The current Order and Decorations of Japan, along with a little old and some new history on the different Orders.
Supreme Orders of the Chrysanthemum
The Supreme Orders of the Chrysanthemum (daikun'i kikkashō, literally Grand Order of the Badge of the Chrysanthemums) is the most prestigious award in Japan. The Grand Cordon of the Order was established in 1876 by Emperor Meiji of Japan; the collar of the Order was added on January 4, 1888. Although technically the order has only one class, it can either be awarded with collar (or chain), or with grand cordon (or sash). Unlike its European counterparts, the order may be conferred posthumously. The Grand Cordon is the highest possible honor a Japanese citizen could be awarded during his life time.
Aside from the imperial household, only three grand cordons have been awarded to living citizens and eleven to the deceased.
The order features a rising sun in the center, symbolizing the national flag, from which radiates rays of sunlight, wreathed with chrysanthemums and chrysanthemum leaves. The attachment between the medal and the ribbon is shaped into a chrysanthemum.
The collar features the two kanji characters mei and ji, indicating the imperial era of the award's establishment, in classic form and is decorated with chrysanthemums and leaves.
The Rising Sun design is said to symbolize "kyokujitsushouten" (energy as powerful as the rising sun).
The badge of the order is a four-pointed gilt badge with white enamelled rays; the centre bears a red enamelled sun disc. on each of the four corners of the badge there is a yellow-enamelled chrysanthemum blossom with green enamelled chrysanthemum leaves. The badge is suspended on a yellow-enamelled chrysanthemum, either on the collar or on the grand cordon.
The star of the order is similar to the badge, but in silver, without the chrysanthemum suspension, and with an eight-pointed gilt medallion (with white enamelled rays and red enamelled sun disc) placed at the centre. It is worn on the left chest.
The grand cordon of the order is red with dark blue border stripes. It is worn on the right shoulder
Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum
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