“Signed” Japanese Flag Made as a Souvenir For GI’s
Cotton flag, approximately 24 by 34 inches, with a hand painted rising sun in the center, surrounded by numerous kanji. The flag gives the general appearance of a hinomaru yosegaki, a flag that was traditionally given to Japanese soldiers and which had patriotic slogans and good wishes written upon it by family and friends. However this flag was in fact made by an American soldier or Marine to imitate the hinomaru in order to be sold to other military personnel who did not have the opportunity to get combat souvenirs for themselves. There was a thriving market for souvenirs in all theaters of operation during World War II, and some enterprising G.I.s, realizing that there was money to be made in satisfying the demand for souvenirs, created them for sale to other soldiers. This flag is one example of this trade. The cloth is toned, but the flag is in very good condition.
The flag has multiple “statements” and, while the kanji are well written and nicely balanced around the sun, they set forth nonsensical declarations such as “True forgetfulness for the sake of birds” and “Energy for the people’s sake”, while there are also writings that might be viewed as making some sense, even if they might not have been found on an actual hinomaru, such as “Output for the Nation’s Sake”. The absurd slogans and the fact that all of the writing is by one person (as opposed to an actual hinomaru, which was signed by multiple individuals) clearly establish this flag as a product of a World War II “souvenir shop” that was no doubt located “Somewhere in the Pacific….”. The slogans can be read as follows in the positions of a clock, with the sun being the clock:
– 6:00: Emperor Ro-kun [Emperor Young Lord];
– 6:30: Energy for the people’s sake;
– 7:00: True forgetfulness for the sake of birds;
– 8:00: Takada Daisaburo. Takada is a family name; “dai” is a number counter;
– 8:30: Greater Japan Imperial Army;
– 9:00: Nippon Banzai;
– 11:00: Output for the Nation’s Sake;
– 3:00: Makes no sense at all. “Emperor Grandfather sa ro”
And while some of these statements may seem to make sense when read in English, the fact is that they were supposed to have been written by a Japanese person and only the two writings at the 8:30 and 9:00 positions make any sense in Japanese!