Nambu World: Japanese Medals and Badges

            I have divided this section into seven parts. The first deals with gservice medalsh (ju-gun-ki-sho), which were awarded to everyone who served in a specific war or campaign. The second deals with gorders of merith (kunsho), which are awarded for gmeritorious deedsh (kun-ko). The third covers injury and death medals. The fourth is about commemorative medals (ki-nen-ki-sho) issued to celebrate major national events. The fifth deals with badges (ki-sho) which recognize membership or attainment of a specific qualification. The sixth section refers to hokobukuro.  Japanese soldiers and reservists had a cloth bag, usually called a hokobukuro, in which they were supposed to keep everything relating to their military service, including medals and badges. At the end of this page the seventh section reviews references to books and web sites on medals and badges.

            The abbreviation OMJAS is a reference to the book Orders and Medals of Japan and Associated States, the standard reference on medals. The abbreviation INLG refers to the book In the Name of a Living God, the standard reference on badges. At the end of this page there is more information on these books and how you can get your own copies. I highly recommend both of them.


Part I:Service medals (jugun kisho)

            These medals were awarded to just about everyone involved in a specific war or campaign. The Japanese term is jugun kisho. Jugun means gservice in the militaryh. Kisho means gmedalh or gbadgeh. In general, the Japanese tended to refer to service during specific years of an emperorfs reign rather than naming the wars, so the names I have assigned them in English do not exactly correspond to the Japanese terms, although I do explain what the Japanese call each medal in some detail.

            Please click on one of the links below to see Japanese service medals and, in most cases, the certificates that accompanied them.

            Sino-Japanese War 1894-1895: sinojapanesewarmedal.htm

            Boxer Rebellion Expedition (Relief of Peking) 1900: boxerrebellion.htm

            Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905): russojapanesewarmedal.htm

            World War One (Early Type) 1914-1916: wwonemedalearly.htm

            World War One (Late Type) 1914-1920: wwonemedallate.htm

            Manchurian Incident 1931-1934: manchuriancampaignmedal.htm

            China Incident 1937-1945: chinaincidentmedal.htm

            Nomonhan Border Incident 1939: nomonhan.htm         

            Ribbons & Bars: bars.htm


Part II: Orders of Merit (kunsho)


Orders of Merit are awarded for special accomplishments. In pre-war Japan there were three principal orders of this type: the Order of the Sacred Treasure, the Order of the Rising Sun, and the Order of the Golden Kite. The Order of the Golden Kite was for the military only and was abolished shortly after the war. Theother two still exist and have been awarded to both civilian and military recipients. There are several classes of each order. I have only the lowest class of each. They are shown in the photo above: Order of the Rising Sun, 8th class on the left; Order of the Golden Kite, 7th class, in the centre; and Order of the Sacred Treasure, 8th class on the right. The inscription on the back of these medals, kun-ko-ki-sho, indicates they are gribboned medals for meritorious deedsh.

Please click on one of the links below to see Japanese Orders of Merit and the certificates that accompanied them.

Order of the Sacred Treasure: sacredtreasure8.htm

Order of the Rising Sun: risingsun8.htm

Order of the Golden Kite: goldenkite7.htm       

Ribbons & Bars: bars.htm


Part III: Injury and Death Medals

            Japanese soldiers who were injured got one of two medals depending on whether their injuries were sustained in combat or other circumstances. The next-of-kin (usually wife or parents) of soldiers who were killed also received a medal. This section provides details on these medals (some call them badges).

            Combat Wound Medal (sensho kisho):  (to come)

            Non-Combat Injury Medal (kosho kisho): (to come)

            Next-of-Kin Bereavement Medal (   ): (to come)


Part IV: Commemorative Medals (kinensho)

            Commemorative medals were issued to commemorate important events like the enthronement of a new Emperor. Although they are not specifically military medals, many military men did get them.

            To see Japanese commemorative medals, please click here:

            Enthronement of the Taisho Emperor: taishoenthronement.htm

            First National Census: census.htm

            Enthonement of the Showa Emperor (Hirohito): showaenthronement.htm

            2600th Anniversary of the Japanese Imperial Era: anniversary2600.htm


Part V: Badges (kisho)

There are tons of different badges for membership in various associations with military ties and for achievement of specific qualifications like machine-gunner, etc. I have a lot more badges yet to post.

To see Japanese badges, please click on one of the links below:

Student Marksmanship Badges: Nambu World: Student Marksmanship Badges

Japanese Military Marksmanship Badges: Nambu World: Military Marksmanship Badges

Reservist Marksmanship Badges: Nambu World: Reservist Marksmanship Badges

Imperial Reservistsf Association Badges: imperialreservistbadges.htm

Other Paramilitary Association Badges: (to come)

Womenfs Paramilitary Association Badges: womensbadges.htm


Part VI: Service Records Bags (hokobukuro)

            Japanese soldiers and reservists were supposed to keep their medals, badges and other military records in a cloth bag called a hokobukuro. For photos and more details on these bags, please click here: Japanese Military Bags (I have a lot more of these to post besides what is there already).


Part VII: ReferenceMaterial on Japanese Medals and Badges


            The standard reference work on japanese medals seems to be Orders and Medals of Japan and Associated States, Third Edition, which has been referred to frequently here as OMJAS. This book was originally written by James W. Peterson and has since been revised and expanded by Barry C. Weaver and Michael A. Quigley. It is Monograph Number 1 of the Orders and Medals Society of America, which published it.If you would like to find out more about how to get this book direct from the publishing organization, please click here: The Orders and Medals Society of America

            I have a Japanese-language book on medals entitled Kunsho michishirube: eiten no subete (Guide to Orders of Merit: Everything about honours). It is by Mr. Kosho Kawamura, 1988. It has nice colour photos including the higher classes of medals and all the protocol about how to wear them.

            There is now also a good book on Japanese paramilitary badges: In the Name of a Living God: The Non-Governmental Badges and Medals of Imperial Japan, Including Police, Fire Brigade, Red Cross, Veteran and Patriotic Groups by Paul L. Murphy and Steven L. Ackley (Ackley Unlimited: Portland, Oregon, 2005). This is an excellent and comprehensive reference in a growing field where nothing serious was previously available, at least in English. The illustrations are in colour, so it is a very attractive work as well as being informative. My only quibble with it is that it uses a very misleading term for the Imperial Reservistsf Association, which it called the Imperial Time-Expired Soldierfs League. This nomenclature I find unsatisfactory because it is neither a translation of the Japanese name of the organization, nor an accurate description of the nature of the organization, nor does it correspond to already well-established usage in scholarly works. Nevertheless, you should buy one if you are interested in this field of collecting. You can e-mail the author about getting a copy at The book costs around US$50 plus shipping and is well worth it.


          Links to Sites on Japanese Medals

            Here are links to a site with more stuff on Japanese medals of WWI and WWII.

Japanese Medals of WW2

Japanese Medals of WWI


To return to gOther Japanese Militariah, please click here: Nambu World: Other Japanese Militaria

To return to the home page, please click here: Nambu World: Terifs WWII Japanese Handgun Website


Last updated: June 9, 2009. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.