Japanese 2600th National Foundation Festival 1940

In 1940 the Summer Olympics were scheduled to come to Japan and at the same time the lavish Tokyo Exposition was planned. However, these grand plans were dashed by the escalting wars in Europe and China. Though disheartened (I imagine), the Japanese, being resilient, decided to expend all of that pent up festival energy on the 2600th anniversary of the founding of Japan by the mythical Emperor Jimmu. Although National Foundation festivals and celebrations had been held every year since 1872, the 1940 version was to be a pumped-up version of what had gone on before.

In my last few posts I have been writing a bit about the imperial dating system, and when visiting antique stores in Japan, you can find this dating system used here and there for dates before 1940 (2600). But the plethora of items designed to commemorate 1940 is amazing. Postcards, cups, bottles, trays, badges, buckles, plateware, children’s toys, medals, flags, banners–oh, the list can go on for paragraphs. The hysteria over this year (no doubt fueled by the media, which was no doubt urged on by the government) can be seen in the number of Japanese antiques labeled ‘2600.’ I’ll go easy on myself and just show you cups and the official commemorative medal. Here is a lacquered wood set of sake cups. They are inscribed ‘Imperial Year 2600 [1940] Sakai City Education Association.’

japanese sake cup

japanese sake cup

And here is the official medal made at the Japan Mint. Awarded to anyone who had some connection with the festival proceedings and operations; in other words, it was awarded to a lot of people. Both the men’s and women’s versions are below. The medal is the same but the ribbon is different. (The men’s version is on the left.)

japanese ww2 medal

Here is a close-up of the medal itself, which has the Imperial Palce Bridge as the main design with an Imperial Mum crest above.

japanese medal


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