The current official flag of Japan was adopted in 1870. That flag changed slightly in 1999 with minor modifications to the proportion of the red sun to the background. Its official name is called “Rising Sun” or Nisshoki, since the name Japan literally means “Land of the Rising Sun.” The Japanese flag is mostly white, with a large red circle in the middle. The red circle represents the sun. The white background is supposed to represent purity and honesty, while the red circle is meant to symbolize the sun, or bright, sincere warmth.
The origins of the flag are not known for certain, but legend has it that the flag originated in the early 13th century when a Buddhist priest extended a red ‘sun disc’ to the current Tokugawa shogun who was supposedly a descendant of the ancient sun goddess.