The Comfort of a Shinto Shrine

(between 1937 and 1941)

IHL Cat. #2680


A color lithograph patriotic fan sample print, likely created between 1937 and 1941 during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), depicting a mother with her two children, each child holding a Japanese flag.[1] In the background, partially hidden by lush foliage, is a Shinto shrine, likely one of the Gokoku-jinga (護国神社) built during the Meiji era in each prefecture to honor the spirits of the war dead. Originally known as shōkonsha (招魂社), in 1939 the Ministry of Home Affairs designated 117 of these shrines as Gokoku-jinga shrines, with Yasukuni jinga in Tokyo being the main shrine.[2] Deemed militaristic, these shrines returned to their original names after the end of the Occupation in 1952. Whether the presence of an unnamed Shinto shrine in this print suggests that the spirit of the women's husband is enshrined there or simply serves as a comforting symbol to the mother and her daughter is unknown.

The print carries the sample catalog number そ印 参百九拾貳號 (so in sanbyaku kyū jū ni 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.

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

[2] To Dream of Dreams: Religious Freedom and Constitutional Politics in Postwar Japan, David M. O'Brien, University of Hawai'i Press, 1996, p. 2.

Print Details