The symbolism of Japan’s prefectural flags

The bureaucratic administration of Japan is divided into three basic levels; national, prefectural and municipal. Below the national level are 47 parts, or prefectures, and the minimalist symbolism in the prefectural flags is appealing, with most designs incorporating highly stylised letters from the Japanese writing system.

Flag of FukuokaFlag of Fukuoka. Stylised hiragana of ふく (fuku). Also represents ume (plum), the prefectural flower.

Flag of GifuFlag of Gifu. Stylised kanji 岐 (gi). The emblem expresses peace and harmony. Green for the nature of Gifu.

Flag of IbarakiFlag of Ibaraki. The prefectural flower rose on blue field. Blue for the Pacific Ocean and Mount Tsukuba.

Flag of KagawaFlag of Kagawa. Stylised and slightly rotated katakana of カ (ka). Also represents mountains, and leaves of the olive, the prefectural tree.

Flag of KyotoFlag of Kyoto. Stylized kanji of 京 (kyō).

Flag of MiyagiFlag of Miyagi. Stylised hiragana of み (mi). Also represents the miyaginohagi (lespedeza), the prefectural flower.

Flag of TottoriFlag of Tottori. The symbol represents the hiragana と (to) and a bird (tori) to form a rebus of Tottori.

All prefectural flags are on Wikipedia.

Below the level of prefectures are the municipalities. They also have flags with nicely considered symbolism and, for the most part, appropriate restraint.

Via @TheLogoFactory.

5 responses

  1. These are some nice samples (there are a lot of terrible ones, not shown in this post, as well).
    The Kyoto symbol is particularly gorgeous – albeit a bit of a stretch with the stylization of the 京 Kyo kanji.

    • If you learned traditional Japanese calligraphy, it is actually quite visible. Learning to read what to the western eye appears to be squiggly lines running down a painting is tough even for modern Japanese.

      Bear in mind: the symbol here in the text is the Japanese equivalent of ARIAL or TIMES NEW ROMAN, which to us also has very little to do with calligraphic handwriting.

      Examples:


  2. Albeit, not perfect, many of these flags are clever depictions of either their kanji form of its name or symbolic of items the region identifies with, say flower, tree, bird. The prefecture my mother grew up in was Oita, Beppu, Japan. The regional bird, the rising sun, and color are all represented by this flag.

    The flags are very respectfully designed and I believe bring pride for each memeber of that prefecture.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōita_Prefecture
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_mume
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zosterops
    https://www.reference.com/geography/japan-called-land-rising-sun-d0c4a5f1f7f3fbb1

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