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Order of the Sacred Treasure

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Title: Order of the Sacred Treasure  
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Subject: Elizabeth Gray Vining, Japanese honors system, Robert L. Eichelberger, Charles E. Tuttle, Bukochosho
Collection: 1888 Establishments in Japan, Awards Established in 1888, Orders, Decorations, and Medals of Japan
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Order of the Sacred Treasure

Order of the Sacred Treasure
Star of the Order of the Sacred Treasure
Awarded by the Emperor of Japan
Type Order
Awarded for Long and/or meritorious civil or military service
Status Currently constituted
Sovereign His Imperial Majesty
The Emperor
Grades (w/ post-nominals) 1st through 6th Class
Established 4 January 1888
Next (higher) Order of the Rising Sun
Next (lower) Order of Culture
Ribbon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure – new type

The Order of the Sacred Treasure (瑞宝章 Zuihō-shō) is a Japanese Order, established on 4 January 1888 by Emperor Meiji as the Order of Meiji. Originally awarded in eight classes (from 8th to 1st, in ascending order of importance), since 2003 it has been awarded in six classes, the lowest two medals being abolished that year. The most widely conferred Japanese order, it is awarded to those who have made distinguished achievements in research fields, business industries, healthcare, social work, state/local government fields or the improvement of life for handicapped/impaired persons.[1]

Originally a male-only decoration, the order has been made available to women since 1919; it is awarded for both civil and military merit, though of a lesser degree than that required for the conferment of the Order of the Rising Sun. Unlike its European counterparts, the order may be conferred posthumously.


  • Classes 1
  • Insignia 2
  • After the 2003 reform 3
  • Selected recipients 4
    • 1st class, Grand Cordon 4.1
    • 2nd class, Gold and Silver Star 4.2
    • 3rd class, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon 4.3
    • 4th class, Gold Rays with Rosette 4.4
    • 5th class, Gold and Silver Rays 4.5
    • 6th class, Silver Rays 4.6
    • 7th class: abolished 4.7
    • 8th class: abolished 4.8
    • General Class 4.9
  • Gallery 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Sources 8
  • External links 9


The Order can be awarded in any of six classes. Conventionally, a diploma is prepared to accompany the insignia of the order, and in some rare instances, the personal signature of the emperor will have been added. As an illustration of the wording of the text, a translation of a representative 1929 diploma says:

"By the grace of Heaven, Emperor of Japan, seated on the throne occupied by the same dynasty from time immemorial,
We confer the Second Class of the Imperial Order of Meiji upon Henry Waters Taft, a citizen of the United States of America and a director of the Japan Society of New York, and invest him with the insignia of the same class of the Order of the Double Rays of the Rising Sun, in expression of the good will which we entertain towards him.
"In witness whereof, we have hereunto set our hand and caused the Grand Seal of the Empire to be affixed at the Imperial Palace, Tokio, this thirteenth day of the fifth month of the fourth year of Shōwa, corresponding to the 2,589th year from the accession to the throne of Emperor Jimmu."[2]


The insignia of the order incorporates symbols for the three imperial treasures: the Yata Mirror, so sacred that not even the Emperor is allowed to look at it; the Yasakani Jewel, which is made of the finest jade; and the Emperor's personal sword.

The star for the Grand Cordon and Second Class is similar to the badge as described above, but effectively with two sets of Maltese crosses, one in gilt and one placed diagonally in silver. It is worn on the left chest by the Grand Cordon, on the right chest (without any other insignia) by the 2nd class.

The badge for the first through sixth classes is a Maltese cross, in gilt (1st-4th classes), gilt and silver (5th class) and silver (6th class), with white enameled rays (representing the sword). The central disc is blue, bearing an eight-pointed silver star (representing the mirror), surrounded by a wreath with red-enameled dots (representing the jewel). The badge is suspended on a ribbon in light blue with a gold stripe near the border, worn as a sash on the right shoulder by the Grand Cordon, as a necklet by males of the 2nd and 3rd classes, on the left chest (the ribbon folded into a triangle) by the 4th to 6th classes (with a rosette for the 4th class). For females of the 2nd to 6th classes, the ribbon is a bow worn on the left shoulder (with a rosette for the 4th class).

Until 2003, when it was abolished, the badge of the seventh and eighth classes was an eight-pointed silver medal, partially gilded for the 7th class, with representations of just the mirror and the jewel. The badge is suspended on a white ribbon with a gold stripe near the border, worn by men on the left chest (the ribbon folded into a triangle). For women, the ribbon is a bow worn on the left shoulder.

Until 2003, the ribbon of the order was white with two gold stripes near the borders; since then the ribbon has been light blue, but retains two gold stripes near the borders. The ribbon for the Fourth Class and above incorporates a blue-and-gold rosette (silver until 2003), with a solid gold bar for the Grand Cordon, a gold and silver bar for the Second Class, a solid silver bar for the Third Class and only the rosette for the Fourth Class. The ribbon for the Fifth and Sixth Classes has a centered blue disc (silver until 2003) with gold rays radiating from its center, eight rays for the Fifth Class and six rays for the Sixth Class. Formerly, the ribbon for the Seventh and Eighth Classes had a centered silver disc with gold rays radiating from its center, four rays for the Seventh Class and three rays for the Eighth Class.

Ribbons of the Order of the Sacred Treasure
1888–2003 2003–present
Grand Cordon
Second Class, Gold and Silver Star
Third Class, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon
Fourth Class, Gold Rays with Rosette
Fifth Class, Gold and Silver Rays
Sixth Class, Silver Rays
Seventh Class, Medal (abolished 2003)
Eighth Class, Medal (abolished 2003)
General ribbon of the order

After the 2003 reform

In 2003 the lowest two classes of the Order were abolished. Moreover, the badges of the Order will from now on be suspended from three white-enamelled paulownia leaves (not chrysanthemum leaves as the Decoration Bureau page claims).

Selected recipients

1st class, Grand Cordon

2nd class, Gold and Silver Star

3rd class, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon

4th class, Gold Rays with Rosette

5th class, Gold and Silver Rays

6th class, Silver Rays

  • His Majesty Ariki Tuheitia of New Zealand, awarded 2015

7th class: abolished

While established with the original induction of the First 6 classes, Class 7 has never been issued or given an official designation or design.

Officially the Medal and its designation were abolished in 2003, there are no known recipients or issuances of this Medal in its original design from 1887.

8th class: abolished

While established with the original induction of the First 6 classes, Class 8 has never been issued or designated a design, like Class 7 Before it.

Officially the Medal and its designation were abolished in 2003, there are no known recipients or issuances of this Medal in its original design from 1887.

General Class

  • Makau Ariki Atawhai of Maurea, New Zealand, awarded 2015


See also


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  • Peterson, James W., Barry C. Weaver and Michael A. Quigley. (2001). Orders and Medals of Japan and Associated States. San Ramon, California: Orders and Medals Society of America. ISBN 1-890974-09-9
  • Rossiter, Johnson, ed. (1904). The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Vol. II. Boston: The Biographical Society....Click link for digitized, full text copy of this book
  • Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, Kenkyusha Limited, Tokyo 1991, ISBN 4-7674-2015-6

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