Earlier this month, the on-line version of the well-known Japanese magazine “Friday” featured an article about The Obon Society.
A non-profit organization located in Astoria, Oregon, The Obon Society has for years been creating an incredibly unique bridge between Oregon and Japan.
Specifically, The Obon Society’s mission is to collect Japanese flags that were autographed by friends and family and carried or worn by Japanese soldiers sent out to fight in WWII. Called Yoseigaki Hinomaru, these flags were often taken from fallen Japanese soldiers by American servicemen, and then brought back to the United States as war souvenirs. In their later years, many of these American servicemen came to regret their actions, and wanted to reunite the flags with the dead Japanese soldier’s descendants. With little to no knowledge of Japanese language and culture, these elderly Americans did not know where to turn to return the flags properly.
Fortunately, The Obon Society was founded to find the families of the fallen Japanese soldiers, based on the faded scribbles remaining decades later on the Yoseigaki Hinomaru — no easy feat. Needless to say, the families are extremely surprised and grateful when a flag is returned to them.