Children's Health and Vitality

(between 1937 and 1941)

IHL Cat. #2677

Cover of Women's Club (婦人俱樂部 / Fujin kurabu), July 1939 Supplement: "Children's Health, Family Happiness, Children's Energy, National Strength Training Method, Cavities, Tuberculosis."


A color lithograph patriotic fan sample print, likely created between 1937 and 1941 during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), depicting two young children with fists clenched and arms raised in a salute-like posture.[1] The inscription on the print reads, 子供の健康一家の幸福 子供の元気国の力 ("Children's Health: The Happiness of the Family, Children's Vitality: The Strength of the Nation.") Physical fitness for all ages was "a core component of spiritual mobilization" a movement formalized by government decree in October 1937 to bring a wide range of nationalist organizations under government control to rally the nation for total war against China.[2]

While these children look hail and robust, with the beginning of food rationing in 1940 and its expansion in 1941, children would experience a "health shock,"  suffering, along with the entire population, as food resources were increasingly allocated to the military.[3]

The print carries the sample catalog number そ印 参百(so in sanbyaku go jū hachi gō [392]). These numbered fan prints (uchiwa-e 団扇絵) were gathered into a sample book (uchiwa mihonchō 団扇見本帳, or uchiwa gachō 団扇画帖.) to show wholesale customers the range of available designs.

Note: Transcriptions and translations are my own unless otherwise noted.

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

[2] Certain Victory, Images of World War II in the Japanese Media, David C. Earhart, M.E. Sharpe, 2008, p. 112. 

[3] For a fascinating analysis of the impact of the war's "health shock" on children see Health Shocks, Recovery and the First Thousand Days: The Effect of the Second World War on the Growth Pattern of Height in Japanese Children, Eric B.Schneider, et. al., CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14808, May 2020 Available at SSRN: [accessed 9-14-23]

Print Details