Japanese Laquered Wooden Tray
A Japanese black laquered wooden tray bearing Japanese motifs and un-translated kanji.
According to scholar Angelika Koch, “The heading seems to suggest that this was given out to commemorate the completion of service in the navy 軍 満期 紀年. I cannot say much about the date, it is certainly from Japan’s imperialist period, so possibly 1930s and 1940s.
The poem potentially ties in with the cherry blossom motive on the platter (i.e. returning to the gardens of your homeland). Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney has written extensively about cherry blossom symbolism in Japanese nationalism of that period and how this deeply ‘Japanese’ motif was manipulated at the time. Simply put, the idea was that soldiers should give their lives for the Emperor like the ephemeral cherry blossoms that only bloom for a short time before falling.
It reads the garden of kori, which is going to be a bit of a bit of a bit of a bit of a bit of. The second part is a waka poem (Karuki mi ni/omoki tsutome o/tsutsuganaku/hatashite kaeru/furusato no niwa) and roughly translates as ‘A heavy burden for a light body. As expected you have returned safely to the gardens of your homeland.’.”
According to scholar Peter Kornicki, “I was wondering about this and found on the Internet a slightly different version of the poem ending with ‘Yadukuni no niwa’, referring to the Yasukuni Shrine dedicated to war dead. That version was apparently composed by Momotani Masayoshi on 20 April 1945 before his death aged 19 in a suicide attack during the Okinawa campaign. No idea which is the original version.”