The order of the sacred treaure was established in 1888 by the then Emporer Meiji.
Originally there were 8 classes, with 1st class being the most prestigious. Also originally it was only awarded to men, but it has been made available to/for women since 1919.
It is awarded for distinguished achievements in fields of research, business, healthcare, social work, or government. The British equivalent is the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
The highly symbolic medal is made in enamelled silver.It comes in its own presentation box, along with a rosette buttonhole stud.
The medal measures approximately 4 cm (1.5") by 4 cm (1.5").