Patriotic Fan Sample Prints

(created between 1937 and 1941)

The Prints in Context

The below prints, sales samples of designs for rigid fans (uchiwa), featuring various patriotic themes including stanzas from patriotic songs, slogans to mobilize the home front and cartoon-like images of troops in China, were issued in support of national mobilization for "Total War" (sōryokusen) during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).[1]

The Second Sino-Japanese War was one of the most destructive conflicts of World War II, beginning with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937, and ending with Japan's surrender on September 2, 1945. This war marked the culmination of growing Japanese aggression toward China following the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895). "With half of China ruined, 20 million Chinese (military and non-military) dead, and 480,000 Japanese soldiers killed on Chinese soil, the eight-year conflict was one of the bloodiest in world history."[2] 

The beginning of the war also marked "a new phase in the government’s plans for national mobilization . . . as Japan prepared for full-scale war with China."[3] On September 9th 1937, Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro announced the National Spiritual Mobilization Campaign (Kokumin Seishin Sōdōin Undō) to "ensure maximum popular support in wartime."[4]

"The purpose of this campaign was to integrate the population of Japan more fully into the state, and heavy emphasis was placed on ideological propaganda to strengthen popular identification with the state and foster a sense of nationalism.”[5] In other words, the state sought to inculcate in the citizenry "the culture of sacrifice needed in a time of Total War and for the formation of a new order in East Asia."[6]

[1] The Second Sino-Japanese War is known in China as the War of Resistance Against Japan. 

[2] Library of Congress "Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945: A Resource Guide," [accessed 9-12-23]

[3] "Women, the State, and National Mobilization in Prewar Japan," by Jane Mitchell, thesis, History and Asian Studies, University of Adelaide, 1986, p.39. [accessed 9-6-23]

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] "Entertaining War: Spectacle and the Great 'Capture of Wuhan' Battle Panorama of 1939," by Kari Shepherdson-Scott, appearing in The Art Bulletin, Vol. 100, No. 4, December 2018, p. 97. [accessed: 9-9-23]

cover of typical uchiwa sample book

reading 優美団扇新画帳 利休乃巻

Patriotic Fan Prints

The below prints of sample fan designs (uchiwa-e mihon 団扇絵 見本), reproduced through chromolithography, were removed from a  sample book of fan prints (uchiwa mihonchō 団扇見本帳, or uchiwa gachō 團扇画帖) used  to show wholesale customers the range of available designs. The below designs all carried patriotic themes as was appropriate for the late 1930s when these designs were created. The fans were two-sided, with one side reserved for advertising, as can be seen in the images to the right from the collection of the Saint Louis Art Museum. There is no available record of who the designers of these prints were, although we can assume they were employees of, or contractors to, the companies who produced the uchiwa.

Rigid Fan with Design on One Side of Signalman aboard a Warship with Lyrics from the Warship March, and an Advertising Handbill on the Other Side with Design of a Warplane Flying near Mount Fuji

Saint Louis Art Museum 884.2010

Click on an image for details

The Heroes of the Death Squad

IHL Cat. #1935

Not Forgetting

IHL Cat. #2686

One Hundred Million People, One Heart, Total Mobilization

IHL Cat. #2685

Father, How Strong You Were

IHL Cat. #2684

After Victory, Tighten Your Helmet Cords

IHL Cat. #2687

National Defense Women's Association

IHL Cat. #1936

Mounted Soldiers

IHL Cat. #2683

For the Sake of the Nation

IHL Cat. #2682

Long-Term Construction

IHL Cat. #2681

The Comfort of a Shinto Shrine

IHL Cat. #2680

Patriotic Girl

IHL Cat. #2679

Revere the Gods, Respect one's Ancestors

IHL Cat. #2678

Children's Health and Vitality

IHL Cat. #2677

Patriotic March

IHL Cat. #2675

Thank You, Soldier

IHL Cat. #2674

With Patriotism and Government Bonds

IHL Cat. #2673

Unwavering Loyalty and Japanese Spirit

IHL Cat. #2672

Patriotic March

IHL Cat. #2671

Patriotic Girl

IHL Cat. #2670

Pacific Ocean March

IHL Cat. #2669

Gift from a Soldier

IHL Cat. #2676