HomeJapanese AmericanCouple hopes to return WWII good luck flag to Japanese family
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Couple hopes to return WWII good luck flag to Japanese family

A Japanese American couple visiting an antique shop were stunned when they saw a piece of World War II history right before their eyes.

It was a good luck flag, a flag carried by Japanese soldiers signed by family and friends to wish them luck on the battlefield.

“We were so shocked this was a real one,” said Hiroko Nogi of Atascadero on the Central California coast to KSBY.

Hidehiko and her husband Hiroko have made it their mission to return the flag to the family. The one they have is signed by the family and friends of Major Koyunagi.

Good luck flags were at times confiscated by American soldiers and taken home as a souvenir. An organization out of Portland, Oregon known as the Obon Society has dedicated itself to returning the flags to families in Japan.

 “What you view as a flag with writing. For the Japanese, it’s absolutely the spirit of the soldier himself,” said Keiko Ziak, Obon Society’s co-founder.

So far they’ve managed to locate hundreds of those families in Japan and reunited them with the flag.

One such flag belonged to the deceased soldier, Yushiro Narita. The flag that had been in the possession of the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville has been returned to Narita’s niece, Masako Sugimoto and the wife of his nephew, Ms. Katsuyo Narita, reported the museum.

It sought the help of the Obon Society to get the flag back to the Narita family which took the flag to the soldier’s gravesite and held a brief ceremony.

“This is one of many cultural / spiritual differences with how many ‘Westerners’ think about life and death. To the Japanese, the ancestors are able to hear. Their spirits are with us here on earth. When they go to the cemetery to light a candle, burn incense and give beans and rice, this is all part of the communication with ancestors who preceded them,” 

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