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The Japanese flag is an immediately recognizable emblem of the island nation, a brilliant red circle stamped on a pure white background. It's simplicity belies it's cultural importance to the Japanese and although you may think of the flag as a mainstay of Japan dating back at least 100 years, until 1999, the flag - known as the Nisshōki or Hi no maru - was designed completely differently.

Okay, maybe not completely differently.