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Justin Suan

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Hello,
My name is Justin. I am stationed at Yokota AFB. I found this flag in a wood case at an antique dealer. After clearing items off of it and opening I realized what it was. The name is written in older Kanji and is difficult to read. I would like to find out the soldiers name and were he is from. I noticed one of the signature is from Okinawa and one gentleman seems to be from Chinese decent. Any help will be appreciated.

Justin
 

Mike Cash

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Which one is from Okinawa and which guy is of Chinese descent?
 

Justin Suan

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Hello again,
I also have a huge Nobori banner I would like to have translate. Looks like he is from Tokyo. Wishing him good luck in war. Just can't read the name. Thanks again.

Justin
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Justin Suan

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Which one is from Okinawa and which guy is of Chinese descent?

Hey Mike,

The signature bottom slightly left of center is written in a Chinese Kanji characters. The signature on the left border center is a common name from Okinawa. Sorry my translation skills are very limited. Thanks for looking.

Justin
 

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Toritoribe

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It seems to me that almost all signatures on the flag were written by the same hand. (I mean, it seems like a fake.)


祝出征外村暢三君 東京 堀田潤次朗
Congraturations on your going to the front Hotta/Horita Junjirō Tokyo Sotomura/Tomura/Tonomura Yōzō

The banner was gifted from Hotta/Horita(both readings are possible) Junjirō to Sotomura/Tomura/Tonomura(three readings are possible) Yōzō. Tokyo is the address of the giver.
 

Justin Suan

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It seems to me that almost all signatures on the flag were written by the same hand. (I mean, it seems like a fake.)


祝出征外村暢三君 東京 堀田潤次朗
Congraturations on your going to the front Hotta/Horita Junjirō Tokyo Sotomura/Tomura/Tonomura Yōzō

The banner was gifted from Hotta/Horita(both readings are possible) Junjirō to Sotomura/Tomura/Tonomura(three readings are possible) Yōzō. Tokyo is the address of giver.
Thanks for the reply,

Thank you first off for the translation of the banner. I bought it a couple of years ago. It was one of the best condition ones I have seen and the largest. It carries all of it original hanging rope and tassels. I wish it had it original bamboo pole but most dont. As for the flag I can say this with one hundred percent certainty. This is original silk flag that is about 80 years old. I have seen many of these flags through the years and many replica or so called fakes. I bought this one because it was the best condition one I have ever seen. Found it folded very small in a one hundred years old chest that the dealer got from and old house near the base. I am also confused about how you see the handwriting to be from the same hand. There several distinctions between many of the signatures. I even see at least two different brushes used based of the strokes in the charters. Some of the signature have been written slowly with a wetter brush that have bled through the the silk while others used a a dryer brush and was signed quickly. Also there are different charters used. Some in a older form of Kanji with have not found anyone around this part of Japan that can read. Thanks for your reply but I am just looking for a translation not to have the flag authenticated. My thinking is that this was for an Officer from a prominent family. I also would guess the flag was never carried but left behind at home just base off of its remarkable condition which again is the best I have ever seen. Many thanks.

Justin
 

Mike Cash

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You don't find it odd there is no date or organization name?

I also find it odd that a dealer would not know what was in the box he had for sale.
 

Uncle Frank

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I can't believe how white it is. My 1971 flag which has been stored away in a box for years has really yellowed compared to this one. Maybe because mine is a cheaper material I guess.
 

Justin Suan

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Hey everyone,
These are all good questions. I have been collecting military items since I was twelve years of age so that almost a total of almost twenty five years. I run into a lot folks who get caught up in the details with military items. The claim items need to have a stamp if was made between this period or it needs to have mark in a certain spot and to be honest that's not always the case. I have learned there always the exception to the rule in many case. In the case of items made from family or personal in nature you will have countless variations.

For the missing unit or date again there are many possibilities. Maybe the person left before the flag could be presented. Maybe something happen to the person before they were sent to war or assigned to a unit. Maybe something happened to the person who had the flag made. Maybe they were unable to complete it for what ever reason. Another possibility was he was present a flag from the town or from a close family member and this one was an extra.

In the matter of the dealer not knowing what he had this is also not a surprise. Many of the antique dealers here get items from what is the equivalent to an estate sale in the states. They will buy out a whole house of furniture epically if it is more than thirty years old. It funny to watch sometimes because sometimes they just picked the items up and they are little inventory the items and putting price tags on things as they pull it from the truck. This gentleman I bought the flag from had so much stuff he had leave stuff outside the truck to sell because it wouldn't fit in his area inside with all the other vendors. They bring things especially on base because they sell it fast. Doesn't matter what it is if it is old or different Americans will buy it at higher prices than what they can sell off base. This guy had put prices tags on everything. As I looked over what he had he was going through a cabinet that had all sorts of old items in it. Looking over his shoulder I saw three or four folded material with traditional Japanese print on it. In the very back corner under a few metal objects Nothing had prices on it inside. I saw what looked like a silk handkerchief. I noticed one corner had a leather tab and string which I recognized as a flag type. So I asked him to see the flag. He looked at me like I was crazy. So asked him to see the silk piece or handkerchief and pointed to the corner. He finally saw what I was talking about pulled the other items off of it and handed me the folded silk. Touching it you could feel the age of the silk and smell it. As I reached the corners and open the flag I saw the signatures appear with the sun. The other thing that caught me off guard was the size. I about jumped out of my skin but I I kept my straight face. I looked at the dealer and he was surprised as I was to see what it was that was folded in the cabinet. I asked him how much. He reach to feel the flag and I handed it to him. He literally stood there for five minutes looking the flag over and I could tell he really didn't know what he had. He threw me a random number out to feel me out. I knew he had no idea what he had so I offered him what I had in my wallet which wasn't much at all. He accepted and I took it home. I spent a couple hours gently steaming out the heavy creases from it being fold for so long then took a few shots and took it directly to my frame guy on base who did a top notch job frame it to preserve it. So here we are.

As for the color. It really is not super white it is really mild cream color. My camera has an auto setting and made appear more white than it really is. Without a doubt a very old flag but in excellent shape for its age.

Again really need help from someone who really can read this type of Kanji. That way I can take the I formation through proper channels to find out who this person was.
 

Mike Cash

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I was referring to the name of the group or organization which presented him the flag. That many different family names present on the flag indicates it isn't just relatives. I would expect the name of an employer or neighborhood association or something on there. I doubt the high-ranking officer speculation because it is nearly impossible to imagine his rank wouldn't be on it or that the local Grand Poobahs could have resisted the urge to include their own organizations and indications of minor grandeur on the thing as well.
 

Justin Suan

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I was referring to the name of the group or organization which presented him the flag. That many different family names present on the flag indicates it isn't just relatives. I would expect the name of an employer or neighborhood association or something on there. I doubt the high-ranking officer speculation because it is nearly impossible to imagine his rank wouldn't be on it or that the local Grand Poobahs could have resisted the urge to include their own organizations and indications of minor grandeur on the thing as well.


Ahh I see. Have you not ever seen one missing the marks you speak of or is it that is just usual? As for the speculation it was only a guess. This much silk for a flag during war time conditions I would imagine wasn't common and expensive if they were made for purchase. Most example I have seen like this come from well off families or those of officers in the military around major cities. Anyone you know who can help with the translation that I may contact for help? Thanks for the insight.

Justin
 

Justin Suan

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Mike as far as the suggestion that the names of families were written by the same hand thought by toritoribe. What do you think? I'm not an expert on Kanji but I have studied handwriting in other languages. I see to many variations in patters and brush strokes to be the same person. Just thought I ask. Really like to find out the name in English and where it is from. I see the symbol for mountain and prefecture on the suns upper right corner. At least what I can see. Thanks again for the reply.
 

Mike Cash

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Mike as far as the suggestion that the names of families were written by the same hand thought by toritoribe. What do you think? I'm not an expert on Kanji but I have studied handwriting in other languages. I see to many variations in patters and brush strokes to be the same person. Just thought I ask. Really like to find out the name in English and where it is from. I see the symbol for mountain and prefecture on the suns upper right corner. At least what I can see. Thanks again for the reply.

The old kanji for prefecture had other uses as well.

I think that bit says 公王守山懸有道 and may refer to this guy:

http://admiral3166.ddo.jp/wiki31/ja/index.php/山縣有道

Given the context, it could be 公爵山懸有道
 
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Majestic

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Given the context, it could be 公爵山懸有道
 Yes, that looks right to me.

Justin, this has the look of a flag given in commemoration of a factory opening or, given the Yamagata Arimichi (山縣有道) reference, maybe it is in commemoration of some sort of agrarian pursuit. It doesn't look like it was given to a soldier. It looks very civilian. There are no patriotic slogans, no details of platoon or company or rank, no locations or dates. It is just a random collection of names - two of them are peers/nobility.

Edit: I should also say I don't have a clue as to what the biggest characters on the flag are. If those turn out to be some military slogan I will gladly revise my view. They are very odd characters though.
 

Justin Suan

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Wow...thanks for the info. Very interesting. I can see it being a commemorative flag for a factory or something of that nature. Everywhere I have been I hit a dead end with translation. This piece will be proudly displayed with my collection of items I will bring back from Japan. I know folks visiting will ask many questions about it so I want to honor the items by giving their history correctly. Thanks again for the feedback everyone. This piece has definitely not given up its secrets without effort. That is what I love about getting pieces of history like this. The stories of how I found them and also that I learn about Japan during this time by researching where they are from and why and how they where made. I lived in Japan for three years now and I will return even after my time here is over.

Justin
 

Mike Cash

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 Yes, that looks right to me.

Justin, this has the look of a flag given in commemoration of a factory opening or, given the Yamagata Arimichi (山縣有道) reference, maybe it is in commemoration of some sort of agrarian pursuit. It doesn't look like it was given to a soldier. It looks very civilian. There are no patriotic slogans, no details of platoon or company or rank, no locations or dates. It is just a random collection of names - two of them are peers/nobility.

Edit: I should also say I don't have a clue as to what the biggest characters on the flag are. If those turn out to be some military slogan I will gladly revise my view. They are very odd characters though.

The top one may be 土, and the second one looks like it as well, but I doubt it is. The third one looks like a ninja bent over mooning us. I'm still trying to figure out what it is, but think it is 手偏 anyway. The last one seems to be 小.

I wonder if this commemorates a visit to an elementary school by the Admiral/Chamberlain? I can't get over how very neat and legible many of the signatures are....almost as though written by people making their best efforts at good penmanship, as you might expect from youths of the day under the watchful eyes of their teachers. If so, then the other signatures I would expect to be those of the teachers.
 

Majestic

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Yes, I see what you are saying. With that bias implanted in my head, I can imagine it might say 安土山小 (with a very flamboyant 山).

It is indeed strange to see a flag where the main kanji characters are so fancy as to be illegible.
 

Mike Cash

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Yes, I see what you are saying. With that bias implanted in my head, I can imagine it might say 安土山小 (with a very flamboyant 山).

It is indeed strange to see a flag where the main kanji characters are so fancy as to be illegible.

It might be worthwhile for the OP to contact the museum dedicated to the Admiral's grandfather in Yaita and see it they can shed any light on it. Apparently he was quite a bigwig in the area back in his day (the grandfather, not the OP). I think I might ride my motorcycle up that way and have a look at it this summer. Looks mildly interesting and thoroughly off the beaten track.

山縣有朋記念館

I can't see 安 for the first kanji.
 

Justin Suan

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Thank you for all the information. I have been search the Internet on all you have both mentioned. It is all very fascinating.
 

Majestic

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Actually, it doesn't look anything like 安土山. I was thinking of 安土桃山, but ... I must have been drunk.
 
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