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History of Japan
Japan
Flags

Why did Japan pick a rising sun for the flag?

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August 14, 2009 9:26PM

They picked a rising sun for the flag because Japan is the easternmost country in the world, and the sun rises in the east. The exact origin of the flag "Hinomaru" is unknown. However, historically, the sun has had a religious connotation in Japan, and the rising sun has had an important symbolic meaning. For example, in 607, Prince Shotoku sent a letter that began with "from the emperor of the rising sun" to Emperor Yang of Sui. One legend related to the national flag is attributed to Buddhist priest Nichiren. During a Mongolian invasion into Japan during the 13th century, Nichiren gave a sun banner to the shogun to carry into battle. One of Japan's oldest known flags is housed at the Unpo-ji temple in Yamanashi Prefecture. A legend states that the flag was given by Emperor Reizei to Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, and was treated as the family treasure by the Takeda clan. However, the historical accuracy of this account is questionable. The earliest recorded flags in Japan date from the unification period. The flags belonged to each Daimyo, and were used mostly in battle. Most of the flags were long banners, and were usually charged with the mon of the Daimyo. Members of the same family, such as a son, father and a brother, had different flags to carry to battle. The flags served for identification, and were displayed by soldiers on their backs and also on their horses. Generals also had their own flags, but most of these were square in shape. The Hinomaru was the legal national flag from 1870 until 1885. After the Meiji Restoration, the Hinomaru was the de facto national flag with no law in place.