Order of Culture

This article is on the Japanese order. For the Korean order, see Order of Cultural Merit (Korea).
Order of Culture
Awarded by the Emperor of Japan
Type Order
Awarded for contributions to Japanese art, literature, or culture
Status Currently constituted
Sovereign His Imperial Majesty The Emperor
Grades (w/ post-nominals) one class
Established February 11, 1937
Next (higher) Order of the Sacred Treasure
Next (lower) Order of the Precious Crown
Ribbon of the order

The Order of Culture (文化勲章 Bunka-kunshō) is a Japanese order, established on February 11, 1937. The order has one class only, and may be awarded to men and women for contributions to Japan's art, literature, science, technology, or anything related to culture in general; recipients of the order also receive an annuity for life. The order is conferred by the Emperor of Japan in person on Culture Day (November 3) each year.

The badge of the order, which is in gold with white enamel, is in the form of an mandarin orange blossom; the central disc bears three crescent-shaped jades (magatama). The badge is suspended on a gold and enamel wreath of mandarin orange leaves and fruit, which is in turn suspended on a purple ribbon worn around the neck.

System of recognition

The Order of Culture and Persons of Cultural Merit function together in honoring contributions to the advancement and development of Japanese culture in a variety of fields such as academia, arts and others.[1]

Order of Culture

Kabuki actor Nakamura Kichiemon I was awarded the Order of Culture in 1951. He was the first kabuki performer to be accorded this honor.

The Emperor himself presents the honor at the award ceremony, which takes place at the Imperial Palace on the Day of Culture (November 3). Candidates for the Order of Culture are selected from the Persons of Cultural Merit by the Minister for Education, Science, Sports and Culture upon hearing views of all the members of the selection committee for the Persons of Cultural Merit. The Minister then recommends the candidates to the Prime Minister so that they can be decided by the Cabinet.[1]

Persons of Cultural Merit

The system for Persons of Cultural Merit was established in 1951 by the Law on Pensions for the Persons of Cultural Merit. The purpose is to honor persons of cultural merit by providing a special government-sponsored pension. Since 1955, the new honorees have been announced on the Day of Culture, the same day as the award ceremony for the Order of Culture.[1]

Selected recipients

A complete list can be found here.[2]

This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.


























Known to have declined the honor

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Japan): Culture 2000, Part 1, Chapter 3, Section 2.1
  2. 文化勲章受章者一覧 Nifty
  3. Fukuoka Medical School:
  4. 中村吉右衛門 (初代)
  5. Honor awarded 1979 -- Strom, Stephanie. Nakamura Utaemon VI, 84, International Star of Kabuki", New York Times 4 April 2001.
  6. Honor awarded 1944 -- Junijiro Takakusu
  7. Honor awarded 1981 -- "Kenjiro Takayanagi, Electrical Engineer, 91", New York Times, 25 July 1990.
  8. Honor awarded 1965 -- Sanjo City website: Morohashi Tetsuji Museum
  9. Frängsmyr, Tore. (1993). Nobel Lectures in Physiology or Medicine, 1981-1990, p. 380.
  10. Honor awarded in 1960 -- "Yoshikawa Eiji, in Encyclopædia Britannica. (2006).
  11. "Sony Global-Press Release-Masaru Ibuka 1908-1997", Sony Press Release Archive, Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  12. "Takashi Asahina, 93; Musical Director of Orchestra in Japan", Los Angeles Times, 31 December 2001.
  13. NEC (2 October 2002). "Brief Summary of Recipients' Careers". Press release. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  14. 1 2 Rockefeller University (October 26, 1995). "Japanese Government Honors Rockefeller University Professor for Cancer Research". Press release. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  15. "Hanae Mori", Japan Times Online, 23 October 2007.
  16. 1 2 "Order of Culture Awarded", Japan Foundation Newsletter, Vol. XXV, No. 6, March, 1998, page 6. (PDF)
  17. 1 2 "Order of Culture", Japan Foundation Newsletter, Vol. XXVI, No. 4, February, 1999, page 7. (PDF)
  18. 1 2 "Prime Minister Attends Order of Culture Award Ceremony", Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet (official website), November 3, 1999.
  19. 1 2 3 "Nobel chemist to get Order of Culture", Japan Times Online, 25 October 2000.
  20. 1 2 "Five pioneers to receive Order of Culture awards", Japan Times Online, October 31, 2001.
  21. 1 2 3 "Emperor honors six in culture, science", Japan Times Online, November 4, 2002.
  22. 1 2 3 "Ogata, Ooka and others to receive Order of Culture", Japan Times Online, October 29, 2003.
  23. "Seal engraver, kabuki actor among honored cultural contributors", Forum Japon, October 29, 2004.
  24. 1 2 "Five honored with Order of Culture", Japan Times Online, November 4, 2005.
  25. Arata receives award from Emperor of Japan on ISCMNS
  26. 1 2 "Writing nun gets culture award", Japan Times Weekly Online, November 11, 2006.
  27. "Kyogen actor, four others chosen for culture awards". The Japan Times. Kyodo News. 28 October 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  28. 1 2 "Kyogen actor, four others accept top culture awards", Japan Times Online, November 4, 2007.
  29. 1 2 "Gov't decorates 3 Nobel winners, Seiji Ozawa, Donald Keene, 3 others", Japan Today, October 29, 2008.
  30. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Honor awarded 2008 -- "Donald Keene, 7 others win Order of Culture," Yomiuri Shimbun. October 29, 2008.
  31. 1 2 "Beicho, Tojuro among 5 recipients of year's top culture award", Seek Japan, October 27, 2009.
  32. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Nobelists Suzuki, Negishi get Order of Culture," Japan Times. October 27, 2010, retrieved 2011-04-20.
  33. Honor refused 1994 -- Onishi, Norimitsu. "Released from Rigors of a Trial, a Nobel Laureate’s Ink Flows Freely," New York Times. May 17, 2008.


External links

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