Municipal flag, Japan --
[Typographic logo for Kamagaya (Chiba) spells town name in katakana]

Japanese town logos -- official symbols designed to communicate the identity of each municipality -- come in a vast array of shapes and colors. Many of these municipal symbols incorporate typographical elements (particularly kanji, hiragana, katakana, and Roman letters) into their designs. In most cases, the stylized characters are straightforward and easy to spot (even if you don't read Japanese), but sometimes you have to bend your eyes to see them. The more complex logos encode the name of the town into a puzzle-like symbol that begs to be deciphered. Here are a few typographic town logos that make clever use of hiragana and katakana characters. (The examples are arranged in Japanese alphabetical order and include a mixture of both alphabets.)

Municipal flag, Japan --
[Abiko, Chiba]

A: Abiko's logo uses a stylized katakana ã‚¢ (a) that symbolizes Lake Tega.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Itabashi, Tokyo]

I: The picture-puzzle logo for Tokyo's Itabashi ward consists of the katakana イタ (ita) surrounded by four (shi) katakana ハ (ha) -- the katakana ハ (ha) is a variant of バ (ba). Together, the elements express the name "Itabashi" ("ita" + "ha" + "shi").

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Urakawa, Hokkaido]

U: In Urakawa's design, a stylized kanji 河 (kawa) is surrounded by four sets of the katakana ウラ (ura), which represent the four municipalities that joined together in 1902 to form the current town.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Ebino, Miyazaki]

E: Ebino's hiragana え (e) is in the shape of Mt. Kirishima.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Owase, Mie]

O: Owase's town logo consists of a katakana オ (o) in the shape of an eagle (pronounced "wase" in the local dialect).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Kanoya, Kagoshima]

Ka: The blue shape represents the Osumi peninsula, and the red circle with the gold katakana カノヤ (Kanoya) represents the city.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Kikai, Kagoshima]

Ki: The logo for Kikai consists of a stylized hiragana き (ki).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Kumamoto, Kumamoto]

Ku: Kumamoto's logo is a rounded hiragana く (ku).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Kesennuma, Miyagi]

Ke: The logo for Kesennuma consists of a hiragana け (ke).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Komaki, Aichi]

Ko: The katakana コマキ (komaki) in this logo is designed to represent an airplane engine.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Misawa, Aomori]

Sa: In Misawa's picture-puzzle logo, the three (mi) katakana サ (sa) form a ring (wa). The Y-shaped objects are pine needles.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi]

Shi: Shimonoseki's logo consists of the hiragana しも (shimo) in the shape of a puffer fish.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Sumida, Tokyo]

Su: This symbol for Tokyo's Sumida ward is composed of the katakana ス (su).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Setana, Hokkaido]

Se: The katakana せ (se) is in the shape of Hokkaido, and the circle represents the town's location on the map.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Urasoe, Okinawa]

So: The logo for Urasoe is said to incorporate the katakana ウラソエ (Urasoe), though the ソ (so) and エ (e) are difficult to see.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Tateyama, Chiba]

Ta: Tateyama's logo consists of the katakana タ (ta) on the left, テ (te) on the right, and the kanji 山 (yama) in the center.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Chitose, Hokkaido]

Chi: In Chitose's logo, the hiragana ち (chi) is shaped like an airplane.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Tsushima, Nagasaki]

Tsu: The six hiragana つ (tsu) in this logo represent the six municipalities that merged in 2004 to form the current city.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Toride, Ibaraki]

Te: Toride's logo incorporates the katakana トリテ (torite). デ (de) is a variant of テ (te).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Tōkai, Aichi]

To: The logo for Tōkai uses the hiragana とう (tō).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Nankoku, Kochi]

Na: In Nankoku's logo, the katakana ナ (na) resembles a pair of wings.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Niiza, Saitama]

Ni: Niiza's logo incorporates the katakana ニ (ni) and ザ (za).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Numazu, Shizuoka]

Nu: The logo for Numazu depicts the katakana ヌ (nu) with pine needles.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Nerima, Tokyo]

Ne: The logo for Tokyo's Nerima ward consists of a katakana ネ (ne) with a horseshoe-shaped center -- a reference to the "horse" kanji 馬 (ma) in Nerima.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Minoo, Osaka]

No: Minoo's picture-puzzle logo consists of three (mi) katakana ノ (no).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Hadano, Kanagawa]

Ha: The logo for Hadano consists of the katakana ハタノ (hatano) drawn to resemble wings. ダ (da) is a variant of タ (ta).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Biei, Hokkaido]

Hi: Biei's logo design features the hiragana び (bi) in the shape of Mt. Tokachi. び (bi) is a variant of ひ (hi).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Fukuchiyama]

Fu: The picture-puzzle logo for Fukuchiyama incorporates nine (ku) katakana フ (fu).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Sasebo, Nagasaki]

Ho: Sasebo's logo is drawn with the katakana サセホ (Saseho). ホ (bo) is a variant of ボ (ho).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Higashi-Matsuyama, Saitama]

Ma: This logo design consists of three katakana マ (ma). The symbol as a whole is meant to represent the kanji 東 (higashi), as well as the kanji 山 (yama).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Minato, Tokyo]

Mi: The design for Tokyo's Minato ward features a stylized version of the hiragana み (mi).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Mutsu, Aomori]

Mu: Mutsu's symbol consists of the hiragana むつ (mutsu).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Kameoka, Kyoto]

Me: Kameoka's logo design is said to incorporate letters from three alphabets, including the hiragana かめ (kame), the katakana カメ (kame), the roman letters KA, and others.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Mobara, Chiba]

Mo: Mobara's town symbol is said to incorporate a stylized version of the hiragana ã‚‚ (mo), though it is difficult to make out.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Yachiyo, Chiba]

Ya: The logo for Yachiyo consists of the hiragana ã‚„ (ya).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Yokosuka, Kanagawa]

Yo: Yokosuka's symbol, which represents a mariner's compass, incorporates the katakana ヨコ (yoko) styled like the Miura clan symbol.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Omura, Nagasaki]

Ra: Omura's picture-puzzle logo features the kanji 大 (oh) surrounded by six (mu) katakana ラ (ra).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Rishiri, Hokkaido]

Ri: Rishiri's symbol is said to incorporate the hiragana り (ri), which representing ocean waves, along with the hiragana し (shi), which represents Mt. Rishiri.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Rumei, Hokkaido]

Ru: The logo for Rumei consists of the katakana ル (ru) surrounded by four seagulls.

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Rebun, Hokkaido]

Re: Rebun's town symbol incorporates the katakana レ (re).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Muroran, Hokkaido]

Ro: Muroran's picture-puzzle logo consists of six (mu) katakana ロ (ro) surrounding an orchid (ran).

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Municipal flag, Japan --
[Tokorozawa, Saitama]

Wa: The picture-puzzle logo for Tokorozawa features a yam (tokoro) surrounded by three katakana ワ (wa). In Japanese, "three" is pronounced "san," which sounds similar to "za."

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