The Rising Sun and the Olympic Emblem- Yusaku Kamekura

Yusaku Kamekura’s works for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics are notably what launched the graphic designer into international fame, specifically his work “The Rising Sun and the Olympic Emblem”, which was made in 1961. Kamekura was commissioned by the Olympic committee to complete this project of posters to market the 1964 Olympics. Kamekura’s style is evident in this work through his use of both Japanese and Western artistic styles. Identified as a modernist design, Kamekura’s 1964 Olympic design was the first modernist design in Olympic history. This design specifically had an impact on many other Olympic designs, including the 1968 Mexico and 1972 Munich Olympic designs. 

Created by Kamekura only two hours before the deadline. The minimalist work, which features a red circle behind the Olympic logo on a white background, had a large influence on Japanese nationalism at the time. Although Kamekura did not intend for the work “to renew the appreciation of the Rising Sun`s dynamic simplicity,” many interpreted the circle on top of the white background as the Hinomaru, or the Japanese flag (“Total Design Tokyo Style the Year the Olympics ‘Got’ Modern Design was 1964, Via Yusaku Kamekura’s Logo for the Tokyo Games.”). These elements promoted nationalism within Japan, though Kamekura’s original intention was for the red circle to represent the sun, which in his eyes would evoke excitement for the Olympic Games taking place in Tokyo. The portrait orientation of the work was an important distinction made by Kamekura in order to deliver the message that the red sun was indeed just a red sun, not the Hinomaru. The design, which was utilized on the medals, merchandise, and posters gained popularity worldwide, and somewhere near 100,000 copies of the poster were printed and distributed before the 1964 Olympics (Wagner). 


Works Cited

Design Week. “‘I’m Going to Be Very Predictable…” – Designers on Their Favourite Olympic Logos.” Design Week, 18 Feb. 2016, 

“Total Design Tokyo Style the Year the Olympics ‘Got’ Modern Design was 1964, Via Yusaku Kamekura’s Logo for the Tokyo Games.” Creative Review, 2012, pp. 62. ProQuest,

Wagner, Juergen. “Olympic Games 1964 Tokyo.” Olympic Museum,