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Friday, July 25, 2014

Japanese Good Luck War Flag

In doing some research a couple of days ago for something wholly-unrelated to this, I found a Japanese flag - which we'll discuss below as a secondary item, as research on it was somewhat fruitless. But it did lead me to another tidbit earlier today...

... something called a hinomaru yosegaki (good luck flag) -日の丸寄せ書き - that individual soldiers would carry around with them during WWII. These national flags (Red circle on a field of white) would be gifts to individual soldiers from family or friends and would have messages on them wishing the victory, safety and luck.

The Japanese flag is known as hinomaru (which means 'round sun'). When these flags were signed, the 'signatures' would radiate out from the rising red sun to appear as rays of light. Yosegaki means 'sideways writing'.

These personal flags may have first come around the first Sino-Japanese (China-Japan) War of 1895-95, but that's probably from just a few people doing something like that... it didn't really catch on until Japan started going to war in China in the 1930s, in Manchuria through the end of WWII from a period of about 1937-1945.

Which leads me to what I was originally going to write about - a WWII Japanese regumental unit flag - or whatever it is.

As far as the Unit flag that individual soldiers in the Army or Navy belonged to, these regimental unit flags are rare, as each would have its own colors and standards applied to the flag.

Japanese organizational colors and standards from Army and Navy units are extremely rare.

Why? Well, one reason is that such regimental flags from WWII were only issued once... and if it wore out, it wore out - no new replacement flag was reissued. 

The other reason is that after Japanese Emperor Hirohito talked to Japan by radio on August 15, 1945, saying Japan had surrendered, Japan's GHQ (General Headquarters) ordered all units to burn their flags before the Allies would arrive on August 28 and the formal surrender on September 2, 1945.

As such, there is only one officially recognized regimental flag still in existence.... the flag of the 321st Regiment on display at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

Of course, that doesn't mean that there aren't more, as Allied soldiers might have picked up a few souvenirs before coming home.

As you can see, this silk flag has a lot of fringe around it - but it's golden in color. Traditionally, the Japanese army fringe color was purple, so it's kind of a mystery as to exactly what it is for, except that it is a Unit flag.

It is supposed, through some translations, that the golden fringed flag is a 1945 Military Aviation School flag - for cadets, possibly training to be part of a bomber crew.

While it conforms to the size and style of regimental flags, the insignia and golden yellow fringe are atypical, leading to speculation that it might be a flag for veterans or alumni.

Width of Hoist
Length of Fly

This is a double-sided silk flag with machine stitchings. It contains leather reinforced corner patches with grommets.

Anyhow... At least you learned about Japan's hinomaru yosegaki.

Andrew Joseph

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