the class will not be indicated but
the name of the award will be. Here are the names in English:
1st Class Large Ribbon Award
2nd Class Heavy Light Award
3rd Class Medium Ribbon Award
4th Class Small Ribbon Award
5th Class Two Lights Rising Sun Award ('Two Lights': i.e., gold and silver plating)
6th Class One Light Rising Sun Award ('One Light': i.e., only silver plating)
7th Class Green Paulonia Leaves Award
8th Class White Paulonia Leaves Award
Note that these are literal translations. I haven't checked to see if they are the official English
From 1967 to 1987 only 14 Order of the Paulonia Flowers were awarded.
Women do not receive this award. The corresponding medal for women is the Order of the
In 2003 the numbered classes were abolished. There are currently only 6 different medals. See
the Japan Mint page for details.
From a 1934 medal book
Early 1st Class award hand-signed by the Meiji Emperor.
Dated Meiji 13  June 7
Late Meiji 1st Class award hand-signed by the Meiji
Emperor. Dated Meiji 39  April 1.
Order of the Rising Sun 2nd Class medal and breast star.