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.

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. (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.

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 Listing 

! 10-14-2019 ! I began the week today by updating the “Feature Image Gallery” with another  vintage, hand-tinted photo and quote. This week, I will also be listing another Collector Interview. In our discussion, Chuck Scarl will review with us his interest in Japanese samurai swords and good luck flags. Along with the previous interviews, this one will be found under the “Articles” tab.  FOWM 

! 10-08-2019 ! Today we updated our “Articles” section by posting a most interesting interview with Japanese militaria collector, Tom Prall.  We are very fortunate that Tom not only shared with us  his insights into the hobby but he also provided images of a number of rare Iwo Jima items that were bring backs by his grandfather.  In other news, we also posted a new image to our “Feature Image Gallery“.  Thank you for having a look and for each of your positive comments; they are all appreciated!  FOWM 

! 10-03-2019 ! Today we continued to update the “Sake Cup” category by adding additional examples to the listings. Under the “Flags” category, we expanded the listing of “National Flags“. There will be more items posted in the days to come!  FOWM 

! 10-01-2019 ! We continued to add more cups to the “Sake Cup” category today. Thank you for visiting!  FOWM

! 09-30-2019 ! Thank you for having a look at the recently updated, “Feature Image Gallery“. In addition, I have added a new category, “Sake Cups“. Most of the cups but not all, will have some kind of Japanese flag representation on them. These are quite colorful and fun to collect! FOWM

! 09-27-2019 ! As the days shorten and Summer slips into Fall, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank each of you who have made purchases from our site, and/or who have written me with your kind and valuable comments or suggestions. You are much appreciated! 

The site has been updated to reflect an addition to the “Good Luck Flags” category. In addition, I have added a colorful good luck charm pouch grouping, with translations, to the “Amulets of Protection” section of the site. Thank you for taking a look…. 

! 09-26-2019 ! Greetings from FOWM! Today I listed a comfort bag with colorful red and white Japanese battlefield/national flag artwork. The bag is in great condition and comes with its rare to find original paper advertisement. Thank you for reviewing this listing under the “Militaria” category.   

! 09-23-2019 ! Today the “Feature Image Gallery” was updated with  a new photo and quote. Enjoy! It was terrific seeing everyone at the MAX Show this past weekend. Thank you for stopping by our table and saying hello. As we say goodbye to Monroeville, I look forward to seeing everyone next year at the new venue in York, PA.  Safe travels until then…. FOWM 

! 09-21-2019 ! The category under the “Articles” tab was just updated with a fascinating discussion about Japanese Type 90 non-standard and camouflage painted helmets.  Thank you for having a look.  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

! 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   

! 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.