My Display Wins Best of Show at the

Military Collectors Club of Canada 2006 Show!

            The Military Collectors Club (MCC) of Canada is Canada’s main organization for collectors of militaria like medals, badges, insignia, uniforms, etc. It has chapters across the country (for more details see MCC of C Club Page). Each year one chapter hosts the annual convention and show. Our Calgary Chapter hosted the 2006 convention and show August 12-13, 2006 at the Sheraton Cavalier Hotel. I won a Gold Award and Best of Show for my display entitled “A Japanese Soldier Goes to War”. It showcased artifacts related to the ceremonies held when Japanese soldiers were called up for active duty during the period ending in 1945. We had limited space to accommodate all the exhibitors, so I took only two, six-foot tables (I later found out I could have had three). Here is an overall  shot of my display. The table skirts were supplied and applied in such a way that I could not use my usual burlap for this purpose.

            The long banners at the ends and the three smaller ones in the centre are shussei nobori, send-off banners that were carried in the parades held to send off the troops. The big writing down the middle of each banner is a soldier’s name. The flag with the rayed sun and purplish-blue bottom (lower left) served a similar purpose but was made in rare flag format. The two red-sun-on-a-white-background (“meatball”) flags are hinomaru yosegaki, or good luck flags decorated with slogans and signatures of well-wishers. The bluish flag with the strange white symbol in the middle in the lower right is the flag of the Dai nippon fujinkai, or Greater Japan Women’s Association, one of the groups that helped organize the ceremonies. I constructed a bamboo frame to hang the cloth artifacts and used pairs of tiny rare earth magnets to suspend them from ribbons wrapped around the horizontal bamboo poles.


            The first case has service medals from Japan’s wars during the 1894-1945 period; badges from the Teikoku zaigo gunjinkai, or Imperial Reservists’ Association, the key group that ran the send-off ceremonies; a hokobukuro, or service records bag; and some of the items that would be in such a bag (soldiers and reservists had to keep the items at the ready in these bags in case of call-up). In the middle there are some period photos of Japanese soldiers and of a soldier’s funeral. Along the bottom are wound and bereavement medals as well as cigarettes with the Imperial chrysanthemum crest that were sometimes given to returning soldiers.


            The second case featured items from a Corporal Yonejiro Ogita, a machine gunner born in 1916 in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture. He was called up in 1937 and killed in action near Shanghai in 1938. Besides his good luck flag the display includes his service record book, some of his documents, the wooden plaque his parents put on their door frame to indicate they had a soldier at the front, and the ribbons they wore at his funeral. The hokobukuro in the previous case was also his.


            The third case features a thousand-stitch belt (senninbari) prepared to bring a soldier good luck, comfort bags (imonbukuro) used to send treats to soldiers at the front, and original photos of soldiers at their send-off ceremonies.


            The last case had items from the women’s and youth associations who assisted in organizing the send-off ceremonies. Notable amongst these are the sashes from women’s organizations and the medal in the upper left, which was the highest merit award given by the Dai nippon aikoku fujinkai (Greater Japan Patriotic Women’s Association), a very rare medal.


            Here I am at the awards banquet on Saturday evening, August 12, receiving the Best of Show award from the National President of the MCC, Lou Grimshaw. He is a retired Canadian military officer, hence the medals he is wearing.


            Here I am in front of my display after receiving my awards. Besides the Best of Show plaque in my left hand, I also got one of three Gold Awards, which I am holding in my right hand. They give out three bronze, three silver and three gold awards, as well as Best of Show, Best in Theme and Best Canadian. The theme for 2006 was the Battle of the Somme, since it was the 90th anniversary of that conflict. The judging was done by a panel of five senior members of the association.


            Here is the Best of Show plaque and the Gold Award. The Gold Award was a lead soldier under glass. I am told the soldier is a replica of a Britain’s lead soldier of the 195th series from the 1930s.


            This show was the first time I had done a non-gun display and also much smaller than my usual gun displays, so I was very gratified at the positive reception it received.


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Last updated: August 15, 2006. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.