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 signed 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 one-thousand 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.

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 $1,500.00 to support the National Honor Flight Network. I thank you and so do those who have benefited from your generous contributions. 

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.

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.

New Listings

! 08-18-2019 ! We have been busy adding new items to the website and will continue posting more over the next few days. I want to thank everyone who has supported us with messages and purchases. Because of you, we have made further donations to the Honor Flight Network. If you have not seen the latest update or viewed the emotional video, please scroll down this page and have a look.

Today the “Feature Image Gallery” was updated. In addition, I have continued to add Off-To-War Banners to the “Banners” section of the site; most are quite beautiful! FOWM. Ja ne……

! 08-17-2019 ! Today we listed more items in the “Amulets of Protection” category of the website, including a super collection of custom art tiger senninbari and cloth tiger art amulets, all in their original storage package, with owner/presenter notations. In addition, we listed a historic, temple stamped cloth amulet, presented to a Japanese soldier and dated following the Battles of Shanghai and Nanking. These are very distinct and out of the ordinary items. Thank you for having a look. FOWM

! 08-16-2019 ! ***BOOK NEWS*** I want to thank everyone for the many messages and well-wishes sent my way with regard to my latest book, Battle Carried: Imperial Japanese Tiger Art Good Luck Flags of World War Two. Many of you have expressed an interest in purchasing a copy of the book or in placing a pre-release order. The book’s publisher, Elm Grove Publishing has been extremely helpful to me in readying the manuscript as well as in preparing all of the marvelous illustrations. They are excited to get the book finished but like many things, it is in the queue, with other author’s books ahead of mine. As updates come to me, I will send them along to all of you. I would like to thank everyone again for your interest and communications; they are all much appreciated!  Regards, Michael Bortner   

! 08-15-2019 ! We continued with more updates today. In the “Banners” section, we added another beautiful shusei nobori, from the collection of a former Japanese soldier; this is a real stand-out banner example. In addition, we added a fabulous tiger art amulet to the “Miscellaneous Amulets of Protection” section- a very impressive example. Thank you for having a look!

! 08-14-2019 ! Today we continued additions to the website. In the “Banners” section, a number of very colorful and interesting shusei nobori were made available. Under the “Miscellaneous Amulets of Protection” category, a very unique good luck style flag/amulet with important notations: named and dated with detailed unit information, to a sailor in the Sasebo 2nd Special Naval Landing Forces, who shipped over to China immediately following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, around the time of the Battle of Shanghai. We will continue with the additions over the next few days. Thank you for having a look and thank you for all of your messages. FOWM

! 08-13-2019 ! Hello from Fortunes Of War Militaria! Today we added a superb off-to-war banner to the “Banners” section of the website.  Along with that posting, we updated the “Feature Image Gallery” with a colorful vintage photo. Over the next few days we will be posting numerous updates to our website. The listings will include a number of incredible off-to-war banners, many that were named to the same soldier. In addition, we will also be adding a couple of senninriki belts, one named in two places to its former owner (sewn in name and black inked kanji name), as well as another with 2 custom painted tigers: one on the outside as well as an inner tiger painted amulet! There will also be a number of good luck flags, including a rare example with a paper ofuda or amulet sewn to it and writing that dates it to the early China War years. A second good luck flag will come with its former owner’s group of paper amulets. Another offering will include a small charm bag, packed with its former owner’s paper amulets, nearly all of which are identified. There will also be a standard senninbari with amulets, as well as a rice paper packaged grouping of  2 custom made tiger amulets and a larger, tiger senninbari with coins sewn to the outside, all from the same owner and all with red ink stamp.  Finally, there will be an outstanding and rather large tiger art painted amulet on cloth that has been signed. Again, this will be an extensive update and will probably take a couple of days to complete; please stay tuned!  Michael Bortner 

! 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.