So much for the "fabric of our lives"...
August 28, 2009 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find a distressed cotton Japanese navy "rising sun" flag? Or just a regular cotton one so I can distress it myself?

A coworker picked up a distressed 3x5' thirteen-star cotton American flag to hang on his wall above his desk, which looks awesome. We both agree this means I need a matching Japanese navy flag (I have a pinup with this motif, but that's not work-appropriate of course, so this is the next best thing.)

The only problem is finding a distressed rising sun flag. Or, barring that, one made of cotton so I can distress it myself. Apparently all modern flags are made with synthetics like nylon or polyester, which does not distress properly as far as I know and would just look like used tissue paper. Also the originals were apparently in silk. I could spend the $250+ for a real period silk flag, but that's probably a bit north of my budget. And I don't know anybody crafty enough to make a convincing one.

Where does one get a cotton Japanese navy flag? Googling, I can only find them in nylon or polyester or expensive original signed WWII keepsake.
posted by Phyltre to Shopping (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You do know that the Japanese Rising Sun flag is, in many ways, the equivalent of the U.S. Confederate flag, right? It's not just a navy flag - there are a bunch of people who would find it offensive.

Having said that, polyester/nylon does distress pretty well -- I have a polyester bag with a print on it and over time it's distressed pretty nicely (and accidentally). I'd say - get a flag, scrunch it up and rub the scrunched ball lightly on sandpaper so you get irregular wear marks, open the flag and scrunch it again and repeat. It'll look fine.
posted by suedehead at 2:39 PM on August 28, 2009


This auction appears to have what you want (material is 綿 -- cotton).

You'll probably need to go through a Japanese reshipper. I have used Crescent Shop in the past.

"It's not just a navy flag - there are a bunch of people who would find it offensive. "

IMO the IJN earned the right for their flag to be honored these days. Their Navy was institutionally against expanding the war but was put in a hard place by events and was committed to doing their best to defend the Empire and its ill-gotten gains.

They certainly didn't cover themselves in glory in their early China operations, so I can certainly understand Chinese peoples' offense at honoring the IJN this way.

posted by @troy at 2:50 PM on August 28, 2009


Seconding what suedehead said about the flag being offensive. It's a touchy symbol, especially if you have any Korean or Chinese coworkers around. Hell, I'm Japanese-American, and I don't know that I would feel especially comfortable with the Rising Sun Flag being prominently displayed.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:50 PM on August 28, 2009


You do know that the Japanese Rising Sun flag is, in many ways, the equivalent of the U.S. Confederate flag, right? It's not just a navy flag - there are a bunch of people who would find it offensive.

Phyltre, for your sake, I hope you don't work with any first or second generation Asians whose parents or grandparents were subjected to Japanese occupation.
posted by thisperon at 2:51 PM on August 28, 2009


Ebay has this one for sale, but it is only 10x12 inches.
posted by soelo at 2:55 PM on August 28, 2009


Here's a suggestion: go pre-Meiji. That would match the 13-star thing and be unlikely to cause offense to any reasonable person.

http://crwflags.com/fotw/flags/jp-kuni.html

The downside is that you're unlikely to find any of these pre-printed. It's a project.

Living in Japan, I can confirm that the "confederate flag" thing is a good analogy. It really doesn't matter what the navy's intentions were. You don't wanna be the guy arguing "No, it was about state's rights/freedom from Western imperialism!" Even if you win, you lose.
posted by No-sword at 3:11 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This flag is still currently used by the Japan Maritime Defense Force as its primary flag. I have trouble believing that a flag currently in official use by a country could be considered offensive by a reasonable person.

On that scale almost no national flags would be safe territory because most countries have done something evil to a particular nation or group in their history at some point.
posted by Phyltre at 3:17 PM on August 28, 2009


An off-the-wall idea, but why not make a flag with the Tokugawa mon (crest)? It represents the rulers in Japan at the time the Betsy Ross flag was used in the US. You could get a distressed piece of cotton, and stencil the symbol onto it.
posted by Houstonian at 3:17 PM on August 28, 2009


I'm a non-Asian American in my 30s, I think I'm pretty reasonable, and I would find it weird (in a "this is an HR issue" kind of way) to see a Rising Sun flag in the workplace.
posted by Houstonian at 3:22 PM on August 28, 2009


Phyltre, I understand that your intentions are benign, but there are still plenty of people who do find it offensive. I would tell you the same thing if you wanted to display a manji flag, which is a perfectly legitimate and even positive symbol in many places in the world. No-sword put it best: "Even if you win, you lose."
posted by Diagonalize at 3:29 PM on August 28, 2009


This flag is still currently used by the Japan Maritime Defense Force as its primary flag. I have trouble believing that a flag currently in official use by a country could be considered offensive by a reasonable person.

The official state flag of Mississippi, in official use, incorporates the battle flag of the Confederacy. Do you believe that a reasonable person could consider the Confederate Battle Flag offensive?

Really, this is a bad idea.
posted by Justinian at 3:36 PM on August 28, 2009


Tthe fact that the flag is still in use is part of the reason why some folks hate it so much. Like Diagonalize, I'm not judging you, and I'm not even going to get into what I think about the issue, but there's a real chance that someone (and maybe someone you might not expect) will think a lot less of you for flying that flag (or a similar-looking variant), even if it's just in fun. So, you know, just make sure you are prepared for possible ugly drama if that's what you do.
posted by No-sword at 3:39 PM on August 28, 2009


[a bunch of comments removed - no offense folks but you can email the OP dirctly or go to metatalk if you want to talk more about the ramifications of this particilar decision]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:10 PM on August 28, 2009


In compliance with jessamyn, metatalk.

To un-derail, can anyone suggest antiquing or distressing methods for artificial fabrics?

I am also welcome to alternate flag suggestions.
posted by Phyltre at 4:44 PM on August 28, 2009


If you specifically want a military banner, how about one of these puppies?

On the other hand, if you just want one that's old and recognizably Japanese-looking, I don't think the old imperial chrysanthemum flag has any nasty connotations these days.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:07 PM on August 28, 2009


You could also try using the JGSDF flag, which is similar enough in design yet perhaps different enough to avoid the stigma of the Naval ensign.

One thing to keep in mind is that although the Japanese NSDF does use the rising sun emblem on their naval ensign, they are: a) a navy, so they use it in that context, rather than hung inside a civilian office far from Japan, and b) Japanese, so it means something a whole lot different to them than you, regardless of your stance on the war.

I agree with other posters: no matter what you do, you will inevitably face an uncomfortable situation -- do you really want to deal with that at work?
posted by armage at 5:16 PM on August 28, 2009


list of Japanese flags in history. The chrysanthemum would seem like a much better idea to me.
posted by jacalata at 7:03 PM on August 28, 2009


I bet someone at Etsy would make one for you. Click on the "Custom" tab and post your project for bids.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:53 PM on August 28, 2009


I believe otherwordlyglow has it, mostly. I am going to commission my own flag. I'm going to mock it up in Photoshop, with the naval flag as a basic motif to change significantly, and have it created both as vector art and a physical cotton flag for the wall. Etsy will be perfect. Maybe I'll order two so I can weather one. Thanks again Metafilter!
posted by Phyltre at 8:29 PM on August 28, 2009


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