I've recently noticed that I see a lot of "Crosses" in manga and anime. I thought it was just because Japan has a lot of Christians as I remember my history teacher telling me how Japanese people once really liked the Bible when Europeans came to explore, until the Shogun or someone of great power closed the gates of Japan and essentially isolated Japan from the outside world.

Some of the more popular characters that I currently remember are Asuna Yuuki (SAO) in the real world when meeting Kirito and Dracule Hawkeye (One Piece).

After further investigation, I realized Japan was only 1 percent Christian.

Is there another meaning to the Cross in Japan?

  • 3
    See this. From my experience, crosses are most commonly just an aesthetic part of anime which portray religious groups, castles, holy warriors, epic crusades, etc. They're just cool symbols and not much else.
    – Hakase
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 12:37
  • Note that the cross is a very graphically-simple symbol - it's just two lines intersecting at right angles! Even independently of its associations with Christianity, the use of the cross as a visual motif isn't terribly strange. (Contrast, for example, the swastika, or the Star of David, both of which are more graphically-complex. In those cases, I think it'd be fair to say that they're almost certainly used to evoke Buddhist or Jewish associations, respectively.)
    – senshin
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 18:39
  • 6
    You'll also see Christians (and hence, crosses) overrepresented in anime relative to their actual presence in Japan (<1%), just like you'll see Jews overrepresented in US media (you may be surprised to find that the US is only ~2% Jewish). A minority religion is a fairly effective "quirk" to make a character more interesting.
    – senshin
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 18:42

3 Answers 3


One possible explanation could be that it looks foriegn or exotic, or "western". In Neon Genesis Evangelion, which uses the cross symbol pretty rampantly, one of the creators gave this explanation (from the Q&A "Amusing Himself to Death" with Tsurumaki):

Can you explain the symbolism of the cross in Evangelion?

KT: There are a lot of giant robot shows in Japan, and we did want our story to have a religious theme to help distinguish us. Because Christianity is an uncommon religion in Japan we thought it would be mysterious. None of the staff who worked on Eva are Christians. There is no actual Christian meaning to the show, we just thought the visual symbols of Christianity look cool. If we had known the show would get distributed in the US and Europe we might have rethought that choice.

(Emphasis is mine)

So it may not be that the cross means something different in Japan (most weddings take place in a Christian church, I believe), but that because it has an air of the exotic or mysterious.


It's not that commom the crosses, I think it's just a coincidence because the genre of anime you like. One Piece has a lot of cultures involved, so it's not that surprising to have some crosses, or a Bible like Bartholomew Kuma, and in the case of Mihawk it's more a reference to vapires. Asuna was part of a guild that have a holy symbol, the cross that she have remember the guild's symbol, crosses like that it's commom in medieval themes and in RPG games, like Sword Art Online. Most of medieval animes or animes that have magic use the western culture, so a lot of crosses and "sisters" appear. And I think is not because of the crosses, just the western culture it's more popular in this genre of anime and has more variety of things.

If you search, most of the animes are not related to crosses or to christianism, just a few, and because that I say again, it's just the genres of anime that you like xD


Hideaki Anno is notorious for stating the crosses in Evangeline are pointless. Well I personally believe that EVA is trying to use existing themes to get its point across, the show is also filled with Buddhism references. For instance when Shinji is running away he is sitting under a statue of Hariti Goddess/Demon for protection of children.

The main use of crosses in EVA is simply that it looks cool and to a mainly atheist country with a history of Buddhism; it looks interesting and stands out.

I do believe that since the USA has a history with Christianity we are all guilty of putting emphasis on certain symbols. Its similar to how most Americans perceive the majority of anime characters as being white.

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