Order of the Golden Kite

The Order of the Golden Kite (金鵄勲章, Kinshi Kunshō) was an order of the Empire of Japan, established on 12 February 1890 by Emperor Meiji "in commemoration of Jimmu Tennō, the Romulus of Japan".[1] It was officially abolished 1947 by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) during the occupation of Japan, after World War II.

Order of the Golden Kite
Order of the Golden Kite, 4th Class
TypeSeven-class military award
Awarded forBravery, leadership or command in battle.
Presented bythe  Empire of Japan
EligibilityMilitary personnel only
StatusNo longer awarded; abolished in 1947
Established12 February 1890
First awarded1890
Last awarded1945
JPN Kinshi-kunsho blank BAR.svg
Ribbon of the Order of the Golden Kite


Classes of the Order of the Golden Kite

The Order of the Golden Kite was an exclusively military award, conferred for bravery, leadership or command in battle. It ranked just below the Order of the Chrysanthemum in precedence and was the military equivalent of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers; therefore, it could be considered analogous to the military division of the Order of the Bath in the United Kingdom.[2] The first three classes were roughly equivalent to the three divisions of the Order of the Bath, the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh classes were analogous to the DSO, MC/DSC, DCM/CGM and DSM/MM, respectively[citation needed].

The order consisted of seven classes. Enlisted rank soldiers were eligible for the 7th–5th classes, non-commissioned officers were eligible for the 6th–4th classes, junior officers for the 5th–3rd classes, field grade officers for the 4th–2nd classes and general officers for the 3rd-1st classes.

A total of 1,067,492 Order of the Golden Kite awards were made over the history of the order, most of them in the two lower 6th and 7th classes. Only 41 of the 1st class and 201 of the 2nd class were awarded.

By conflict:

The award came with an annual monetary stipend, fixed in 1916. This was awarded for the lifetime of the recipient, and following his death, it would be awarded to the recipient's family for one year after. If the recipient died within 5 years of receiving the honor, the stipend would be awarded to the family until the end of the 5-year period.[3] In 1939, the stipends stood as follows:

  • 1st Class – 1500 yen
  • 2nd Class – 1000 yen
  • 3rd Class – 700 yen
  • 4th Class – 500 yen
  • 5th Class – 350 yen
  • 6th Class – 250 yen
  • 7th Class – 150 yen

Since the monthly pay for a private in the Imperial Japanese Army at the time was 8 yen, 80 sen, this amounted to a very substantial reward. The monetary stipend was abolished in 1940.

The honor was sometimes awarded individually, sometimes awarded en masse. In mid-October 1942, posthumous awards were announced following ceremonies at the Yasukuni Shrine. Posthumous honorees included 995 who were lost in combat in the far-flung Pacific War battles and 3,031 who were lost fighting in China. In this instance, Tokyo's official radio broadcast of the list of posthumous recipients of the Order of the Golden Kite was monitored by Allied forces in Asia.[4] The number of honorees was not considered remarkable at the time, but the number of posthumous awards was considered noteworthy by Allied analysts.[5] Specific high ranking naval and army officers were named; and in addition, special mention was given to 55 naval aviators and 9 "members of a special attack flotilla"—presumably miniature submarines taking part in the attack on Pearl Harbor.[4]

The order of the Golden Kite was officially abolished by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers of Occupied Japan in 1947.

Seventh Class Sixth Class Fifth Class Fourth Class
Third Class Second Class Grand Cordon


Golden kite (Milvus migrans)
Order of the Golden Kite, 1st and 2nd class plaque

The badge depicts a golden kite, a messenger of the kami as described in the ancient Japanese chronicle Nihon Shoki, which helped Emperor Jimmu defeat his enemies in battle. The golden kite stands on an eight-pointed star with 32 rays enameled in red. Below the kite are two crossed ancient shields, enameled blue, with two crossed spears with silver heads enameled yellow with red banners each bearing a mitsudomoe. On one side is a chokutō (enameled green with white trappings). The reverse side is plain.

The badge was gilt for the 1st-5th classes and silver for the 5th–7th classes. It was suspended on a ribbon in blue-green with a white stripe near the edges, worn as a sash on the left shoulder by the 1st class, as a necklet by the 2nd and 3rd classes, on the left chest by the 4th and 5th classes. The badges for 6th and 7th classes were non-enameled.

The star of the 1st and 2nd classes was similar to the badge as described above, but with both red and yellow enameled rays. It was worn on the left chest by the 1st class, on the right chest by the 2nd class.

Selected recipientsEdit

First ClassEdit

Second ClassEdit

Third ClassEdit

Fourth ClassEdit

Fifth ClassEdit

Sixth ClassEdit

Seventh ClassEdit

See alsoEdit

  • Kite (bird)—raptor referenced in Imperial war decoration


  1. ^ M1 Chamberlain, Basil Hall. (1905) Things Japanese: Being Notes on Various Subjects Connected with Japan for the use of Travellers and Others, p. 114.
  2. ^ Corresponding article in the Italian Wikipedia
  3. ^ The Japan Year Book 1938–1939, Kenkyusha Press, Foreign Association of Japan
  4. ^ a b "Tokyo Awards List Big Officer Loss; Vice Admiral, 2 Rear Admirals and 2 Major Generals Win Posthumous Honors; 55 Naval Fliers Named; Group Included Covers the Japanese Pacific Dead Up to Mid-February", The New York Times, October 16, 1942.
  5. ^ "Japan's Hero's", Time. October 26, 1942.
  6. ^ "Nogi, Maresuke," Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.), Vol. XXX, p. 1139.
  7. ^ Honor awarded 1907 -- Barry, Richard. "The Passing of Japan's Supreme Genius," New York Times, July 29, 1906.
  8. ^ Awarded also third and fourth class of the same order[citation needed]
  9. ^ Honor awarded 1942 – "Tokyo Awards List Big Officer Loss; Vice Admiral, 2 Rear Admirals and 2 Major Generals Win Posthumous Honors; 55 Naval Fliers Named; Group Included Covers the Japanese Pacific Dead Up to Mid-February", The New York Times, October 16, 1942.
  10. ^ IJN 6th (Navy (submarine)) fleet Posthumous Admiral. (Solid Gold Hanko 34.8grms) also found belonging to Mr Takagi in Australia; presented with award possibly for a battle in 1943 (as inscribed on Gold Hanko)[citation needed]
  11. ^ "Pure Evil: Wartime Japanese Doctor Had No Regard for Human Suffering". The Medical Bag. GROUP DCA. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  12. ^ Honor awarded 1942 – Tsuji, Masanobu. (1997). Japan's Greatest Victory, Britain's Worst Defeat, p. 108.


External linksEdit