Monday, July 8, 2013

The Japanese Flag Story

                                                  The Japanese Flag Story
                A true story written about the gift I received of a Japanese flag from WWII
                               Written in 2013 and rewritten 2/15/2016 unedited     
                                                        Howard Yasgar
      It was 1995 when I first met Russel. I thought he was an interesting guy. He told me that his business was driving all around the country buying government surplus aircraft parts. He said that he was buying the kind of things that he was able to sell at specialized aircraft and industrial flea markets.
     When Russel first walked into our office in Miami, I thought he was a pleasant enough looking fellow, he was about five foot six inches tall, had wavy brown hair and kind of chubby, I saw that his clothes were a little dirty.
      Russel told me that he was thirty five years old and he was a confirmed bachelor. He said that he lived in a house trailer located on a rural road on the outskirts of Naples Florida. Russel said he never did any laundry, every two weeks he simply threw all his dirty clothes in the trash and he went into a Goodwill store in Naples and he bought all new clean second hand clothing.
     That day Russel and I discussed what he needed and I learned more about what he did for a living. I detected by our conversation that he was a fairly intelligent guy, and he knew quite a lot about the government surplus parts business, as well as the aircraft parts business.
      Russel said he just loved calling on small government surplus parts dealers, he said he especially liked finding companies that were hidden away in small towns, because he could always buy parts cheaper from them.
     I got to thinking, about my own company, as I was just getting started with buying and selling government surplus parts, perhaps this was a good opportunity for me to utilize Russel’s talents and we could both somehow work together.
     Our company had recently started advertising worldwide on the internet, so now due to our using of this new method of sales, it had opened my eyes to a new potential market.
     Russel agreed that it sounded like a good idea. He said he could find the stuff, and we could advertise and sell it
     So one day Russel came to see us with a surprise. It was a white silk Japanese flag with a big red sun right in the middle of it. It was about two feet wide and eighteen inches tall with all kinds of Japanese writing all over it.
     Russel said he had a booth at a flea market and right next to him was a WW2 war veteran who had captured the flag. He said the fellow told him that he had personally taken the flag off a Japanese ship that was anchored next to where the surrender of WW2 took place.
     The former WW2 veteran said that he had kept the flag for over fifty years, never showing it to anyone.
     Because Russel thought it was a good story and the flag so unique, he bought it for us.
     Upon receiving it, I found inside the flags plastic bag was a three by five card with the WW2 veterans name and his home town hand written, on it.
      I tried every way to find him on the internet, but I had had no luck. I had hoped to find out more about the Japanese flags story and perhaps was written on it.
     Once we realized that I couldn’t find the veteran, I started asking if anyone could translate the Japanese writing on the flag, but no one had any idea.
     That’s when we all started joking about it and everyone said that it might just be a menu for lunch on the Japanese ship.
     The flag was so nice, and so clean and unusual, that we had it specially mounted, in a museum quality gold frame, paying about three hundred dollars to have the work done. We then hung the flag up in our office.
      Because none of us spoke Japanese, we hoped that we hung the flag right side up.
      I have to admit it was truly a beautiful flag and I had assumed that Russel must have paid quite a bit for it, also we also thought that the flag might have some great historical value, if we could ever find someone who spoke Japanese and could translate it.
      One day, I was discussing the Japanese flag with a friend in who lived in Minnesota.
He suggested that I look on Google, or that I search on Ebay to see if there was any information regarding the flag.
      It was a good idea and I wondered why we hadn’t thought of doing that a long time ago.
     Well, we looked, on the internet, and in a way I’m sorry I did. There were plenty of similar Japanese flags for sale on Ebay.
      It appears that every single Japanese soldier had one, and the all writing on it were all his family members wishing him well.
     We learned that it was not a valuable historical Japanese flag, and it appears that our cost of framing cost more than the value of the flag.
     Well, I guess it was Russel’s thought behind it that counted, it’s still a beautiful flag.  


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