Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yokohama International Congress of Vexillology

ICV Flag 23 Colours of Japan: Red & White

In 2009 Yokohama, Japan hosted the 23rd International Congress of Vexillology. I was honored to speak and be a delegate at Asia's first international vexillological congress. I spoke about the flags of Japan, specifically the sub-national prefectural flags. You can think of prefectures as being the 'states' of Japan. Japan has 47 prefectures, kind of like the 50 US States. In Canada they call their sub-national districts 'provinces' while in Australia they call em' like they do in the USA: states.

My paper focused on the flag symmetry phenomena of Japan. You can watch a video on my Youtube sight that illustrates this point. It also has videos about Canada, Australia, and the USA:

To the right is a mock cover of the book about the flag symmetry phenomena in Japan. Partially visible as a zoomed close up is the Japanese National Flag. In the foreground are several prefectural flags aligned with their partner.

After living in Japan for five years, I traveled to all 47 prefectures. I was a University Student in Osaka and high school teacher of English in Fukuoka Prefecture at Kurume Chikusui High School on the JET Program. The JET Program is a National Japanese Government sponsored public English Education program.

I became very familiar with Osaka and Fukuoka and coincidentally I have aligned them in my book! Osaka and Fukuoka are at the East and Western ends of the Inland Sea of Japan. Thus both have strong reputations for business like acumen, more so for Osaka.

This 'flag symmetry' phenomena takes place in both Eastern and Western Cultures. It is not an isolated event or some kind of 'fluke.'

The ICV 23 congress was hosted by Japans National Vexillological Association. It was held in the prestigious Yokohama Port Memorial Hall. After WWII it was one of the many US-Allied Command centers. Now it's open to the public as community forum.

I gave my lecture at several other smaller community events. They were all amazed that a foreigner knew so much about their country. Most Japanese are totally unaware that their 'state-prefectures' have flags. Civic duty in Japan is less than enthusiastic and most people rarely dare express personal political opinions.

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