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Help Looking for some help with a flag!

brennan909

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Hello all. New to the forums. I am an amateur collector of gear/firearms/artifacts of ww1/ww2. I absolutely love history so I recently acquired what I believe to be a Japanese good luck flag. I know next to nothing when it comes to Japanese Kanji, or the typical markings on their flags, thus I am here looking for some help. I had several questions. The most important one would be... is this a real ww2 era flag? (I really hope so, though I didn't spend a whole lot). Also, is there anything of note as to what is painted on this flag (Unit designation, dates, name of recipient, company/location?). Thank you!!! - Chris
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Majestic

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武運長久 (Būun chōkyū) written from right to left across the top. "Good luck in battle"
祝壮途 (Iwai sōto) written vertically on far right. "Good luck on your expedition/undertaking/adventure"
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(samuhara) written in four large characters surrounding the red disk in the flag. This is a word associated with Shinto religion and creation myths of Japan. It refers to the first gods of Japan. The kanji characters are non-standard kanji, and aren't included in the normal MS- IME.

The recipient of the flag is Koizumi Kunitarō 小泉國太郎.
The rest of the writing is just random names.
I can't tell if its real or not. There is nothing obviously fake about it, but there is nothing definitively authentic about it either.
 

brennan909

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Thank you majestic! As new to Japanese flags/militaria, is there anything obvious I should be on the hunt for when it comes to fakes? I bought it from a militaria dealer (I know not always the most trustworthy source) but nothing stood out as an obvious forgery or addition.
 

Majestic

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Avoid flags where the writing all looks similar: similar width of the brush strokes, similar size and orientation of the kanji, etc. It can indicate that one guy was writing all the names at one sitting with one pen or brush (rather than various people signing their names at various times with various brushes and pens). The left side of your flag has about thirteen names that all have the same size and the same type of brush stroke. It seems odd that thirteen people would sign in order, with the same kind of writing. So, what are we to make of that? Does it mean the flag is fake? Not necessarily, but it also doesn't fill me with confidence. The dedication "Congratulations on your adventure" isn't common, but it isn't innacurate either. It is written rather poorly, and normally one would expect someone with good calligraphic skills would write the most prominent phrase. Again, it doesn't make the flag a fake, but it also doesn't impress me.

Also, avoid any flag that comes advertised with a big name (Tojo Hideki, for example). A flag with a big name attached to it should also have a big provenance attached to it. Most of the flags I've seen that seem authentic, are simple, almost boring things, wishing the recipient good luck. They might have a few patriotic slogans, but they aren't overly garish. Authentication is tough, especially if you don't speak the language. Authentication is tough even if you speak the language, but are not used to seeing these items.
 

mdchachi

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The left side of your flag has about thirteen names that all have the same size and the same type of brush stroke. It seems odd that thirteen people would sign in order, with the same kind of writing.
This seems to be a common concern but just thinking logically (knowing nothing about these things) it seems like it would be the norm for one person to sign for multiple persons. Logistically I would think it would be difficult to get the flag to all the people of a particular group -- school team mates for example -- in order to sign it especially if there was some urgency in getting the flag finished by some deadline such as deployment.
 

brennan909

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Thanks for the input majestic and chachi! Yea, I would think a bigger red flag would be if the entire flag was done in the same handwriting, but I guess I am where I started with maybe real, maybe fake. I will say if this is a fake, whoever did it put some effort into it to say the least, with aging stains and some slight fading/discoloration, and it seems the Samuhara Kanji wouldn't be a common thing to be faked, but who knows. I still think its pretty neat, and I'm glad I purchased it, as a nerd for history.
 

mdchachi

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Thanks for the input majestic and chachi! Yea, I would think a bigger red flag would be if the entire flag was done in the same handwriting, but I guess I am where I started with maybe real, maybe fake. I will say if this is a fake, whoever did it put some effort into it to say the least, with aging stains and some slight fading/discoloration, and it seems the Samuhara Kanji wouldn't be a common thing to be faked, but who knows. I still think its pretty neat, and I'm glad I purchased it, as a nerd for history.
Keep in mind that there are many contemporary fakes because making these flags for souvenirs was a cottage industry immediately after the war. So the fact that it's aged doesn't necessarily mean it's authentic.
 

Majestic

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I don't think a factory or school would appoint one person to write the name of people. Obviously I can't say it never happened, but its just like a yosegaki today - the purpose is for everyone to write their name so that the item is personalized, rather than for the recipient to have a list of all the names written by proxy. There are a lot of people named Takahashi (高橋) on that flag, and taka is written using in a particular style. There are a lot of names that contain the kanji 石 (ishi: Ishida, Ishiyama, Ishibashi) and the way 石 is written is nearly identical. Again, nothing definitive, just things that, in their entirety, chip away at credulity.
Samuhara is unusual, but there is a Samuhara shrine near Osaka, and this could be from a neighborhood around there, where the phrase is not so out-of-the-ordinary. Can you give us a close-up of the faint red seal at the top of the picture?
 

brennan909

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I was also thinking, with your translations Majestic. Do you think maybe this is someone in the Navy? Good luck on your voyage/adventure sounds almost like a naval saying, though not necessarily, but that phrase usually applies to some kind of great trek like a naval voyage? Just a guess on my part though.
 

Majestic

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Yes, that is just what I wanted - unfortunately I still can't make it out (although I'm fairly sure it doesn't say Samuhara Shrine).
I wouldn't read too much into these set-phrases. I don't think it hints at navy vs. army.
 

Toritoribe

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In addition to Majestic-san's explanation, the writer(s) did the same mistakes like wrong kanji or wrong stroke orders most likely because they were actually not familiar with writing kanji, and just copied the shapes of original ones. My impression is that your flag is questionable (and this is a humble expression of "it's a fake").
 

brennan909

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Very well Tori, thanks for the input. I do have a question though, and maybe I missed it up in the earlier responses but there is incorrect Kanji on the flag?
 
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