Original Imperial Japanese WWII Hand Painted Cloth Good Luck Flag with Army Shussei Nobori Silk Banner

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This hand painted cloth flag is marked with battle quotes such as "Banzai", and "Good Luck". As with many good luck flags, the flag is marked with the Japanese phrase 久長 運 武, which reads Bu un Chou kyu ("May your military fortunes be long lasting.").

It is also signed with the names of many friends and family, some radiating out from the center. The flag measures approximately 32" x 29", and is made of what appears to be rayon cloth, an early faux silk semi-synthetic material made from wood, with the red "sun" dyed into the middle. Flag is in very good condition and is the real deal: a genuine USGI "bring back"!

The flag itself has a few water stains and some splits where the paint / ink has degraded the fabric, as well as light overall age toning from being around 80 years old. The writing is still clearly legible, and this would make a fine display piece for a wall or glass table, or even a translation project. The flag still has the original corner ties fully intact, along with gold foil faux leather corner reinforcements.

When Japanese men left for their military service, community organizations such as the local branch of the Imperial Reservists Association (teikoku zaigo gunjinkai) and the Greater Japan National Defense Women’s Association (dai nippon kokubo fujinkai) organized various celebrations, culminating in send-off parades to wish the troops well as they marched off to the local railway stations or ports. These send-off ceremonies were called sokokai and the participants in parades carried banners with the names of the recruits on them. The Japanese term for banner is nobori, and the exact Japanese name for them depends on the slogan. Here we refer to them as a “shussei nobori” or “Off To War Banners”.

They came in a wide variety of sizes, including some that were huge, though most commonly they are around five or six feet in length (150-180cm). These banners were usually made of silk or an early silk-like synthetic like rayon, though cotton was also used.

This example is approximately 77” in length with a 17” width. Unfortunately it is torn at the bottom. We have been unable to translate the Kanji that is painted on it, making for a great research opportunity.

These made for a most impressive display and signified to everyone that a particular man was being celebrated for his induction into the military. Kanji characters on the nobori normally gave the name of the man going into the military, as well as the name of the person or organization sponsoring the banner. The artwork on each shussei nobori was generally chosen by the person purchasing the banner from a banner or flag store. Once selected, the name characters were painted onto the material by the shop owner.

Both these items are contained in a silk/rayon bag.

The Good Luck Flag, known as hinomaru yosegaki (日の丸 寄せ書き) in the Japanese language, was a traditional gift for Japanese servicemen deployed during the military campaigns of the Empire of Japan, though most notably during World War II. The flag given to a soldier was a national flag signed by friends and family, often with short messages wishing the soldier victory, safety, and good luck.

The Japanese call their country's flag hinomaru, which translates literally to "sun-round", referencing the red circle on a white field. When the hinomaru was signed, the Japanese characters were usually written vertically, and radiated outward from the edge of the red circle. This practice is referenced in the second term, yosegaki, meaning "sideways-writing". The phrase hinomaru-yosegaki can be interpreted as "To write sideways around the red sun", describing the appearance of the signed flag. This particular example is completely unique and is written in old KANJI. The writings are mainly Japanese names of this soldier's family and friends with quotes and phrases.

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