In pre-war Japan the Navy and also commercial naval companies were highly regarded by the general populace. When a new IJN warship was launched, elaborate ceremonies were held. These are called shinsui-shiki (進水式) in Japanese. During these ceremonies, commemorative items were offered for sale, most often sets of colorful postcards.  These were usually issued in sets of 3 with an envelope, and complete sets demand a high price these days. Single cards can be found for a fraction of the cost.

Here are two cards from the warship Hirado:

The style of combining real photos of the ship with colorful designs was often duplicated on other commemorative postcards. Some of the rarer cards have elaborate and highly imaginative designs.

Commercial ship companies followed the IJN and had launching ceremonies for their ships as well. A variety of commemorative items were also made, including postcards. Here are two postcards from the mail carrier Heiyou-Maru (平洋丸), which was launched in 1929.

There were other kinds of items made to commemorate these launchings, so I’ll show a few in the next posts.


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