The national flag of Japan called Hinomaru ( lit. sun disk ),
symbolizing the sun,
has a crimson disk in the center of a white field.

It is said that at the time of the Mongol Invations of Japan (1274 and 1281 )
the priest Nichiren presented a sun flag to the shougun.
The Tokugawa shougunate (1603-1867)
adopted the flag for its ships in the early 17th century
In the mid-19th century the shougunate decreed
that all Japanese ships fly flags
with the sun on the white field.
In 1870 the Meiji government officially designated it
as the national flag for use on commercial ships.

It has never been officially designated as the national flag,
however it has become so by customary use.

( Kimi ga Yo )

The national anthem of Japan is called Kimi ga Yo
( lit. the emperor's reign )

Kimi ga Yo
Kimi ga yo wa
Chiyo ni
Yachiyo ni
Sazare-ishi no
Iwao to narite
Koke no musu made...
* May the Emperor's reign
Continue for a thousand or more than
Eight thousand generations,
Until the pebbles
Grow into boulders
And covered with moss

kimigayo.midi (2KB) click

The author of this poem is unknown,
but it was taken from the Kokinwakashuu,
an anthology of tanka, traditional 31-syllable verse poems,
compiled by Ki no Tsurayuki in the Heian period (794- 1191)

The music was composed by Hiromori Hayashi

Today, some people wonder why a poem
that praises the emperor the national song in a country
where everyone is legally of equal status.
Because of this, at times when the anthem is required to be sung,
like in March for graduation,
some teachers or students protest or object
to singing Kimigayo at the school ceremonies
and sometimes cause troubles.