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The Chrysanthemum, the Rising Sun and the Star

Article about: The Chrysanthemum, the Rising Sun and the Star In mid November 2014, Kongouji Temple in Owase City, Mie Prefecture made the news when they announced that they had been safekeeping a Chrysant

  1. #11


    Thanks Nick , for another marvellous article

    We are the Pilgrims , master, we shall go
    Always a little further : it may be
    Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow
    Across that angry or that glimmering sea...

  2. #12


    Quote by Alan M View Post
    Thanks Nick , for another marvellous article
    Can only concur with Alan. Very concise and nicely presented. Thank you Nick and well done.

    Experienced guide and published writer leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

  3. #13


    Here is an example of the chrysanthemum appearing on a certificate. This is for recognition in finishing the kenjutsu course at the Rikugun Toyama Gakko, dated Showa 3 [1928].
    Interestingly .... the Army certificate is to a Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nitōheisō.

    體操剣術 Taisō Kenjutsu [physical training/fencing]
    体操 modern kanji for taisō [cf Nick's excellent article about old v. new kanji.

    I missed that auction ... the cert sold for only ¥1,000 [$10]
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Chrysanthemum, the Rising Sun and the Star  

  4. #14


    That one must have been one of the final citations from the Toyoma School with the mum, as their citation is the 5th one from left among those to discontinue using the mum in the army's proposal list. It was already excluded from the list of March 1928, yet your photo is dated July of 1928, so there must have been the typical grace period of "while stock lasted".

  5. #15


    The Army decided to flatter itself by allowing MPs to overlook these costumes
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Chrysanthemum, the Rising Sun and the Star  

  6. #16


    Superb article and I have learned a lot. Thanks Nick.

  7. #17


    The naval mum that's being housed in the temple is still the property of the reigning emperor, correct? Could he ask (hypothetically) for it to be returned or destroyed?

  8. #18

    Default Mum’s the Word

    Official Army Version of the History of the Chrysanthemum Crests on guns

    Within Hideki Tojo’s files as Minister of the Army titled “Weapons Development Regulations”, and dated 6th September 1941, I found a short report titled “Regarding the Imperial Chrysanthemum Crest on Weapons (兵器に刻せられたたる御紋章に就いて)”, which gave some interesting insight new to me.

    This short write-up suggests that the question must have come up often within army weapons developers whether or not they should adorn a new weapon with a Mum, so these papers in the file were there to clarify the official stance the army took on the issue in the past.

    It starts out by tracing the start of the mum stamping practice on rifles back to 1872, 5 years from the end of the Edo era and the Shogunate.

    In that year, the new imperial government followed up on its August 1871 initiative of abolishing feudal domains and replacing them with prefectures under central control by calling on all prefectures to hand in their firearms for use by the new national army.

    However, the weapons thus collected exhibited a hodgepodge of more than 300 varieties of stamped crests representing each domain or the Shogunate, so to clarify the transfer of ownership of these weapons to imperial rule under the emperor, they over-stamped them with chrysanthemum crests.

    Then when the Murata rifle was introduced in 1880, the addition of the mum was again brought up for discussion, and because rifles were critical items to be carried by individual soldiers, it was decided that having the mum stamped would encourage soldiers to respect and take better care of their guns.

    In this connection, one needs to remember that soldiers were no longer mainly of samurai stock, who revered their swords, but farmers, who did not share such attitudes to weapons.

    This stamping of the mum on the Murata rifle was carried over to all rifles ever since.

    Then in 1883 the adoption of the 7cm field gun brought up a discussion whether the mum should be applied to cannons as well.

    To give a little background on this gun, the military world was already aware of the advantages of artillery in steel as developed by Krupp, and the IJA was also inclined to import and use these German Krupp guns. However, the French military advisor, Jules Brunet ( the real man behind the “Last Samurai” film ) strongly warned against dependency on other countries for basic weapons and strongly advocated use of the more traditional material of bronze, which was a material Japan was self-sufficient in.

    Anyway, for producing this field gun, on 25th February 1883, the Osaka artillery arsenal posed the question whether or not to add the mum to these new cannons; actually not merely the mum, but even individual nicknames for each gun. The arsenal proposed naming the guns after historical heroes.

    The arsenal had studied European marking practices for artillery pieces and noticed that other countries had the practice of giving individual names to guns besides stamping them with the national emblem (which in case of Japan would be the mum).

    The army’s official stance on this issue was decided in a meeting held on 13th April 1883, which said “Stamping the gun with serial number, weight, caliber and production year & month is a practical necessity, but adding the national crest or nick name is nonessential and superfluous, not worth the additional expense.”

    Then again on 1st April 1915 the Chief of the Weapons Bureau made a written proposal to extend the practice of mums on rifles to other critical weapons as well to engender a spirit of respectful caretaking of those national assets.

    The reply issued on 22nd April 1915 from the Head of the Technical Assessment Department said “Adding of such stamping involves difficulty in deciding where to draw the line on which weapons to make subject to the imperial crest. This is particularly problematic as some weapons are used in ways in which applying the imperial crest on them may be construed as defacement or disrespect of the imperial emblem”

    In this way, the practice of wider application of the Chrysanthemum Crest had been discussed several times within the army, but never expanded further than the traditional application on its firearms.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Chrysanthemum, the Rising Sun and the Star  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 07-10-2017 at 05:22 AM.

  9. #19


    I recall that in the past there was a discussion about who had ground off the mums from the guns at the time of surrender. Regulations are clear that it was the Japanese themselves that did it, but now I came across a navy signalman's testimony on that very point within his memoir. He ended the war on the Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands and he describes the disarming of his unit that took place on 5th September 1945 as follows.

    "First to be confiscated were the swords worn by our officers, then followed our rifles, from which we ground off the chrysanthemum crest before ditching them in the sea. Ammunition and explosive ordnance were also all dumped into US landing craft, which took us several days, after which they were taken off shore and sunk. All this was carried out under surveillance by the Americans, and other material like aviation fuel got collected upon the runway, where they were surrendered to the Americans." From the memoir of Shigeru Nezu about his life in the IJN.

  10. #20


    Nick, I thoroughly enjoyed your article. I'm currently doing some research on the topic of chrysanthemum removal and was wondering if I could pick your brain a little?
    Last edited by Pphilly; 12-04-2019 at 04:52 PM.

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