This past Sunday I came home, spread the flag out on my apartment floor and took a picture of it and blasted it out to all 600+ of my closest Facebook friends. I really didn't expect much of a response, seeing how it wasn't a picture of a baby, cat or cat baby. Within a few minutes I got a handful of responses. The following day, people continued to message me and reply to my post. Some responses were simply words of encouragement and intrigue, while others were people doing whatever they could to help me find answers. I've lost track of where images of the flag are being shopped around but am grateful for every single one of those efforts.
Then, yesterday evening I received a response from a woman by the name of Lisa. Her cousin, Namiko, is Japanese and was able to make out some of what was written on my blurry little photo. She pointed out what was written at the top: 武運長久. Namikio said it's a common phrase for wishing continued luck in the fortunes of war. She also informed me of a group by the name of Obon 2015. Their mission is to return all yosegaki hinomaru by August of 2015 because that's the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. And the best part? They'll help you return the flag! How cool is that? I'm glad she found this group, because I'm a horrible Googler and never would have found them.
I haven't emailed Obon 2015 yet, because I'm waiting to hear back from my dad since technically this is his flag. Or rather, he's the one holding onto the flag until we can get it back to where it belongs. But if I don't hear back from him soon, I'm going to go ahead without him. I'm getting antsy.
Over the next few days, I'm going to be reaching out to universities to see if I can locate people willing to sit down with me to try and figure out what's written on the flag.
One other thing I learned is that the handprint on the flag is not from the soldier it was taken from. It was probably from his wife or child. That just breaks my heart. Watch the video below for some more details about yosegaki hinomaru.