Monday, March 21, 2011

Japanese Prefectural Flag Twins - Nagano & Fukushima : Part 1

The core theme in my flag research is the revelation that flags display a unique patten. Basically flags of a similar class can be paired up as fraternal twins. I have already shown many examples with sub national flags of Russia, Australia, Canada and even the state flags of the USA. This flag symmetry phenomena even occurs with the culturally distant nation of Japan.

Since Fukushima Prefecture has risen to global attention due to the recent tragedy of the Tsunami, it seems appropriate that we should start there. Japan basically has 47 divisions below the federal level, akin to the 50 sub-federal divisions of US or 13 sub-federal divisions within Canada (Provincial & Territorial).
Upper Letters are Hiragana
Lower Letters are Katakana

47 is an enchanting and important number for Japan, since there are officially 47 letters in the Japanese Alphabet - Hiragana or Katakana without divisional strokes. The Japanese writing system is rather immense. First of all there is an adapted Chinese Character Kanji Set (immensely complex), second their own native phonetic script has two forms - kind of like cursive (Hiragana) and print (Katakana), and finally they use the Roman Letters.

47 is relevant to the story of the 47 Samurai who avenged their master's honor. The 47 Ronin accepted their mission yet knew they would have to commit suicide if they succeeded. The name of this story became the novel the Chushingura which is based on actual events that took place in the early 1700s.

Nagano Prefectural Flag

The flag of Fukushima pairs up harmoiously with the flag of Nagano. These are only two prefectural flags that use the colours orange. Both prefectural flags use Japanese Letters upon their flags. Fukushima uses a stylized letter 'Fu' in Hiragana, while Nagano useus a stylized letter 'Na' in Katakana.
Fukushima Prefectural Flag

As of 2011 the names of both prefectures should be known world wide due to the 1998 Nagano Olympics and 2011 Fukushima earthquake-tsunami nuclear disaster.

Culturally both prefectures are famous for world wide cultural icons of Japan. Mr. Tsuburaya, Eji is a key individual responsible for unleashing Godzilla upon the imagination of Japan and subsequently the world. Likewise one of the most famous Sumo Wrestlers ever to wrestle in Japan is Raiden Tameemon. Monsters and wrestling are universal to all cultures. But in Japan Godzilla and Sumo Wrestlers have become cultural ambassadors known to all nations and nearly all generations. Essentially these two prefectures have given the world larger than life characters - one is imaginary the other real.

Nagano and Fukushima are rather large prefectures compared to most - they are proverbial big lanky prefectures of Japan. They are geographic opposites - Nagano is mostly mountainous while Fukushima is rather plain.


Video shown at the 23rd International Congress of Vexillology - 2009

Link to Toyota -

1 comment:

  1. Note there are 47 Old Style Hiragana 'letters' and one consonant "nnn" for a samurai 'bow.' The missing 'Wi' and 'We' were used during the Chushingura.