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The Banner of Golden Brocade

Article about: The Banner of Golden Brocade This is Part 1 of a 2-part story on Rising Sun Flags. Please do not interrupt until you see the photo saying “End of Part 1” “D’OH! --- but, it’s still an attrac

  1. #41


    1939 November -- “The Battleship Flag March”

    On the morning of 3rd November, 1939 tattered commemorative battle flags were raised throughout Japan, at naval bases, schools and ships. In Tokyo, a battalion of 600 Naval Landing Forces from the Yokosuka Naval Base was assembled in front of Shinbashi Station, and starting at 10 AM, they paraded from there, through the center of Tokyo to the Ginza, and unto Nihonbashi and Ogawa-machi. Trailing behind the NLF, came a parade of 200 boys of the Japan Sea Scouts (海洋少年団).

    They were all marching to the tune of a new melody, not familiar to the spectators, who lined the streets. This was a march that had been commissioned by the Ministry of the Navy for this occasion and day. It was titled, “The Battleship Flag March (軍艦旗の歌)”.

    The occasion was the 50th Anniversary of the introduction of the Gunkan-Ki, as the Naval Rising Sun flag was hoisted for the first time 50 years ago to the day, on 3rd November 1889.

    At 11:15 they paid their respects to the war-dead at the Yasukuni Shrine and marched further to the Imperial Palace to end their parade at Hibiya Park. Festivities like lectures and movie showings were held at all naval bases that day, and everyone enjoyed a moment of euphoria and nostalgia, as Japan had won a decisive victory in the big Battle for Wuhan the previous year, and things were looking up.

    The song’s first and fifth verses sum up our story of the Banner of the Golden Brocade. They go like this.

    Verse 1
    “Brilliant is the radiance of the Rising Sun”
    “As the Battleship Flags sail the Four Seas”
    “Behold the badge of might of the Japanese Empire”
    “That marks them as His Majesty’s ships”

    Verse 5
    “Born in the reign of Emperor Meiji”
    “A Chrysanthemum in bloom for a thousand years”
    “The 16 rays of glorious light”
    “Shall continue to shine for Eternity”

    Here is the Battleship Flag March
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Banner of Golden Brocade  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 06-15-2016 at 09:49 AM.

  2. #42

    Default The Meiji French Connection, then and now

    The Meiji French Connection, then and now

    Mr. Kunihiro Hayashi (林邦宏) is a photographer in Tokyo, a handsome 70-something, who, in his portrait photo, is the spitting image of the late Toshiro Mifune, the actor known for his Samurai films and his portrayal of Japanese generals like Isoroku Yamamoto in WW2 films.

    That he is a dead ringer of Mifune is only incidental, and that is not where I’m going. What interests me more is that at least 1/8 of him is not Japanese, meaning that a Great Grandfather was a foreigner. The common family name of Hayashi (林) means a growth of trees larger than a bush, but smaller than a forest, and if you add one more tree (木) to the name, it becomes the family name Mori (森) which is obviously Japanese for forest. His grandfather must have thought that the family did not rate enough trees to be a Mori, so they settled on Hayashi, as he thinks Grandpa was trying to approximate what in English is a grove or “bosquet” in French.

    The family became naturalized in 1907, in his grandfather, Harunobu’s (治信) generation, who was born Arthur Charles du Bousquet. And this Arthur’s father was the French army officer, Albert Charles du Bousquet (1837-1882). This family name in Japanese history is recorded as ジュブスケ (Jyu-Busuke) and his gravestone in Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo has him as 治部輔 (Jibusuke).

    This man has actually made so many appearances in my stories already that it is no longer fair to keep him the “anonymous Frenchman”. In the canteen story, he was among those that got the Last Shogun in a French general’s uniform. In the War medal story, a Frenchman that helped his good friend, Yuzuru Ogyu design the Order of the Rising Sun and develop the system for Japan’s medals and orders ( His epitaph at the Aoyama Cemetery was by Ogyu ). He was also consulted extensively regarding the consequences of Japan sending troops to Taiwan in 1874. Now most recently, he was the Frenchman that gave the army the idea to establish the Regimental Standard of 1874. He was also the man that put the Emperor of Japan in military uniform instead of the civil servant style attire His Majesty first sported.

    He was the man behind the scenes that helped shape the Imperial Japanese Army. Later on, Major Jakob Meckel sent by Prussia seems to have left a bigger mark in Japanese history books, because much of Japan’s victories in the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars were credited to his teachings of strategy, but du Bousquet was there in Japan almost 20 years before Meckel and had the job of whipping an Army out of Yakuza, gamblers, daredevil firemen and other riffraff, the only types that would volunteer for a newly formed Japanese Imperial Army.

    Du Bousquet was a 1st Lieutenant in France’s 31st Infantry Regiment, when he was sent to Japan in 1866 by Napoleon the Third as military advisor, upon request by Japan’s Shogun, Iemochi Tokugawa. He came to Japan as part of the first French military mission, composed of 6 officers and 9 NCOs.

    The group arrived by ship in Yokohama on 12th January 1867, but soon in November of that year, the Shogun returned Sovereignty to the Emperor, and the Boshin War (or the “Last Samurai” War to many) erupted in January of 1868. So their training of Japanese troops was barely 1 year, and the Shogunate, who they came to serve, was no more. Thus they were ordered to pull out of Japan, but 5 members deserted and quit the French Army to continue to fight for the Shogun’s followers, against the Emperor’s troops, who carried the Banner of Golden Brocade. That was the real story, behind the Hollywood movie.

    Du Bousquet, however, neither joined the rebels, nor left Japan, but remained as an interpreter for the French Embassy. He had good reason not to want to return to France, as he had fallen in love with Hanako Kuroda, a Samurai’s daughter. But the tradition of the Samurai would not allow the Kuroda family to let their daughter marry a commoner, so she first had to be adopted by her uncle, who was a doctor, in order to go around the problem of marrying below her station. In 1870, he eventually got hired as an expatriate employee of the new Japanese government, first for the army and further for what would become the Upper House of parliament, and assisted them with translations and research in connection with the establishment of the Imperial Constitution of Japan, besides his specialty in military matters.

    His marriage with Hanako was finally sanctioned by the Meiji government in 1876, and together they had 6 children. He continued to live in Japan even after his contracts ended with the Japanese government, to serve as French Consul and died in Tokyo in 1882.

    Three of his kids returned to Europe but Hanako would not let go of the youngest son, Arthur, so he remained in Japan and when he was 27 years old, became Harunobu Hayashi, whose grandson, Kunihiro now keeps in contact with the French relatives, though the families have been oceans apart for nearly 3 generations.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Banner of Golden Brocade   The Banner of Golden Brocade  

    The Banner of Golden Brocade  

  3. #43


    In post 36, I mentioned that the Navy's Emperor's flag was the Banner of Golden Brocade in 1870. Here it is. The white part is red and the black part is in gold. Furthermore, the Sun orb is gold and the other side has the silver moon.
    It shows that the navy was also very conscious of the Nishiki-no-Mihata tradition. This was replaced by a red flag with a white Chrysanthemum crest in 1875.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Banner of Golden Brocade  

  4. #44


    Hi Nick, another fascinating and educational article, thanks for taking the time to put it together for us.

    Regarding your comments on the "smaller than regulation size" Naval flags, I have this small multi-piece construction flag that is hand stitched. It is roughly 43cm x 69cm with the diameter of the sun at 23cm. The construction reminds me of other larger sized original flags.

    Do you think that this size flag would possibly fall in to the category of "extra battle flags" used when in battle?



    The Banner of Golden Brocade

    The Banner of Golden Brocade

  5. #45


    Chances of that being a WW2 flag are small in my opinion.

    That is a size 1, too small to be a battle flag for any WW2 vessel.

    Such small rising sun flags, however, were officially used by civilian yacht traffic after the war, before the self defense forces reclaimed the design in 1954. Also the Maritime Self Defense Forces do have size 1 flags for Zodiacs like below. SDF versions are also multi-piece construction, but current versions are machine sewn.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Banner of Golden Brocade  

  6. #46


    As I ended up telling you about the use of the rising sun ensigns on private yachts after the war, let me add a nice little story about a special tradition of the Maritime Self Defense Forces of today. They hold Japanese yachts in very special respect, and whenever a yacht is passing, there will be an announcement for all members on deck to salute the yacht by waving their caps. They still do this in gratitude to yachts, because they feel indebted to yachtsmen, who kept the rising sun flag alive after the war.

    After the war ended, ex-navy yachtsmen could not bear to see the tradition of the ensign die away, so they sought approval from the American Occupation forces to make the Rising Sun flag the official ensign of the CCJ (Cruising Club of Japan), which the Club duly registered internationally, so it could not be taken. Then upon establishment of the Maritime Self Defense Force in 1954, the club happily returned the design to the navy. A somewhat similar tale to that of the Army Standard in Yasukuni.

    The UK also honors vessels of certain yacht clubs by allowing them to fly the White Ensign reserved for battleships.
    They are being honored for their part in the Dunkirk evacuation.

    MSDF vessel saluting a passing yacht in gratitude for keeping the Rising Sun Ensign alive after the war.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Banner of Golden Brocade  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 09-14-2016 at 08:34 PM.

  7. #47


    Thanks for the info Nick, appreciated.



  8. #48


    Here's a rare 1960 war film, "The Independent Misfit Platoon goes West" about a platoon of misfits on a mission to recover a lost regimental banner along with its bearer in enemy territory. It only has Chinese subtitles, but the opening scene features the tattered banner and the exchange between the emperor and regimental commander from the bestowal ceremony of the banner. You can also see how another soldier immediately takes the standard as the flag bearer takes a hit, making it like a game of football.

  9. #49


    Guy, if you are watching the film, you will notice halfway a scene in which an imposter posing as a general staff officer reprimands a soldier saying "How can I trust a soldier to find our standard, when his balls can't even find their way around the place?". This is a joke based on the army regulations that required IJA soldiers to keep testicles to the left side in their pants.

  10. #50


    I need to modify my statement slightly. In post 45 above I mentioned that Size 1 was too small to be used by any WW2 vessel, but I learned that the navy did have such a small flag before 1932. A regulation released on 31st January 1914 says that the cutter row boats were to fly size 2 battle flags, but when sailing as a yacht with sails up, they were to fly a size 1.

    This regulation, however, was further amended on 4th August 1932 to say that cutter boats were to fly size 2 battle flags at all times, unless the boat was smaller than 6 meters in length, in which case it was to fly a size 1.5.

    So before WW2 there was a time cutter boats under sail flew the kind of small flag Russ showed, but from Aug. 1932 Size 1.5 became the smallest naval rising sun flag.
    Last edited by nick komiya; 01-03-2017 at 11:55 AM.

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