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A Yosegaki Hinomaru is a Japanese traditional flag that was given to a soldier and was tradition for friends and family to sign it with wishes of good fortune.[1]


According to Vexillologists, it is believed the first example of a flag came from China from around 1030-221 B.C[2] Some sources indicate that signed flags became part of the military man's off-to-war gear, along with a senninbari during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895.)[3]

Types and Inscriptions

Normally, some kind of exultation such as Buun Chokyu is written across the top within the white field. Loosely translated into English, Buun Chokyu means "May your military fortunes be long lasting." Dark, medium sized characters may normally be seen that run vertically down the right or left hand margin of the flag. These usually occur in one, two or three columns and are generally the names of the man receiving the flag and the name of the individual or organization presenting the gift to him. Any good luck flags that pre-date the Manchurian Incident (1931) should be considered rare. It is generally agreed that most hinomaru yosegaki seen today come from just before or during the period of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945.) [4]

Role and Veteran Accounts

In Sid Phillips's book, You'll Be Sor-ree, he describes the role of Japanese flags played in the Pacific War, "Every Jap seemed to have a personal silk flag with Jap writing all over it and a large meatball in the center."[5] There are numerous books describing these souvenirs taken home by Marines and Army Infantry. Another example is Eugene Sledge's book With the Old Breed, "The men gloated over, compared, and often swapped their prizes. It was a brutal, ghastly ritual the likes of which have occurred since ancient times on battlefields where antagonists have possessed a profound mutual hatred." [6] In a 2008 article of the Monroe News, a World War II veteran had a Japanese flag he brought from fighting in the Pacific, "You didn't have time to search," he said. "We were in a lot of battles." He said he didn't search every Japanese soldier he shot. Mr. Buckingham, a staff sergeant in the Army, believes he found it while fighting on the island of Mindonau in the Philippines. "I don't know the exact place as we were in five different engagements," the Monroe resident and former Village of Carleton president said. "I think it was back in the mountains. I don't think I got it off a body." He said you didn't bring large souvenirs home from the war, like a sabre, for fear that someone would steal them before they even got on ship. A flag could be concealed much easier in your suitcase.[7]

Preservation and Restoration

According to the National World War II Museum, the preservation guide has a list of recommendations for storing and preserving synthetic materials such as Japanese flags(Hinomaru Yosegaki). Store artifacts in climate-controlled areas because it can increase damage from aging. Never store the artifact or artifacts in attics or basements. Also keep the artifacts away from bright light such as sunlight and florescent lights which have large amounts of UV rays. If displaying a flag or any textile artifacts, make certain that is supported by a backing. Never let it hang by its own weight. If storing in a box, make sure the artifact is flat with no creases. Do not store artifact in sealed plastic bags, however use muslin bags. Human beings are a hazard to these artifacts as well. Our hands contain oils, sweat, and make-up. These increase damage to the artifact. Wear clean cotton or nylon gloves when handling heirloom textiles.[8]


  1. Gary Nila and Robert Rolfe, Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces 2006 Osprey Publishing
  2. Bortner, Pg. 16
  3. Imperial Japanese Good Luck Flags and One-Thousand Stitch Belts by Dr. Michael A. Bortner, 2008
  4. Imperial Japanese Good Luck Flags and One-Thousand Stitch Belts by Dr. Michael A. Bortner, 2008, Schiffer Military Books
  5. Phillips, Sid You'll Be Sor-ree Copyright 2010 Valor Studios, INC.
  6. Sledge, Eugene B. With the Old Breed 1981 Presidio Press Trade Paperback Edition
  7. Cousino, Dean. "Vet Returning Japanese Flag from WWII -" - The Monroe Evening News, Monroe, MI. Web. 08 July 2010. <>.
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