Since the late 19th Century, the government of Japan has awarded six different levels of Medals of Honor to individuals for achievements in various fields.
Graduates and faculty of Earlham College have received these medals, which are awarded every spring and fall and presented by the Emperor. Their names and the medals they received are listed below.
- Gordon T. Bowles '25: Awarded the Order of the Rising Sun in 1958
- Wendell M. Stanley '26: Awarded the Order of the Rising Sun; Stanley was also awarded a Nobel Prize in 1946.
- Jackson H. Bailey '50: Awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1988; Bailey taught in Earlham's History Department (1959-1993) and was instrumental in developing Earlham's Japanese Studies Program. He received an Outstanding Alumni Award from Earlham in 1996.
- Barbara Ruch '54: Awarded the Order of the Precious Crown with Butterfly Crest; Ruch is Professor Emerita of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University and received an Outstanding Alumni Award from Earlham in 2003.
- Richard Wood, professor emeritus of philosophy (1966-1980) and former Earlham College President (1985-1996) was honored with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, in 2009, for his outstanding contributions to the promotion of educational and cultural exchange between Japan and the United States.