February 27: The Hinomaru

Japanese FlagIn my opinion, the Japanese flag, officially called the Nisshōki (“sun-mark flag”) but popularly known as the Hinomaru (“circle of the sun”) is one of the greatest works of minimalist art. The red circle on a plain white background is a striking and instantly recognizable image that easily makes the Hinomaru one of the world’s best flags. It was on this day in 1870 that the Hinomaru was first adopted.

The Hinomaru was originally adopted as the national flag for merchant ships, but the Japanese Navy soon adopted it. However, Japan’s official national flag was the Rising Sun flag. The Rising Sun remained the national flag until the end of World War II. Unsurprisingly, as the Rising Sun became associated with the atrocities committed by Imperial Japan during the first half of the 20th century, the Rising Sun was quietly retired in 1945, with the Hinomaru becoming Japan’s national flag by default. Interestingly, it was not until 1999 that the Hinomaru was officially recognized as the national flag.

Today, salute the flag with a Red Sun. It’s a bittersweet drink made with the herbal liqueur Amaro Ramazzotti.

Red Sun

  • 4 ounces Amaro Ramzzotti
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce grenadine
  • apple juice

Pour all ingredients into a highball glass filled with ice and then fill with apple juice. Stir and garnish with a lemon zest.

Tomorrow: Napoleon returns.

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