Welcome to Fortunes of War Militaria

Welcome to Fortunes of War Militaria! This website is an outgrowth of my interest in the study of Japanese World War Two era military history and of its material culture. More specifically, we present Japanese good luck flags, one-thousand stitch / good luck articles, off-to-war banners and other items that pertain to Japanese World War Two era military send-off celebrations. In addition, we include post-war G. I. souvenir of service flags and other flag related items of the period.

As my appreciation of and passion for Japanese good luck signed flags (hinomaru yosegaki) and 1000 stitch belts (senninbari) grew, I was disappointed by the lack of primary research material available on the subject. That void led me to write the book, Imperial Japanese Good Luck Flags and One-Thousand Stitch Belts, released in 2008 by Schiffer Military Books. The publication’s release caused a burgeoning of interest among a disparate group consisting mainly of military and art historians, textile aficionados and militaria collectors. Following this, inquiries and/or the desire to obtain authentic items started to come to me from all over the world. This site developed as a natural progression in the search, by novice as well as advanced collectors, for genuine items. It is my intention to satisfy all of those goals.

In 2021, Elm Grove Publishing released my latest book, the award winning Battle Carried: Imperial Japanese Tiger Art Good Luck Flags of World War Two. Battle Carried examines the history, meaning and cultural context of tiger imagery as it applied to the decoration of good luck flags. It has proven to be a resource for artists and scholars of Japanese culture, as well as for historians and collectors of flags and Japanese wartime memorabilia.

F.O.W.M. – Proud Financial Supporter of
the National Honor Flight Network
We donate a minimum of 10% of net sales to this organization. To date, FOWM has donated $2,000.00 to support the National Honor Flight Network. I thank you and so do those who have benefited from your                                              generous contributions. (The use of this video was granted by permission from Honor Flight  Network.) 

About Dr. Michael Bortner

My name is Dr. Michael Bortner. I first became interested in Japanese good luck signed flags more than fifty years ago, when I was in grade school. A passion for flags in general, later developed into a specific interest in finding and then acquiring an authentic, vintage hinomaru yosegaki. As luck would have it, a chance encounter with a dealer at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Southern California, led to that early purchase. My first one-thousand stitch belt or senninbari came a few years later, when I discovered a beautiful tiger stitched example at the old Great Western Show in Pomona, California. I still own both items; each form the center of a collecting passion that burns brightly today.

As my collection of signed flags and senninbari belts developed, so too did my interest in Japanese military send-off culture and customs. After years of study and research, I was led in 2008 to write the book, Imperial Japanese Good Luck Flags and One-Thousand Stitch Belts, (autographed copies available for sale on this website). That 286 page hardcover book along with its numerous illustrations, photos and translations made available for the first time some of the important history and meaning behind the development, fabrication and presentation of the good luck flag and one-thousand stitch belt.

The success of my first book has been met by the 2021 release of my award winning book Battle Carried: Imperial Japanese Tiger Art Good Luck Flags of World War Two. This 196 page hardcover book examines the history, meaning and cultural context of tiger imagery as it applied to the decoration of good luck flags. Through hundreds of extensive color images and detailed close-ups, as well as woodblock prints and rare vintage photographs, this book superbly illustrates some of the rarest and most highly sought after specimens of tiger art flags, many of which are identified to their soldier, sailor and airmen owners.

This website is an outgrowth of the expanding interest in the continued study of World War Two era military history and of its material culture. More specifically, we present Japanese good luck signed flags, one-thousand stitch/good luck articles, off-to-war banners and other items that pertained to military send-off celebrations.

I am currently a member of the following research or collector based organizations: The Company of Military Historians, The North American Vexillological Association, Textile Society of America, The American Historical Association, The Society For Military History, The Ohio Valley Military Society and the MAX Certified Dealer Program.

                        Recent Updates

!10-10-2021! The website will be closed between 10-12 and 10-27-2021.  We will have no computer access, so no messages will be answered and no orders will be filled until after our return. Once we have reopened, orders will be filled by the earliest  dates in which they came through. Take care and have a terrific next few weeks!  Michael Bortner-FOWM

!10-3-2021! We updated the “Militaria & Miscellaneous” section today by adding some colorful World War Two Patriotic Themed Kimonos. We also added a new image and quote to the “Feature  Image Gallery“. Enjoy! FOWM

!09-27-2021! Today we added a couple of nice items to the “Militaria and Miscellaneous” category: a rare pouch for the Japanese Type 99 Light Machine Gun, and a Japanese navy canteen. We would also like to thank those of you who have recently left very kind comments and reviews concerning both of our books. The reviews section for each book have been updated. FOWM

!09-21-2021! Today we added some wonderful Japanese World War Two Patriotic-Homefront Themed Kimonos to the “Militaria and Miscellaneous” section of the website.  We also updated the “Feature Image Gallery” with a new photo and quote.  FOWM

!09-15-2021! Foreward-Clarion Reviews released its review of Battle Carried today.  I am delighted with their feedback and have posted a link to that review below:

https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/battle-carried/

Thank you for taking the time to have a look.  FOWM

!09-14-2021! Today we updated the website and added a new “Feature Image” and “Quote” to the gallery. Thank you for the very nice email messages regarding our most recent additions and updates. FOWM

!09-08-2021! There was an update today in the “Flags/Good Luck Flags” section of the website. We posted a number of beautiful good luck flags, including one with tiger art and another with dragon art. Both flags are quite desirable and rare.  We also listed a number of other good luck flags, added to the others posted earlier.  Have a look, the “Feature Image Gallery” was again updated.  I would like to thank everyone for their support of the website. FOWM 

!08-28-2021! Today we updated the website in a number of categories. The “Flags/Good Luck Flags” section was updated with a few really nice signed Japanese flags.  We also made additions to the “1000 Stitches” category with a couple of new Senninbari belts.  Finally, the “Feature Image Gallery” was updated with a hand tinted image and quote. Thank you for having a look!  FOWM

!08-17-2021! The website will be closed from 8-18-2021 thru 8-26-2021.  I will be away from the computer and will not be returning email messages or taking orders.  When I return, all orders will be filled in the order in which they were received. Have a terrific week, and I will see everyone again soon!  FOWM

!07-29-2021! More updates continued today with a larger Japanese Battle Flag added to the “Flags/Battle Flags” category. We also continued to add more beautiful and rare 1000 Thousand Stitch Belts to the “One Thousand Stitches” category.  FOWM.

!07-28-2021! Today FOWM added a few stunning 1000 Stitch Belts to the “One Thousand Stitches” category; these Senninbari are definitely unique. We also added a new hand-tinted photo image and quote to the “Feature Image Gallery“. On a final note, thank you all for your terrific email messages and support of our business. With quality items becoming tougher to find, we will strive to bring you the nicest examples we can find.  FOWM

!07-26-2021! Greetings from FOWM! Today we added a couple of rare items to our website. The first addition is in the “Flags” category, “Good Luck Flags” section. There you will find a rare flag, signed by a Japanese Lieutenant General who, for a time, was in charge of the infamous Chemical Warfare Research facilities program.  We have also listed a rare Bullet Proof Vest, packed with coins. The rear of the vest has a colorful Japanese National Flag sewn to it. The vest is listed under the “1000 Stitches” category, “1000 Stitch Vests” section, but is not a senninbari.  These are two great items and there will be more to follow in the days ahead!  Thank you for looking.  FOWM  

!07-24-2021! I hope everyone is having a great weekend! Today we updated the website by adding a new collector interview to the “Articles” section. Our interview with long-time good luck flag collector, Paul Garnier, has been posted. I would like to thank  Paul for this informative interview. FOWM

!07-21-2021! The website was updated today with a couple of beautiful flags. In the “Flags” section of the website, under “Good Luck Flags“, we added a beautiful flag signed by a Japanese Vice Admiral. This particular Japanese Admiral was the Director of the Kure Naval Shipyard at the time the super battleship Yamato was built.  Under the “Battle Flags” section we added a very colorful silk Japanese Battle Flag. The “Feature Image Gallery” was also updated with a new addition. Thank you for having a look!  FOWM

!05-06-2021! I wanted to first say “Thank You” to everyone who has purchased my latest book, Battle Carried: Imperial Japanese Tiger Art Good Luck Flags of World War Two; the  response has been overwhelming and I am grateful to you all for your continued interest. In addition, I updated the website today with a new illustration in the “Feature Image Gallery“. There will also  be an update to the “Flags” category, probably within the next 10 days. I will post a more exact date, in the next few days. Stay tuned…! FOWM 

!03-28-2021! I wanted to update everyone on the continued positive reception for my book, Battle Carried. I was notified that the International Rubery Book Award nominated Battle Carried in its category for Best Book. I am pleased for all of the terrific interest! As I receive additional details, I will let you know.  Today we also updated the “Feature Image Gallery“.  FOWM   

!03-26-2021! My newest book Battle Carried: Imperial Japanese Tiger Art Good Luck Flags of World War Two has arrived!  I will begin to follow up with those of you who placed pre-orders for books shortly.  I am still accepting early orders; details may be found by going to the “Reference Books” tab located on the “Homepage”.  I want to thank all of you who sent me encouraging messages over the last few months. Your interest has made this project so worthwhile. Michael Bortner  

!03-08-2021***BOOK NEWS*** Pre-release copies of my new book, Battle Carried: Imperial Japanese Tiger Art Good Luck Flags of World War Two should be available within the next few weeks. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, prior to the standard release date of April 30th, please send your contact information to me, via the email form, listed under the “Reference Books” section on the toolbar. Be sure to let me know which book you would like to order. I appreciate the terrific support on the project from everyone! FOWM

! 08-28-2019 ! Today I am posting a link to my friend and fellow Elm Grove Publishing author, Ron Werneth’s website, (www.ronwerneth.com).  Ron is the author of two acclaimed books on Japanese World War Two aviation. The first book is, Beyond Pearl Harbor: The Untold Stories of Japan’s Naval Airmen. His second volume, published this year is titled, Fall of the Japanese Empire: Memories of the Air War 1942-1945. Ron spent a number of years living in Japan, where he had access to some of the last surviving Japanese airmen from the War. His interviews with them combine to make fascinating and poignant “reads”. In addition, about 3 weeks ago, Ron was invited to give a guest interview at the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans, LA (www.nationalww2museum.org) and to discuss his latest book. That interview makes for another terrific insight into the lives of both Japanese and U.S. airmen of the Second World War. You can view that program by following the link here: (https://livestream.com/nww2m/events/8752971)  Thank you for having a look!  FOWM

! I am always interested in purchasing Japanese Good Luck Flags with Tiger Art on them. Before deciding to sell to someone else or taking your chances with online auctions, please consider contacting me here first.