Shorts: Ibaraki Prefecture 茨城県旗
Kazumasa Nagai's 1991 symbol for the Japanese prefecture of Ibaraki
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Japan is divided into 47 prefectures which fall below the national government and form the country's first level of jurisdiction and administrative divisions. Each prefecture has its own symbol and, in the spirit of ‘mon’, the traditional crests of Japanese families and clans, they are often influenced by traditional lettering or the natural environment.
The earliest iteration of the Ibaraki prefecture symbol was designed in 1911. This was a stylized rose created from the characters イハラキ, the katakana version of “Ibaraki”. This was later updated and modernised in 1966 by the designer Takeshi Yamazaki.
In 1991, it was decided that the idea of using イハラキ had never been fully-grasped and supported by the citizens of the prefecture so Kazumasa Nagai was asked to design a new symbol. This new design would also commemorate the prefecture’s 120th year.
The logo devised by Kazumasa Nagai follows in the tradition of Japanese 'mon' by evoking the natural landscape of the surrounding area, a region that borders the Pacific Ocean northeast of Tokyo. The flowers of Ibaraki prefecture and, in particular its rose buds, became the key motif, while the swirl alluded to notions such as 'advancement, 'creativity', 'dynamics' and 'development'.
The design was not without controversy. Comparisons were made with the Naruto City prefecture logo. This featured a spiral, a symbol of the Naruto Whirlpools. When rotated 180 degrees the spirals of the rose bud and those of the whirlpool appeared similar. Regardless, the symbol continues to be used by the prefecture.
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