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Report on the 23rd International Congress of Vexillology

Last modified: 2011-03-25 by rob raeside
Keywords: international congress of vexillology | yokohama |
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Daily Reports on the ICV

Before the conference

For those coming to ICV 23, getting to Yokohama will be quite interesting and will require a lot of changes of trains, For those coming from Narita, you need to take a train called the Narita Express (NEX). You just sit there on the NEX, have some snacks or drinks on the train, then get off at Tokyo Station. The next thing you will need to do is you need to buy a ticket for the Yamamote Line (light green color run by Japan Rail). You need to get to the station called Tabata, then switch to a light blue color line that will get you to Yokohama. You will most likely have to make a stop at a place called Higashi-Kanagawa (East Kanagawa), but mostly to swap trains. You could also stop at Tokyo and take the Keihin-Tohoku line all the way to Yokohama. Either way, there is more than one way to get yourself to Yokohama, Once you have arrived at Yokohama Station, I suggest taking a taxi to the hotel of your choice, since there aren't many lines that will take you close to the hotel. Plus, from personal experience, dragging a big bag in Yokohama isn't fun; too many bloody stairs. The good thing is that the main site for ceremonies, Navios Yokohama, is pretty much easy to spot. Look for the World Porters and Cosmoworld theme park and it is right there. The Jack's Hall will have signs pointing to it (colored white with blue text, will be in both English and Japanese). The hard part will be the Yokohama WPIA for the closing dinner; but if you just shoot towards the Kanagawa Prefecture Dance/Performance Hall, it is right across the street from it. Everywhere else, it will be by bus and we will have guides.
Zachary Harden, 2 July 2009

I have two pieces of good news and one major bad news. Today, I went to a place I went to last year to relax and do some scouting around to see if it is Anglo-friendly. The first good news is that the flag selection of this location has increased since last year. The double good news is that this place is on our list of places to see during ICV 23. The drawback; it's Yasukuni Shrine. For those attending ICV 22 in Berlin, I was told of your woes of having a little selection of flags possible to buy or had little time to actually buy flags. If you are willing to take your flag shopping with a bit of nationalism and historical revisionism on the side, then Yasukuni is what you have asked for.

The shrine has a shop inside the museum we will be seeing (btw, I need to stress now that while there are flag topics and exhibits, no photographs of any kind are allowed by the staff at the Yasukan). The main three flags you can buy at this place are the National Flag (Hinomaru), the Naval Ensign (Rising Sun Flag) and the Z Flag (as in the Naval code, famous due to the use by the Mikasa as a signal to attack the Russians and later, the Americans). There are table flags (10x15 cm), bigger table flags (about 18x24, but need to double check to be sure) and large flag sets for the home. There aren't any flags that are so large that you can buy alone and the prices are a bit odd. The national and naval flags are 840 yen for the desk sizes, but the Z flag is about 1300 to 1600 yen. You can buy a set of three for under 3000 yen and includes all bases and information sheets. If you see a flag item for 1000 yen by Yasukuni, it is a flag case for poles and other flags. You can also buy a national flag kit for about 1300-1500 yen that comes with a pole, flag, top and bracket.

If you like to buy flags, but not support the mission of Yasukuni, there will be a few other options for you. Fuji Flag Co. in Akihabara, Tokyo, will sell you just the Hinomaru, but they have English speaking staff. For those staying at the Comfort Inn Yokohama, there is a flag shop within a stone throw away from you. It is called Asahiya (side note: ya, in Japanese, means shop, like honya is a place you can buy books); just like Fuji Flag, they will only sell you the Hinomaru. However, the staff there doesn't know enough English to venture out on your own. A few persons connected with this congress are also flag makers by trade, so they should have some flags available to purchase at the bazaar during the various breaks at ICV 23. However, if you really want to go cheap on flags, go to a 100 Yen shop (hyauku en shoppu, such as Daiso). They have cheap flags to sell, but the catch is that they are made in China.

For us, the kind of flag books we need or want are pretty much those written by Nozomi Kariyasu, the President of JAVA and the main person organizing this congress. The rest that I found, are geared towards children or located on maps. Yasukuni might have the books, but from my quick scan, the only books that were available were of family seals (kamon) and other general heraldry books.
Zachary Harden, 3 July 2009

July 12 - Day 0

While the attendees of ICV 23 were asked to gather at the Navios Yokohama shortly before the 5 p.m. registration began; I and the other members of JAVA gathered at a small diner inside the hotel and began to prepare. It was about 4ish when we got tossed out by the staff, who wanted to clean the place up before the dinner rush comes in. Running to get boxes of name cards, sorting said name cards and figuring out if we have enough change for the folks that still need to pay for this event. We also had to deal with last minute cancellations and it felt almost like a 2 minute drill in American Football. At 5, the folks were ready but we needed a few minutes to put final touches. We ran out of some paperwork, especially dealing with Yasukuni Shrine that we will see on Wednesday. After a few minutes, we decided to just save the packages with the Yasukuni stuff for the “gaijin” and the JAVA members (myself included) won't get the full welcome packages. But, we got the main things, such as the patches, lapel pins and also special Japanese souvenirs.

5:25-5:30 rolls around, we sent JAVA member Tetsuo Kato down to ask folks to start coming for registration and I and the rest of the JAVA members just waited for the rush. It was a bit confusing first; I had little sleep the night before and just did the whole Yokohama – Narita -Yokohama – trip and I just felt drained. It felt like a few minutes before I was able to get into motion, while the Japanese beside me worked as hard as they could with the limited English that they know. I also had to handle the money, so I had to hassle people I don't even know asking for some amount. By the time 5:45-5:50 rolled around, it was all over for the registration table. Everyone but three folks picked up their badges and everyone pretty much came on time. The drinks ranged from the tame (water and orange juice, which I sought after; had some beers while watching a baseball ceremony at Yokohama Stadium) to the hard stuff with little room in between. It felt like a reunion for everyone except for myself, since most of the people I am seeing in this reception room I am just meeting in the flesh for the first time. We had drinks, laughs, chats and introductions. To me, it felt like the Aussies and the Nordic folks has the biggest delegations (behind the Japanese). We knew when the Aussies showed up, because every single one of them had this giant stick flag (I got one, thanks Ralph K.!). The Nordic folks had on lapel pins, so we know where they were from. The most interesting thing I saw is an Aussie guy and one of the Japanese trade suit ties; not sure what lead up to the trade, but it was quite fun watching it happen. Around 7 PM, JAVA President Nozomi Kariyasu grabbed the microphone and told everyone that the reception was over. But, as always, we take the slow exit, yet the staff at Navios Yokohama didn't mind it too much. Everyone else went their own ways except for myself, all of JAVA and a few attendees stayed in the lobby either to do business, trade or just chat. From just the few minutes I spent with Peter O., I managed to leave with several flag pins that I will put on my jacket (if the weather cooperates).

After all of the non-JAVA left, we had a general business meeting for JAVA to go over the events of the day and also plan for the opening ceremony at the Navios Yokohama. Going to have to be at that hotel by 8 AM along with the JAVA members, but folks don't have to start showing up until later. It wasn't until around 9 p.m. that Nozomi called it a night, so I left for a konbini (24-7 convenience store) then back to my Internet-less youth hostel. Considering this is my first ICV, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer friendships that I was able to solidify in the flesh, but also seeing how far back many of the people go. No one gave a care about the language barrier; I was personally flipping from Japanese to English and vice versa; Peter O. and Victor L. were trading words in Russian and I am also hearing a lot of German, Dutch and Nordic languages. I had a lot running in my head, so I wasn't able to just sit there and relax until Zeljko H. asked me to sit down and just chat about Japanese and Croatian matters. The longest chats I had at the meeting was with Ralph K. from Australia; we talked about just normal stuff and also discussed about what the Aussies did to help make this ICV better. They discussed about the technology we used and also gave comments about information about this ICV and just Yokohama in general that I passed around. I also received good feedback about the website that I helped set up with the Japanese. (It was also at this reception that I was asked to report everything that happened during this meeting, which I agreed to without even skipping a beat.) I am honestly glad that I am here and able to meet a lot of people that I have emailed over the years. I cannot wait for the opening ceremony tomorrow, since I not only will have a short speaking part but I am also being used in a tribute to our dear colleague Harry Oswald. The phone is telling me it is almost 10:30 p.m., I am going to sleep early.
Zachary Harden, 12 July 2009

July 13 - Day 1

FOTWers at rest image provided by Zeljko Heimer, 8 August 2009

1 Akira Kumagai, Japan
2 Jan Oskar Engene, Norway
3 Andreas Herzfeld, Germany
4 Zach Harden, USA
5 Željko Heimer, Croatia
6 Viktor Lomantsov, Russia
7 Juan Ormeño, Chile
8 Jonathan Dixon, Australia
9 Colin Randall, Australia
10 Ralph Kelly, Australia
11 Jan Mertens, Belgium
12 Haruki Murata, Japan
13 Shinya Tanaka, Japan
14 Wataru Ohtawa, Japan
15 Takeshi Kasuga, Japan
16 Hidenori Sekiguchi, Japan
17 Yasuatsu Shimizu, Japan
18 Dirk Schönberger, Germany
19 Chris Maddish, USA
20 Sanjeeva Rao, India
21 Theodor Lorentzen, Norway
22 Marcel van Westerhoven, Netherlands
23 Alain Raullet, France
24 Peter Orenski, USA
25 Jyukno Kang, Korea
26 Hiroyuki Innami, Japan
27 Miru Takano, Japan
28 Ron Strachan, Australia
29 Kevin Harrington, Canada
30 Emil Dreyer, Switzerland
31 Gerd Vehres, Germany
32 Jan Henrik Munksgaard, Norway
33 Aslaug Riisnes, Norway
34 Joost Schokkenbroek, Netherlands
35 Ralph Bartlett, Australia
36 Yoshinori Koshikawa, Japan
37 Tetsuo Kato, Japan
38 Masayuki Yoshimura, Japan
39 Sonia Flores, Chile
40 Liliana Ormeño, Chile
41 Irina Herzfeld, Germany
42 Elizabeth Dangaard,
43 Debbie Kaye, USA
44 Ted Kaye, USA
45 Michel Lupant, Belgium
46 Nozomi Kariyasu, Japan
47 Charles Kin Spain, USA
48 Graham Bartram, UK
49 Joan Merrington, Canada/South Africa
50 Kirsten Frayne, Canada
51 Tony Burton, Australia
52 Gus Tracchia, USA

I was at the Navios Yokohama around 8 a.m. to help with the opening ceremony. It was mostly putting flag poles together, getting the final steps right and making sure everything is in place. When the folks started to gather, I dealt with collecting money from a few persons and taking last minute requests from JAVA. Around the time when the ceremony started and the band played, I stayed with JAVA to help carry a flag during the ceremony. When the Yokohama City Anthem was played (instead of Kimi ga Yo due to its' political connections), the Japanese, Yokohama, JAVA and Harry Oswald memorial flag in. The Harry flag, which I carried, had a photo of Harry Oswald in the middle and surrounded by various other flags from Japan and related to FIAV (the maker, Peter Orenski, also added a US and Texas flags). It was very windy, so carrying the flag was not a hard task; but keeping the flags inside their bases provided a challenge all by itself. Several flags fell over during the ceremony and we either had to fetch the flags or had to hold the bases down. I knew a few in the crowd were filming us and taking photos of us, but I resisted every thought in my head that even came close to Iwo Jima. After a very long speech by M. Lupant, the FIAV President, and by Nozomi Kariyasu (and in two languages), the FIAV and ICV 23 flags were marched in with the strains of the “FIAV March” in the background. The music was provided by the Yokohama City Fire Department Band.

After the ceremony was over, I did a bit of cleanup and focused on what JAVA needed. Once that was done, myself and some FOTW members decided to head to kaiten sushi (sushi on a conveyor belt) and a few drinks. After some shopping and Starbucks, I headed back to the Port Memorial Hall with Jan Martens. After a few minutes of looking and chatting, I found a seat close to the back. I'm sorry folks, but I need an outlet for my netbook; this puppy cannot last even three hours running on a battery. The desks themselves were small, but everything fit just fine. To my right, a few of the association flags were placed inside the hall. From the farthest to closest; Croatia, RCVH, FOTW, Breton and the French. On the left, in the same order, Swiss, SAVA, Belgium, Aussies, Germans, NAVA, two Dutch organizations and the Flag Institute. The Nordic Society was here in force, but their flag has gone AWOL. Near the lectern was, from left to right, Yokohama City, JAVA, FIAV and ICV 23. The Hinomaru was in the back, not sure if they ran out of bases but it looks pretty darn lonely among the boxes and empty bags.

At 2 p.m., the lectures started at the Port Memorial Hall (Jack's Hall) with Tetsuo Kato explaining the rules of the lecture and the side events, such the bazaar. The first presenter was Nozomi Kariyasu, with his presentation about the Flags of Former Colonies and Overseas Territories of Colonial Powers, such as the British and the Americans. The segue to the main presentation was about the flags used at the 1964 Olympic Games held in Tokyo. He mentioned that many of Japanese never seen the flags of dependent territories, yet because of the Olympic Games, it will be hoisted at the opening ceremony. The first country that he focused on was the British, where the dependent flags were pretty much in the same pattern; a blue or red background, a Union Flag in the fly and the colony's badge in the fly. He mentioned a few flags that did not fit the British model, such as Egypt, Qatar and Tonga. Using both Japanese and English, he also explained the French and Japanese colonial flags. The French pretty much followed the British model for flags, but the Japanese focused on ensigns charged with artistic renderings of kanji (Chinese characters).

The next presenter was a very young boy by the name of Hibiki Kondo, the future of Japanese vexillology; he made a short presentation about his favorite flag, Paraguay. He liked it because it has the different reverse/obverse on it and also because it is the only one of its' kind existing. He look very nervous, but he did a very good job for a seven year old. I gave him a small 1824 Alamo flag and told him in Japanese “ganbatte ne” or “Keep on going.”

The next presenter was Ralph B. from Australia; he did a a presentation about the flags that employ the use of a sun (including Japan). He showed why some areas use the sun and even other symbols that use the sun, such as the coat of arms of the Soviet Republics. He also showcased where the sun was located on flags, such as Rwanda at the fly, Niger in the dead center and Malawi at the top stripe in the middle. Ralph also spent some time about the national flag of Japan, in honor of the host of the ICV. He also mentioned about his native Australia, showing various coat of arms that use the sun (but very little flags, except for a few proposals for the national flag in the late 1890s and the early 1900s). Most of the time the sun was used in Australian symbols, it was used in coat of arms, company logos and military badges to show the unity of all of the states into a brand new Commonwealth of Australia. The sun symbol fell out of use until the 1970s when it found it was used to make the Aboriginal Flag. It also found its way onto various military flags, including a centennial flag used by the Australian army. Because of the various contests to change the national flag, the sun was included in various designs with hope that the Anglo and Aboriginal populations can be forever united.

I missed the presentation by Andreas H. because I was helping JAVA with the coffee room, but I was greeted at my seat with three Dutch flags and hearing the question and answer period. Interesting, there was an exchange between Andreas and the delegates about a pink symbol by the German military.

However, I did manage to see the presentation by Hiroyuki Innami and his outline of Japanese vexillology. He talked about the samurai banners and other Japanese elements of vexillology.

To my surprise, we ended a lot earlier than expected. While we started at two and took a longer coffee break than what we were scheduled for, my watch said 4:08 p.m. and we were on our last presentation for the day. The presentation ranged from samurai period to the various military conflicts of the Meiji and Showa periods and the long banner flags used during various festivals and restaurants. At 4:25 p.m., the presentations were done and we had a question/answer period for about 10 minutes. The questions directed at Innami ranged from the city/prefecture flags, flags found at construction sites (safety awareness and corporate) and what foreign influences found its way into Japanese vexillology.

I liked the bazaar. There was a room for JAVA to sell books, flags and showcase other good reading. The Dutch also decided to have their own room, which I helped them assemble table flags either to sell or to give away. They also have a few flag books to sell written in Dutch; they had it for 6 Euro, 700 yen and I don't even want to know how much would this set me back in US dollars. The Dutch also had a presentation of the 2013 Bid for ICV 25, showing what kind of support and things we can find if we choose Rotterdam as the site. I also managed to get the only copy of Zeljko Heimer's book that he brought to Japan; while I know it is 60 Euros, we will work something out. I was also given a book by a JAVA member that has a lot of information about samurai banners and other historical information. The middle room has coffee, tea and iced coffee; it also serves as a room to us to look at old photos of Harry Oswald and to see his memorial flag on display. I didn't see many flags for sale there, but since today is just set up, I imagine more will show up soon. Most of the members were book hunting, so they were pretty happy at the selection that was present even at the very first day.

Later on, Jonathan Dixon and I decided on a dinner with mostly FOTW, but we also decided to let other folks come in on the fun. We had Japanese shabu-shabu, where we grabbed what we want and cooked it in front of us. About 15 of us showed up for the dinner and it was a real nice treat for everyone involved. Now, having to carry all of these flags and books back to the hotel, and eventually back to the United States, is going to be a major pain in the backside.
Zachary Harden, 13 July 2009

I can say that Zach's choice of dinner venue was quite popular. It was successful enough that any thoughts of a "meeting", however informal, were subsumed by the eating and general conversation, flag-related and otherwise, although we did get a photo.

Only a couple of FotW-related issues were raised during the meal. Zeljko expressed his ongoing desire to find a mirror operator willing to trial his script allowing readers to submit minor corrections to the editor as a suggestion in fully edited form, saving much time on correcting typos and so on. We also talked about the notion raised by James Dignan, of categorising the status of images. Points made included:

  • The exact categories proposed were not the point. A first step to a more complete proposal would be to take a representative sample of our images and try to arrange them into sensible categories.
  • This information should always already be in the text. The question is whether it could be put in a position where it is less likely to be ignored.
  • "Based only on a written description" already has a FIAV symbol.
  • Whether it is most effective and efficient to do this by means of detailed captions and/or categorisation with symbols/letters.
  • Would putting our time and effort into such a project at this point have a negative impact on more pressing work?
As it happened, three of us at the Comfort Hotel continued talking for quite a while after this about issues in the practice of vexillology, old times on the list, and how it was a shame that we couldn't meet in person with any more of you this time. We were then joined by more conference delegates and talked about just about every topic of the (now long set) sun. Better get some sleep before it comes up again!
Jonathan Dixon, 13 July 2009

July 14 - Day 2

I arrived at the Memorial Hall around 7:45 a.m. to wait for the rest of the JAVA members....but no one else showed up until around 8:30. It opened up about 30 minutes later, but as soon as I sat down, Emil from Switzerland had some flag books for sale. Once he put a book down to 1000 yen, I bought it; it concerned military regulations about the Swiss flag and also about the cantons. By the time Tetsuo Kato started his presentation, I went to 7-11 to pick up ice for the coffee room. I sat down at the back of the hall again, after giving the ice back, and I heard Kato's presentation about the Samurai lord flags. He was discussing the kamon of the various lords, then talked about the flags during the Kamakura and Sengoku periods. He also explained some military history, such as who invaded Japan and when combat changed from a single group to more of a combined force. To me, it felt a little bit long, but mostly because Kato tried to speak in English and there was many pauses. There was a question and answer period, which involved questions on why the lack of green flags used in Japanese samurai banners and the family crests are still used on flag like objects.

After dealing with the ice again, I sat down and watched the presentation about the Norwegian ensigns by Jan Oskar Engene. He started with the historic flags when Norway and Sweden was still in a royal union. He did mention about the current Norwegian ensigns, but his main focus was the harbor service and the lighthouse service. He used a lot of sources and also books, but it was still confusing him that despite all of the writing about the flag, nothing in legal code has been found yet. I do like the photographs he showed from the period and also the reconstructions that he did. I personally find this presentation to be the best so far, at least in my opinion. He was very concise, clear and wrote the paper in a way that I would write for Wikipedia and also for a school paper; citations for every important detail and for images used. After playing around with the coffee machine with a Japanese lady, I came back to Engene's presentation and it had thee Swedish ensigns with the Union Mark. The presentation also mentioned the only time that the Norwegian parliament passed a law without the monarch's assent and it was the 1898 Flag Act, which demanded the removal of the Union Mark. I asked him about the Union Mark and wanted to know when was the first calls to remove said mark and for the Swedish reaction about this mark. It felt like Jan got most of the questions, but he was able to answer them all and thought it was very well done over all.

The presentations started again after a short break and some shopping of some books, Graham mentioned a few requests for the presentation of papers, Kin Spain asked for credentials for the general assembly and a banner was presented by Sanjeeva Rao of India to the congress and it is being displayed behind the lectern. The next presentation was by Joost S. of the Netherlands, who made a small pitch about ICV 25 and talked about hand painted Dutch ship flags. Most of the flags shown in the presentation was from a few firms of the 18th and 19th century and had a mixture of civic, shipping or governmental flags. Some of these flags were more like banners who had the hoists at the top and hang down vertically. However, no matter what the flags were used for, the name of the artist and/or the firm was painted somewhere on the flag in a way that did not make it distracting. For example, one company painted their initials on a small grave stone near a dancing man. The main firm that he spoke about was Elbers, a small family business in a small shipping town. He also made little side chat about roosters in the flag, evoking the poster Rao gave ICV 23 that has a rooster holding an Indian national flag. Just like with Jan Oskar's presentation, Joost had a lot of questions he needed to field, but also was given a lot of hints about more hand painted flags and the different marks used by artists in other countries, such as an Australian artist using a mouse and national flag.

Graham was up next, talking about the recent changes of county flags and British vexillology. The main focus of what he tried to say is these county flags, no matter if it is used by just the county council or by her citizens, these flags serves as an identity for the counties. The county flags were based on the historical counties and not the current system set up by the British government. He also mentioned the registry system of county flags the Flag Institute set up. The first flags were the historical ones, such as Essex and Kent. Most of the new county flags were appearing since the 1960's, but with the case of Yorkshire, it just got registered and presented formally in 2008, yet it has one of the oldest designs from the 1960s. Many of the new flags were designed either by private citizens or were crated by special contests. Even more so, towns and villages in the United Kingdom are taking the lead of the counties and are also adopting flags via resolutions and contests. Graham also showed us the new ensign used by the Customs Service of the UK, which is a blue ensign charged with the new organizations badge. However, he suggested a quarter ensign (ľ sky blue, Ľ navy blue) with the badge and Union Flag. He commented that there are too many bloody blue ensigns to keep track of them all. I took pictures of these drawings, but I do hope the changes do happen.

I went to lunch with a few JAVA members, had some curry with a salad and miso soup. Went back to the Memorial Hall, where Nozomi and the JAVA members wanted to look at a few stamp sets they want to auction off during the ICV. Nozomi also finalized the delegate letter for JAVA, going to hand it to Kin Spain later on this evening. Other than a young looking girl at the next hall, I am the only non- Japanese here at the hall at 1:35 PM. And just as I finished saying that, some of the delegates just showed up for the next set of presentation and coffee breaks.

Peter Orenski started an auction of UN stamps to raise funds for JAVA. This was started before the presentation by Akira Kumagai about high school flags in Japan. The stamps were sold for 25,000 Yen to Colin from Australia. For the presentation by Kumagai, we had a giant handout with drawings, but also some technical problems with the lights and microphone. We got the see the symbols of various high schools that existed before the fall of the Empire of Japan. Many of the earlier established schools focused on the number of establishment, so First School, Second School, etc. The symbols they used also had either the kanji character (Third, Firth) or some design that showcases a number (Fourth, Sixth). All of the symbols were monochrome, just like the family kamon that we see on kimonos and tombstones. He also discussed about the types of decoration used on the flags, then showcased several flags that were a mix of original copies and modern reproductions. He also showed a hat from one of the schools.

Next up, Peter Orenski and his paper about the use of Native American symbols on US State flags. While the historical flags had many Indian symbols, he focused on the flags of six states. Not all of the symbols are considered controversial, the Oklahoma state flag, the Florida state flag and the Kansas state flag have symbols that have nothing controversial about it and show Indians either in a neutral and/or respectful way. The main flags he wanted to focus on was Minnesota, which has the seal that has the white settler farming while a scared looking Indian on horseback walks; New Mexico with the Zia Pueblo sun symbol that isn't supposed to leave the reservation (and used on many other objects) and Massachusetts with the coat of arms (which is on the flag) that has a raised arm with a sword above an Indian. He presented the results of his survey about the Mass. Flag, everyone else but the majority else of residents in the state thought the symbolism was not comfortable or not suitable for use on a state flag (let alone a coat of arms). He also showed a drawing of a Indian-friendly Massachusetts coat of arms, which I don't think Whitney will like very much.

After another short break, Ralph Kelly was next up to the lectern to talk about Dragons, Traditions, Emperors and Revolutions. Before then, I spoke with a staff member of Jack's Hall and explained to her what FIAV was, what we do and what kind of folks show up. She thought it was interesting about what we do and she explained to us about the problems with the Hinomaru and the use (in her terms, the major pushing) of that flag and the anthem "Kimi ga Yo" by those who are politically on the very right. She also talked about the Heisei 11 (1999) law that established both symbols officially saying it caused major problems for Japan. Now, back to Ralph's lecture, he spoke first about the dragon flags of Imperial China, the flags/banners used by the bakafu governments of Japan and the early legal adoption of the Hinomaru and the Siam elephant flag. For the areas that were captured by either European or other Asian powers, the Korea Taeguk flags, the Cambodia flag with a temple on a red field (and blue border on the edges, like Montenegro), Vietnamese flags and some Filipino flags (Sulu was pointed as an example). Despite the various colonization the European powers did, many states still existed and continued to use their own symbols beside those of the new colonial leadership. The French made a lot of flags that included the tricolor of France and the British focused on making badges for their controlled areas. The British also demanded these badges were used on ensigns, even if they could not be seen from a distance. However, the British allowed some areas, such as Malay, to make their own flags without using the British blue ensign. In Siberia, with the fall of the Imperial leadership, many flags were made to either break away from old Imperial flags and focus more on either local symbolism or to add the symbols of the brand new Soviet Union. The flags of Tibet and Nepal were mentioned, along with the flags of areas that Japan invaded, such as Taiwan and Manchuria. The Japanese military presence also caused nationalism to be installed into the people of occupied areas, such as Vietnam and Cambodia, Laos, Malay, Indonesia, the Philippines, Burma and the Koreas. After the Japanese lost the war, several flags were forced to be used by the Japanese and the Hinomaru was set away for a few years. The flags of India, Pakistan, some of the princely states (such as Sikkim), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Malaysia, Singapore, Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, East Timor and Brunei were mentioned. He also explained about the Chinese flags, mostly related the Republic of China and the new Hong Kong and Macao flags showing how similar those flags are to the current PRC flag. The troubled history of the Cambodia flag was mentioned and showing how a new (or change) to the constitution will also alter the flags. Minor flag changes, such as that to S. Korea and Bangladesh to simplify the design or to add more symbolism, was done either shortly or years after independence. At the end of the presentation, there was trading of questions and answers about Siberia and the Tokugawa flags.

Next up, Gus T. from Argentina. He started a bit late because Ralph took a long time with his presentation and his Q and A session. Gus started to talk about the difference between the Inca and the groups inside the area where the Inca empire stood. His main focus was going to be the Incan symbols, mostly the rainbow flag. Gus went on to say that many of us vexillologists want to attach some kind of symbol to a group of people, borrowing a few words from Peter's presentation about the Native American symbols in US state flags. Unlike some of the native empires, the Inca did not have a flag that was documented by any source and no recorded evidence of the rainbow flag by any group inside this empire. The first even such flag of the Inca that was documented was some kind of arch with animals and a personal emblem on a banner. The documents mentioned a celestial arch, and due to some interpretations, call it a rainbow banner. In drawings done by a Spanish explorer, there was banners shown, but they were colored all black in the drawings and does not mention any sort of rainbow flags. In more reports by the locals in present-day Bolivia, there was mentions of a royal banner being used, but it was not drawn or described in any way, shape or form. Gus also talked about the Wiphala flag that is famous in Bolivia, ever more so since the election of Evo Morales as president of the country. In the elections regarding the new constitution in 2009, this Wiphala flag was elevated to the same status as the Bolivia tricolor, but there was no rules saying what to do with it and President Morales suggested a national flag with the mixture of the Bolivian tricolor and the Wiphala flag. There was a city in Peru that adopted a horizontal rainbow flag, and resisted changes once the Gay and Lesbian movement, along with their similar flag, was becoming well known in the world. The mayor of the city also used the rainbow design as a sash to show the office that he holds (like we see in a lot of Latin and South American nations for their presidents).

After Gus was Jan Henrik Munksgaard of Norway, who talked about the Lion flag of Norway. One thing that I noticed was that this first flag didn't have a blue cross in the middle of the white cross. Jan beat me to the punch by saying is that the Danish was in a union Norway, so they decided to use the Danish flag (which was very popular in Norway) that was charged with the lion at the top-hoist corner. In 1814, the Danish gave Norway to Sweden as part of a treaty. Due to the new government of the Norwegians, they needed a new flag to showcase the new state; yet the traditions of the Danish flag was kept by the Norwegians as a bridge to their history. However, other than just the different styles of the fly and who used what flag, many of the key elements of the Lion flag (such as proportion, color shades) was not clear. The Lion was a symbol of Norway since the 1280's, so this flag allowed the lion to gain more prominence as a symbol of the Norwegian people and state. Several ideas were given to give the lion a bigger presence, such as making the lion bigger and placing it in the middle; however the Norwegian government wanted the lion to still be in the canton and also have the lion facing towards the fly instead of the pole. Despite the government wishes, the idea on what the lion should look like and also where it should face was not decided by a law (but several military groups received flags that had the lion facing away from the pole). It took several years for the common flag to feature the lion facing towards the fly; the oldest surviving flag was from 1821 and it shows the lion facing towards the fly. In the terms of heraldry, the lion was always face towards to the left (dexter), yet on some devices, the lion was facing the other direction (sinister?). Because of some changes to the idea of flag design and the new ethos of "keep it simple," and due to the confusion with the Danish flag, the lion flag didn't last long without it being changed. Due to the defeat to the Swedish, the Norwegians had to use a Swedish flag that was charged with a red/white union mark place at the corner. But, the lion flag was allowed to become the merchant flag for Norwegian ships.

After the General Assembly, which is another paper altogether, me and a bunch of Aussies and a few others went to dinner at a place where we cooked our own food in a Korean style. We talked about the GA, the winners of ICV 25 and ICV 26 and also about my adventures in Japan and finding a Japanese significant other.
Zachary Harden, 14 July 2009

For the General Assembly, we had to switch halls for it. Instead of being in a conference room, we moved to the main hall. It looks like a very nice place; two floors and a lot of silk like curtains lining the place. Kin Spain, Michel Lupant and Graham Bartram took their places at a table and showcased their plastic signs with their specific office's flag. Michel was the only one that had a table flag and he was armed with a gavel, already stamped with a ICV 23 medal from this city. The meeting didn't start until 6:30 pm, so some folks either left for the day or just went to get a bite to eat. I stayed put so I can set this laptop up (with AC power!) and help with some of the set of for this GA. There are about four sections of seat on the ground floor, so I sat towards the right of the hall while most of the others chose the middle. I see some other folks sitting on the far left of the hall, where the other outlet is located at. I just chose this because I wanted to just be able to hear what needs to be said, be able to stand out, and of course charge my laptop.

What I could tell is that before this meeting began, the FIAV officials were just explaining how the proposed constitutional amendments will go, if they are passed during this meeting. The main one of concern was about how members can be removed from the organization due to non-participation. There were other minor amendments proposed by other groups, such as a medal/badge system for FIAV awards. After moving closer to the group, testing the limits of my laptop power cord and the the mikes on stage and checking for all of the delegates (missing a few folks, probably due to dinner), more photo ops and other misc. stuff, Michel officially opened the GA (twice, due to mike issues). The first issue taken care of was the roll call. From what I noticed, a small group of folks managed to get at least 3 or 4 delegate cards. Even the FIAV board members got at least 2 cards each; Kin Spain and Gus T. managed to get the most with about 4 or 5 each. 11 organizations did not send folks here. The CSVA resigned, so the FIAV count was reduced to 51. 43 votes are possible, and I volunteered to count votes when needed. The first motion that was presented was the publishing of the minutes from ICV 22, with one small change (changing 2011 from ICV 23 to ICV 24, just a typo). The vote passed with no objections. Michel was reading the voting rules in many languages, and later gave a speech thanking for all of us for allowing all three of them to serve together on the FIAV board. He later mentioned about his travels to promote vexillology and asked us to promote our study the best that we can, especially to areas that need to develop, such as the Balkans, Asia and Latin America (Colombia was an example mentioned by him). Once again, he spoke again in French, Spanish and German (how many languages does that guy know?!). Kin spoke next, echoing the same sentiments and decided to take a more technical route than Michel, such as mentioning the web presence and also mentioned about the NAVA 42 meeting in Austin, Texas. Graham took the mike next, mostly mentioning about the congress that he helped set up and more about FIAV business than anything else.

The next discussion was the 2013 meeting, three places were suggested by the delegates; Netherlands, S. Africa and Australia. Then, two organizations wanted to become a part of FIAV with only a Stichting Vlaggenmuseum Nederland showing up (NZ Flag Institute Trust did not send a representative, so the vote was canceled for that organization). The Dutch organization needed a 2/3 votes to be accepted; the vote was pushed by the Swiss and passed with no objections. This again pushed the FIAV membership to 52, so the total plus/minus ratio is zero. This also increased the vote count for the various benchmarks. The next vote was for ICV 25 in 2013; pushed forwarded by the Nordics. The Dutch made their presentation for ICV 25 in Rotterdam, which is a joint venture between a few Dutch organizations, a museum and also the city of Rotterdam. The proposed time was in early August. The Dutch won by a super majority, which Graham said it was the best proposal that he has ever seen from anyone. They also decided to vote on the ICV 26 in 2015; there were also three candidates for this meeting. It was Sydney pushed by FSA, and they gave a short presentation about Sydney. They mentioned about a cooperate sponsorship that will give yearly donations if they are chosen tonight. They mentioned many possible venues, including the capital of Australia and also mentioned they will host it later in August or early September. Sydney has a lot of flag history, including the early historical flags and military displays at various museums and memorials. They also looked into setting up visual displays and perhaps some interaction with the flags. In 2015, the 100th anniversary of ANZAC and a possible flag/constitution change was more enticers for wanting to go to Sydney. The next group was SAVA, represented by a South Africa, retired to Canada, wanted to suggest folks to come to Johannesburg for 2015. Like Sydney, Johannesburg will have some support from military officials and will also have important events, such as the 25th anniversary of the RSA and also the 21st anniversary of the current national flag. Also due to the 2010 World Cup, South Africa will have a lot more infrastructure present, such as high speed rail and airports. India also wanted to host the conference, also wanting to hold it in August. I did not hear where the location in India was, but it was close to Gao. So there will be a first vote to weed out the candidates. But there was a major concern about choosing a candidate 6 years in advance, mostly from the Swiss. Kin tried to explain everything that was going on, but there was a lot of confusion about this vote this early. Constitutionally, we weeded down the vote to SAVA and FSA; India only had 3 votes for it. Later, they decided to vote on having Sydney as the preliminary host for 2015. Some debate happened about choosing a place this early; the Swiss and Germans objected, and there was discussion about the wisdom or otherwise of amending the motion to make the choice a provisional decision to be confirmed next time. But Zeljko did mention that we could always choose someone in 2011 if Sydney fails. So the vote happened and we chose Sydney for ICV 26 in 2015 by a super majority.

Next, the amendment discussed was the non-sending of a delegate to three conferences in a row. This, pushed by the Croatians, will allow FIAV to cull absent members starting with ICV 24 in 2011. So this means if the member does not send a delegate to Washington, Rotterdam and Sydney, the member will be removed from FIAV. However, they will be able to reapply at a future meeting. Most of the organizations want this motion to pass because it will make things easier for members and also makes having meetings a lot easier. It passed with a two-thirds majority easily. The next was the proposal by AVS to have a special badge or medal for the FIAV awards. After a few re-votes, we got a vote of 30 yeses. Thirty is the benchmark that is needed for a two-thirds vote, so it passed. Later, a discussion about the past ICV proceedings happened. NAVA said they will producing a report for an old ICV in Ottawa and a few others got published, especially the Congresses between York in 2001 and Berlin in 2007. Nozomi of JAVA was tasked with working on the report on proceedings of this meeting before the Washington in 2011. The next point was about changes to the flag information code, but due to workload of the Yokohama meeting and the passing of one of the main proponents of the changes, but they will be allowed to work on something for Washington in 2011. Next, the election of the FIAV board, so we kept Kin, Michel and Graham at their respective positions with a unanimous vote. The meeting was called to close at 8:15 p.m. and folks just walked on their merry way to dinner, hotel, sleep, or other locations.
Zachary Harden, 14 July 2009

July 15 - Day 3

The main event today was the excursion to Tokyo. Leaving Yokohama about eightish, we managed to get to Tokyo by about 9 a.m. via a bus. The first stop was the Edo Tokyo Museum, we spent about 2 hours there to explore the history of Edo. The 6 story museum was split into two sections; the 6th floor and part of the 5th floor was dedicated to the Edo Period, then the rest was dedicated to Tokyo (from about the Meiji Era to now). Remember how I mentioned the groups were split into three; the Americans, Canadians and Aussies went stuck with Nozomi (sorry Graham and to the other major Anglophones), Germans (again with apologies, this time to Emil from Switzerland who was left out of the German group) and everyone else with another group. Mr. Murata of JAVA was the time keeper, but we did absolutely nothing to that sort. I check the watch here and there, but most of the time was just looking at stuff, taking photos and just shooting the breeze. The major photo op point was at the 5th floor, where there was a banner we could hoist. That puppy weighed 15 kilograms, or in my case, too darn heavy. But unlike a banner I saw in Akita Prefecture earlier in my travels, this had a chain-link pulley system that allowed me and the others to hold it. I gave it a shot, which got some laughs and a bunch of flashing bulbs. After about a minute or so, I put it back down and let one of the Aussies take hold of it. He lifted it so much, it felt like he almost broke something. More photos ensued until we got a hurry up call from Nozomi and a few others. By the time we got the shop, we maybe have five minutes to do stuff. I just decided to relax with JAVA and help Victor L. get some items for his family. Off we went to the Royal Park Hotel in Tokyo for a buffet style lunch.

We had about 50 minutes to eat, so we first focused on what was on the menu, then where to sit down. I sat down with some Kin Spain, Victor, Gus and Zeljko; we talked about food, politics, flags and if we came out of the closet when it comes to “Hi, I am a vexillologist!” I personally had sushi, noodles, bread and some other stuff that I can't really describe because I had no idea what it was or what was in it. After the lunch, we went on the streets of Tokyo  to head to Yasukuni Shrine.

On the way to and from these various places, we had a female tour guide by the name of Yukiko Yamada; she kept on giving a lot of information on what we should know about Japan and asked general questions to us. She asked us what our favorite Japanese food was, asked us how many times we went to Japan (this is trip number two for me) and showed us various landmarks, such as the Tokyo Tower and Mount Fuji. While we were on the way to Yasukuni, she told us how to pray at the shrine and how to cleanse ourselves (physically and mentally) before we enter the shrine. She also mentioned a short history of the shrine and explained that it was more than just the military officials that my country and others sent there after the Tokyo Trials. The bus parked at Yasukuni, we got off the bus and were greeted with a TV camera crew (more on that later) and stalls bustling with business or games. We reached the shrine at the time for Mitama, or the viewing of the deities, so it was all decorated with banners, streamers, lanterns and girls decked out in kimonos, yukatas (the less formal kimono for the summer) and shrine maidens (miko). Instead of going to the hoden,  or main shrine, that we are used to seeing in the photos of Yasukuni, we went inside of a hall to sit down and drink some tea. Nozomi pulled me aside and asked me to sign a book on behalf of the gaijin (foreigners) attending ICV 23. I did, then was later told I will make an offering there with Nozomi and Mr. Murata. The way Nozomi explained it to me was that I was going to do something that many Americans (or perhaps foreigners) will not do and going to perform the same actions as former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. I felt really stunned because I had no idea what I did to deserve this honor, but I decided to not ask questions and help perform the ritual. The ritual had us going to the actual shrine, where the three of us bowed at 90 degrees and pray a few times after placing a branch (with a special paper on it) at the alter. We all drank sake afterwards and received a gift bag full of candy and a uchiwa fan.

Then it was off to the Yasukan, the museum portion of Yasukuni. I am not sure how the groups were split up this time, but I always like to follow Nozomi. We looked at some of the flags that were here and there; the most flags present were of the Hinomaru that was decorated with either a unit name or wishes for a safe return home. The only flag given in specific detail was the flag of Manchukuo, the state the Japanese set up in China in the 1930s. They gave the reason for each pattern and color, but nothing really else. The most impressive flag I saw in the normal collection was a Imperial military rank flag; it had a ratio of 3:2 (more like a banner than a flag), the Imperial emblem in white with an red outline, red background and three diagonal bars on the bottom (so white, red, white, red, white, rest of the flag is red). Other members found other parts of the museum interesting; Gus was pointing out all of the medals and orders that he saw and I believe it was Joan that said the uniforms were interesting. The only point of confusion I had in this first part (and, for the record, I have been to the shrine 5 times and the museum 3 times as of today) was the use of the modern national flags. For example, when I saw the section about the expansion of the colonial powers in Asia, the modern flags were used (so 50 stars for the USA, current arms for Spain and the Russian tricolor). I wished they used a bit more historical flags, but not sure if that would have worked out or not. There were two errors we saw in this first part; I pointed out to Nozomi that in the section on the Russo-Japanese war, they show the naval ensign for Japan, yet the naval jack for Russia. Also, since the war was going on during the time of the Czars, I am not sure if these two current flags were in use at the time. The one Nozomi and I know that was wrong was a painting done in 2000 of the Indian National Army (while under Japanese occupation). The painting had the current national flag on it, which we know didn't exist until 1947.

The special exhibit the shrine held for us was mostly about the flags that had well wishes on it from friends, family and loved ones. Except for one flag, Nozomi pointed out to me that while the white section was always written on, the red is never touched. They also had some banners from the wars and belts with one thousand stitches on them to bring good luck and safety to the soldier. It was quite small, maybe just a few minute look, but many of these flags were not showcased to the public until now. Outside of the special exhibit was the main thing everyone was itching for; a place to buy flags! At Yasukuni, as I pointed out earlier, only has the national flag, naval ensign and the Z flag for sale at expensive prices. But I did managed to cart two books home for a total of 2100 yen and others decided to carry home flag kits at 1500 yen. After leaving the museum, we headed to the buses for a TV interview. Ted was asked in English what he felt about the shrine, I got stuck with Japanese. I just mentioned briefly what I thought about the shrine and my trips to Japan and Yasukuni (I needed two takes because my Japanese and my brain failed me, stupid camera fright...). Before I got on the bus, there was a group of Japanese with flags a Hinomaru fans; I thought about getting a small flag from them before I got on the bus, but I had to board before I made up my mind. However, this whole group gave us cheers of “Bonzai!” and waved the flags and fans. The real treat was to the left, Ms. Yamada told us about three flags to the left of the bus; the three flags were of the areas seeking a total break with China. The only thing we noticed different is South Mongolia had the Mongolian symbol in all white, while in some of the materials we have show it in multi colors (even Nozomi's shirt had the multi colored one). The group followed our bus, waved the flags in a way I could get good photos and just had a blast. Graham was pleased we passed by the British embassy in Tokyo, so he saw his flag twice (both charged with the the wreath and Royal Arms). We also saw the Indian embassy with her flag flying. We went to more places in Tokyo before we headed back to Yokohama; we did see the Tokyo Police flag and a lot buildings using the Hinomaru. Ms. Yamada also talked about the political changes in Japan and the possible leadership changes in August and September and the recent dissolution of the Japanese Diet.

In Yokohama, we were treated to a comedy show of four acts. The first was rakugo, where it was just a person seated on stage and only having three props or less; the mouth, fan and a towel. She did a few jokes, even asking some of us if we wanted to give it a shot. I gave it a shot, so I pretended to eat ebi ten soba (soba noodles with shrimp tempura) and she was impressed on what I did (which, sadly, reflected my real life situation with that dish in California). The next skit dealt with a two person team who dressed like geisha and played a Japanese and Russian guitar. Next, the first gal got on stage again and used ventriloquist on dolls fashioned after a Japanese boy, President Obama and his dog, Bo. The dog could only say one thing, which is woof in Japanese (wan wan); so Obama kept on asking questions that had answers with a variation of wan wan. One of the questions was “Bo, what is the currency of South Korea?” (answer was won, pronounced wan). Lastly, a guy came up and did tricks on stage with objects and puppets on his body. I was tasked with holding rods that had plates on top of them, the others either had to pass said spinning plate around or playing target practice with him. Zeljko has an awesome arm, keeps on tossing rings onto the guys neck perfectly. About two hours passed and the comedy was over; I was very blessed to see this performed and to be a part of the show in several occasions. I personally called it a night around 1:30 a.m., after having drinks with Nozomi and a few JAVA members and the comedians from the evening performance, checked my email at the Navios Yokohama, walked my self back to the hostel, sorted out my room a tad and called Nozomi around midnight-ish after having an “Oh Crap!”moment regarding the FOTW flag (Jonathan Dixon, our listmaster and delegate, had to fly back to AU early, but I am not sure if he took the flag with him or not. If not, how can I get this flag back to you Rob or Jonathan?) Ok, Kimi ga Yo is playing on NHK-E, so I really need to drag myself to sleep.
Zachary Harden, 15 July 2009

July 16 - Day 4

The first presentation of the day was by Nozomi with his topic was the history of the Taeguk (Korean) flag. I was tasked with filming this presentation, so I wasn't at my laptop to sit and take notes. However, main years of focus was from the start of the Korean missions to Japan until the adoption of the national flag of South Korea in the 1950's. At first, the Korean flags were just a plain background with Chinese characters on it, with some fringe at the end. Later on, the Koreans decided to use the Taeguk symbol and the four trigrams. Despite the long use of the flag, it took that same period of time to even sort out what the true design was, but was still a unifying symbol of Korean statehood and nationalism when occupied by Japan. We did see a few flags of Korea under Japanese control, but it was mostly the Hinomaru. The strangest thing I saw was the Korean flag used in the canton of a stripped military flag (but I have seen a modified South Korea flag used in that way for some kind of naval flag currently) and the use of the S. Korean flag on some of the first stamps issued by the newly formed North Korea. I also do recall Nozomi kept on bringing Korean flag books for us to read at the bazaar.

The next presenter was Michel Lupant, who spoke about the flags of Bhutan. His main focus was on the dragons that are used on the Bhutan flag, such as the sizes, position and colors of the flag. This was mostly based on his trip to the country on several occasions. He did not bring any of the flags he purchased, but he noted many of the flags used in Bhutan do have a white dragon, but with too many design variations, color variations and also some incorrect description. We did see a few army and police stations, but each agency decides if they want to use the national flag in the canton in full or just omit the dragon.

During the coffee break, I showed a few of the delegates some of the research I have done at the National Archives in Japan. I first pointed out the actual construction sheet of the naval ensign; the ratio of the flag is the same as the national flag. The red color is in Munsell and it is listed as 5R 4/12. The position of the sun is off center; the way the sheet has it was to picture a triangle at the hoist and one at the fly. The one at the hoist has an angle of 50.625 degrees and the one at the fly has an angle of 61.875 degrees. The center point of the sun is at the meeting of the two triangles. For each sunray, it has an angle of 11.25 starting from the center. On the hoist side, it has 7 sunrays (11.25 x 7 = 78.75 degrees), the fly side has 5 rays (11.25 x 5 = 56.25 degrees). On the top and bottom, they both have 10 rays (11.25 x 10 = 112.5 degrees). So 112.5 + 112.5 + 78.75 + 56.25 = 360 degrees.

The next presenter was Ted Kaye, who presented a paper about the failed attempt of the redesign of the flag of the American state of Oregon. He talked about the process from the start to finish, mostly pushed forward by a state paper and given some assistance by NAVA. The paper wanted a “facelift” for the state flag last year and got at least 2500 designs, but met with the obvious opposition from the citizens of the state and from the state leadership. The process took about half a year, and Ted mentioned all of the steps that needed to happen. There is a 5 step process needed in order to get a flag design changed; public uproar of current design, willingness to change, designs, committee to pick the new design and support from the governmental bodies to effect the change. He talked about other state flags that went through some similar process and discussed some other states that had a similar process, such as Utah. He mentioned that Minnesota will be the most likely flag that will change next. We were able to give a preference to the flags we like the best, but I noticed two of the ten designs looked exactly the same as other flags; one looked like China to some degree and one design was almost exactly like the Malaysian state of Penang.

Next up was Colin and his presentation about flag awareness to the local community. He mentioned about doing small scale exhibits, but because of the hooliganism that is now associated with the national flag, it would been very hard to pull something like that now. He did mention of a hooligan problem back in 2007 where four male teens were stormed into the building and wanted to steal the Australian flags that were inside the hall. Several other Asian flags that were loaned out, such as Taiwan and South Korea, also somehow grew legs. But he tells us about a lot of support he has received from the local community about the different flags that he flies and where they come from.

After the lunch, we had another auction to help raise funds for JAVA. They sold a Yokohama city flag and two Australian books that were signed by the author. It raised just under 30,000 yen for JAVA, so I think JAVA raised about 40,000 yen or 50,000 yen from the auctions. Next for the presentation schedule, we heard from Miru Takano and his talk about the flags of Hokkaido Prefecture. This is the first presentation that was not given in English; Takano gave it in Japanese. The first slide was about the use of the star symbol on the current symbols of Hokkaido Prefecture or companies located in Hokkaido, such as the Sapporo Brewing Company. He also showed a government office called the Akarenga (red brick house) with a red star. Later, Takano started to talk in English about the progress of establishing flags for Japanese prefectures and local cities. He also explained on why some cities have not adopted flags or had flags, either because of refusal to adopt some kind of flag or due to the loss of records from fires or war. He mentioned most of the city flags were created during the Heisei period (1989 until present). The reason why he focused on Hokkaido specifically was because this is his home prefecture. In the early 1930's, about 18 percent of cities inside Hokkaido adopted emblems and flags that had some sort of star on it. Some of the stars are red, white, blue or some other color. He showed the slides twice so he could translate it. The next flag he showed was of Hokushin-ki, an area set up by the Japanese military on Hokkaido. This star is supposed to be the polar star, and with it being centered on a white field, it is showing that the polar star is placed in a good position in the heavens. The next slide had the mons of several families; before the Americans and other foreigners showed up, the sun was used to represent a star. For the Kuyo kamon, you will see 7 small circles with a large circle in the middle. The star wasn't used much by the Japanese until the end of the Edo period. At the same time, the introduction of the 5 point star was done by the Americans and other nations during a colonization period. Most of the early stars were curved and were mostly outlines (like the Star of David is depicted on the Israeli flag). This red star/white field flag only lasted for about 12 years. The same colonization office that used the red star/white flag also adopted an ensign; the red star was kept, but the white field was changed to a navy blue. The star was slightly modified to make it fat, almost like the early Communist Vietnam flags. A proposed ensign still had a blue background, but the star points were changed from 5 to 7 (exact same style as the Commonwealth Star on the Australian flag). More flags were being modeled after the colonization office flag, such as a fat red star on a white field and the words for Sapporo College (Sapporo Daigaku) in kanji at the bottom. Public services, such as fire and safety, plus the military were using flags that had a red star on it somewhere in various sizes and positions. The hospital flag did feature a star on their flag, but it was colored white on a red field (diagonal blue/red, from hoist to fly). Hokkaido University used a symbol that did not include a star, but it mostly had a flower and the university name at the bottom.

Next up, Alian Raullet of Brittany gave a presentation about the “Voice of Vexillology.” He spoke about trying to get a radio spot in 2006 to talk about vexillology. On the radio, they would do a 5 minutes presentation about each flag, the symbolism, selection process and other information that could be found. If there was a presentation that could win for the funniest, this would have been it for using many funny photos and his talk caused people to laugh about every 2-3 minutes. The first season was in 2006-2007 where it had just an introduction to vexillology, Breton flags, city flags and misc. 07-08 season had more information about Breton flags and other flags in the news, ditto for 08- 09. However, but he found it very hard to describe flags on the radio, but gives us another medium to expand our studies and to give people an idea on what we do. He also played one of the first broadcasts for us, but since I barely know French, I barely caught exactly what it said fully. But it sounded like an introduction into vexillology and some of what we do.

After a short coffee break, Kato allowed for Gus T. to be able to answer questions about his presentation from Tuesday (Wednesday was the trip to Yasukuni). The questions and comments ranged from just general usage of the rainbow flags by various communities and organizations to the Waphilia flag used in Bolivia. After a few minutes, Zeljko Heimer was up next to describe the flags of Croatian Armed Forces and of local unit flags of Zagreb. In Croatia, there is a total of approximately 700 units in the entire modern history of the CAF, but the total of flags are not known due to several key factors. Documented flags are over 300 and he guesses about 400-500 unit flags. His main focus was on Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, which has about 147 units in the city. The flags, according to law, can be issued by the Supreme Commander of the CAF, or the President of Croatia. He can adopt the flags once given suggestions by the Minister of Defense. With exception at a parade in Zagreb in 1991, the President of Croatia hasn't granted or participated in granting of flags to individual units. Most of the flags that are shown in parades are reproductions of various war flags, either due to lack of research or trying to protect the real ones from wear and tear. In the documented flags, the ratio of real to reproductions is about one to one. He later broke these flag down to 6 types; three dealt with modifications of the state flag, one had original designs, two are monocolored that had mostly the unit emblem in the middle. He also mentioned that most of the unit flags are in some shade of blue, which is used on the flags of Zagreb, the air force, naval and one of the main colors of Croatia.

The next presenter was Tony Burton, who gave a presentation about the flags of the Palio Di Siena, based in Italy. These are the flag tossers we are familiar with, especially during one of the ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin. The Swiss also perform the flag tossing. The Palio is mostly a horse race, but it lasts for several days. One of the early flag traditions is to place the flags of the horse racers are placed in a church, mostly to bless the banners and to pray for the safety of all of the horses. The main prize of the race is the palio itself, a black and white cloth that is placed on the banner of the victor. The palio is based on a cloth that is award to bishops. The design of the flags itself are based on traditional communities and use colors and symbols that are associated with the major trade of the residents, such as carpenter or butcher. There are 17 main banners of these areas and are displayed mostly during this horse race. In a second part of the presentation, Tony took the design style of these flags and see if it could be applied to flags that are very similar, such as the state flags of Australia. Later on, he showed a design of the Australian flag, using the Palio motif; having a ying yang effect and almost like origami. He also made it into cloth, which invited a lot of cheers and photographs.

Victor Lomantsov was up next, talking about military (land forces and Cossacks) flags from Orenburg, Russia. He spent the first few minutes talking about the organization of the military units and gave us some term definitions, such as the Cossacks. Many of the first military banners of these units had either have crowns, religions icons or the double headed eagle coat of arms. Orenburg received her first banner at 1756, which was presented to the local Cossack unit. On the flags presented later, the symbols of the Czar was placed on the reverse of the flag, mostly to show when the unit was created. On the obverse, you have the Imperial coat of arms. For the local regiments, you will see square banners with the same themes of religious symbols, Imperial coat of arms. For each section of one hundred troops, they had a special banner to indicate the unit. In 1900, you have a new banner that looks very similar to the current Russian military banner. On the front, you have the face of a religious icon; the reverse as the symbol of the Czar. On the sides, you had either a decoration or text. Due to the Russian Revolution and the Civil War, the red banner became popular with the Cossacks and other units in order to show socialism and the end of the Imperial rule in Russia. Other flags were used, but not much evidence was found for them. With the fall of the Soviet Union, more Cossack banners were created; still has the religious icons on the front, but it has the new Russian arms on the back of a St. Andrews flag (white field, light blue cross). He was the last presenter of the day, so Kato gave us the schedule of what we needed to do tomorrow.
Zachary Harden, 16 July 2009

July 17 - Day 5

The last day of presentations began with a small announcement about clean-up of the hall and the giving away of pictures of Harry Oswald. The first presenter is Chris Maddish, who presented about the Symmetry of Flags in Japan. He explained about how some flags are symmetric, or one flag has a twin (like Gunma and Tokyo); the rules are that the flags must be in their own class (Japanese flags must pair with Japanese flags), only has one partner (like yin and yang, men or women) and the two rules can be broken if you can justify the relationship and the balance is present. Later, he showed a collage of photos from Saga and Kyoto prefectures showing a major contrast, but also how they compliment each other. Using Europe and Africa, he explained the location of Japan is an example of geographical harmony (half of Japan is below the 36 degrees and the other half is above 38 degrees, with an overlap in between). He also used cultural and historical ties for various other prefectures. He also had the various naval jacks of Japan and the United States paired up. He showed a video presentation that summarized what he talked about, which I believe he put on his personal myspace a year before this conference.

Emil Dreyer from Switzerland was up next, who gave a presentation about the sun symbols in flags. One of the things I noticed a lot during this conference is the presentations focused on having something about the sun or something to honor the host nation of Japan. Back to this presentation, Emil first mentioned when the sun was first used as just a general symbol, which later went onto early flags for areas or organizations. No matter the location, nor the organization, the sun was a major symbol either on flags, medals or statues. Even parts of the sun was used, either from just a disc on Russian and Spanish military flags or the sunrays itself in Italy and in Switzerland. The sun is seen as an all seeing eye or as a giver of life. Variants of the sun, such as the swastika, the Indian chakkra and the three legs, were also seen a lot on flags in many different areas. Even the three legged symbol of the Island of Man has been seen in other locations and modified to some extent, such as the flag and symbols of the Italian island of Sicily. Despite being bitter enemies, both the monarchs of the British and the French decided to use the sun symbol on their personal standards. Another enemy of the French, the Prussians, also used the sun symbol on the personal standards of their leaders. Later, he started to focus on Swiss flags that have the sun symbol, such as state flags and military flags. In the military banners, the sun is placed near the other modern symbols of liberty, such as the liberty cap and the liberty tree. Hopping over to the United States and Turkey, then police flags, keep on using the sun symbol until this very day. Another area he focused on was South America, where he focused on the sun flags of Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, among others. Later, he talked about the US state flags and flags used by Native American tribes and moved onto the British colonies, Canadian provinces and African flags that emerged from independence movements. He even had a section about Irish, Nordic, Macedonian and Latvian flags. Flags of the communist movements had various sun emblems on flags and coat of arms; the only modern USSR flag that even had a sun was that of the Georgia SSR and the Air Force flag. With the breakup of the USSR, several states such as Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, also the republics inside Russia, adopted various flags that use the sun. Asian flags were talked about, starting from Iran/Persia, Nepal, India and pointing to modern and historical flags of various current or former states. Later, Oceania where the flags of Pacific islands and Australia are mentioned, along with China/Taiwan and other areas. The last area he talked about was Japan and the flags she used in history, then showed a photos of various flags of Switzerland and asked us to come to Switzerland.

During the break, Tanaka Flag Company showed up and sold the Safety flag (white flag with a green cross, or Anzenki in Japanese) and the Hinomaru. In a strange twist, the Hinomaru was 2000 yen and the Anzenki was 810 yen; both were made out of a cotton like cloth, almost like a yukata (summer dress). The next presenter was Marcel van Westerhoven of the Netherlands, who posed the question to us are the local flags of his country declining in local custom. Traditionally, the flags would be going from patterns with the coat of arms and a monocolor background to eventually designs that have many colors and/or placing items closer to the hoist. However, despite these changes, the flags are distinctive in nature and could be seen even in black and white rendering in laws and in books. The shapes stay uniform with the national flag (2x3 ratio) but a few flags are square or triangular in nature. The flag of cities being created in 1989, the flags being adopted by these new cities are choosing logo flags. He showed us examples of these logo flags and they just look very, very bad. Of the cities in the Netherlands that have flags, only 21 cities have these logos on a bed sheet, with most of the logo flags adopted on or after 1999. For some cities, there is an official flag that use a LOB for daily use. He gave a few reasons, mostly that cities act like companies, ignorance of many persons or other factors; but there are some countermeasures presented.

Next was Sanjeeva Rao of India, whose topic was Abomination of Desolation. While this was had some flag pictures on it, this was not about flags at all by the stretch of my imagination. It first had a definition about desolation, then later on, the presentation dissolved into a discussion about religion, mostly about the Jews. I was very confused by it and some of the folks behind me felt the same way. I know at least one person took offense at the presentation and others were not happy with either Sanjeeva for giving it and JAVA for accepting this for presentation at the ICV.

Next was Ted Kaye, who read a paper by Dr. Whitney Smith (he was ill, so he could not travel to Japan). The first part of the paper talked about how the science of vexillology is connected to the study of political science. This paper was up my alley because political science is my major in university (and I have an associates degree in it). Most of my peers in the political science realm do not know much about vexillology and, according to the paper, most vexillologists do not know or pay much attention to the world of politics. Dr. Smith later wrote in his paper 19 theses that vexillologists must use in order to understand flags with a political mind, no matter if it is the art, use or symbolism of the flags. This makes good sense in Japan, where there is still a major debate about the use of the Hinomaru and the national anthem "Kimi ga Yo" by Japan and the constant tug of war over the feelings of these two symbols of Japan. Just yesterday, there was a forum in the hall next to us talking about the abandonment of the two symbols. We kindly just hid our flags, but my backpack kinda gave it away. I also ran into those guys that morning, and I just hope they didn't see my backpack. I personally agreed with a lot of the paper, but I just mentioned about the Hinomaru and "Kimi ga Yo" issue to the entire group. Ted pretty much told me in response that, as vexillologists, we should keep an eye on those issues, but Dr. Smith wrote that vexillologists should only focus on the study of flags and do not get into the realms of flag promotion or design.

Ted was up again, but with his presentation about ICV 24 in Washington D.C. In 2011. The general area will be Alexandria, Virginia around 1-5 August. The meeting is also connected with the local NAVA 45. The main hall will be the George Washington Masonic Memorial and there are plans for the Smithsonian and the US Naval Academy. The weather is about the same as Yokohama, which is very warm. Marcel was up again, this time giving us an invite to Rotterdam in 2013. Inside the city, it has one of the largest ports in the world, so Rotterdam has an international flare (like Yokohama). The congress site will be the Beurs-WTC and approximately be in August 2013. The three main hosts of ICV25 will be the SN, SVR and the NvvV. There will be museums and other locations we could see and special exhibits will be shown, like what we saw this year at Yasukuni Shrine this year and the final dinner will be on the ship "Amsterdam". After Marcel was done, the presentations were done for ICV 23 and just needed the final dinner/closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony was held at the Yokohama Work PIA, about a 15 minute walk from the congress venue. Everyone managed to show up, including a few persons who joined us just for the closing dinner. The first surprise was that one of the Japanese, Mr. Murata, brought his daughter to the dinner. She was wearing a full kimono, which brought a sense of wonder to the ladies and a contest among the men to see who can get the most face time with this lovely maiden. We first started with a glass of either whiskey or ulong tea and tons of chatting. Once we were told to take our seats by Tetsuo Kato, we listened to him saying how the ceremony will go. He handed the mike to Graham, who took command for the rest of the evening. The first order he had was to eat this one bite quiche thingie, so I did it in about 4 bites. After having this and a glass of Asahi beer, the awards were passed out by JAVA, FIAV and NAVA. JAVA gave the best paper to Allan Raullet of Brittany, who gave his presentation about the Voice of Vexillology (his adventures with vexillology on the radio). He was given a Japanese type certificate and other goodies from the JAVA President, Nozomi Kariyasu. This was done in a Japanese style, so it was presented on a lacquer plate and was held by Ms. Murata. The NAVA best paper award went to JAVA member Akira Kumagai, who did his presentation about the flags and symbols of historical high schools in Japan. The next was the Vexllion, it was presented to SAVA in honor of Andries Burgers who published an extensive book about the S. African flag, but passed away shortly thereafter. The next awards were the FIAV Fellowships; it was presented to Nozomi Kariyasu (JAVA), Miru Takano (JAVA), Jan Oskar Engene (NF), the late Harry Oswald (NAVA and the founder of JAVA), the recipient of this years Vexillon, and a few others. No FIAV Laureates were awarded this meeting. After eating a full course meal, we had the second part of the ceremonies. First, Michel Lupant read off a list of vexillologists who have passed away since the last meeting. The reading hit me hard because I worked with one of them, Dev Cannon, for several years. He was one of the first people who got me started on vexillology formally and I will never forget his kindness and his sincerity. The other name that hit me hard was Harry Oswald; I sadly never had a chance to get to know him. However, during this entire meeting, people saw that whatever Harry left behind, he left it for me to carry on towards the future, especially the NAVA/JAVA connection. This humbles me greatly, so this is the reason why I feel honored that if there was an ICV I was proud to call my first, it was this one. We all stood up for a moment of silence, then gave a sake toast to their memories and to our current friendships. Next, Michel called for Nozomi to come up and grab the FIAV flag. The FIAV March played, so we all stood up to see the flag handed over to Ted Kaye of NAVA and to Gus Tracchia, the folks organizing ICV 24 in Washington. Tetsuo Kato took the mike again and said ICV 23 is done and a message of go home safely.

Some of the fun things at the dinner that I personally done; I had a chance to practice my Japanese with Ms. Murata. After taking photos with her, she tried to speak some English. I spoke in Japanese with her and she replied back in Japanese with the usual cutesy/surprised/shocked manner I get with most Japanese girls. I could tell she was shy and embarrassed, but that just made her that much cuter in my point of view. Earlier in the day, Jan Oskar and I received posters from the Democratic Party of Japan with their leader Yukio Hatoyama on it. He gave me the poster at the dinner, so I showed the Japanese the poster. Laughs were heard from across the dinner hall, so people took photos of me with this poster. Mr. Koshikawa of JAVA gave me a document from the Ministry of Defense and it has the color specifications of the Hinomaru, current as of 3-21-2008 (Heisei 20). On page six of this document, titled DSP Z 8701E Flag, National, the color of the national flag is given in Munsell for two different types of fabric. The first fabric given, akuriru (no idea what this is), has the red color as 5.7 R 3.7/15.5 and the white color as N9.4. The second fabric, nylon, has the red at 6.2 R 4/15.2 and the white at N9.2. These colors are mentioned in the document JIS Z 8721 (Japanese Industrial Standard). I wish I had software that can translate Munsell into something useful, but this might get us closer on what the actual color of the Japanese flag is. I showed this document to JAVA and they got excited about it. Once the awards and ceremony was done, it was a giant photo op for everyone around the FIAV flag. I got called for a photo for JAVA, so I stood with all of JAVA and Ms. Murata and have some photos. After I exchanged card with a few folks, and getting fashion tips from Michelle, I said my goodbyes and just waited for JAVA to finish up. I signed a fan using my Japanese name, Zakkari Ha-den, and we presented it to Nozomi for everything that he has done. I also began discussing about the preparations of the proceedings for this ICV, which I hope we could finish them soon. The last things I did was change into some street clothes, give Ms. Murata my email address and gave Victor Lomanstov a giant bear hug. I grabbed my Playstation Portable, found a song by the Japanese idol group "Morning Musume" and just walked my way back to my Internet-less international youth ( which is considered under 90 years old at this place and the occupants are over 90 percent Japanese) hostel to be greeted by an ambulance and cans of Coke.

For my personal plans, I will use the rest of the 17th to do some general clean up, 18th to wash clothes and more cleanup, 19th to Hakone and Tokyo, then fly back to the US on the 20th. I been here since June 2nd, so I feels like Japan has became my second home. I don't want to leave this place, but my visa is going to expire eventually, so I have to.

Now here comes the hard part; my overall reflection about this ICV, my very first ICV 23. Overall, this is my second flag conference that I ever been to in my life (Last year, NAVA 42 in Texas was my first) and I didn't know what to somewhat expect from this one. From the perspective of an attendee, I found it very interesting and almost like I am going to a classroom for the first time. Many people knew me because of either my interactions with them on Facebook, this very mailing list, or just seeing my name pop up on the FOTW website or at other locations (such as my personal blog). There was some I knew from NAVA 42, such as all of the FIAV board, Sanjeeva; there was some I just met for the very first time, such as many of the Dutch and Scandinavians folks. Others, like Victor and Zeljko, I can finally shake their hands and buy them a beer or five and just be able to relax with some of the best people I have gotten to know in my entire life. The amount of material present at this ICV was astounding; I managed to cart home flag books from Japan, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, Croatia and other countless places. While I know my bags and wallet will not like it, but it will give me yet more stuff to put in my personal library when I set up my new place. The amount of freebies was also astounding; I got free books from Russia, Japan, Norway, Croatia and also free CD's from Russia and ICV 20 in Stockholm. I also received free flags from the Aussies, the Japanese (the JAVA flag from the late Harry Oswald), Russians (Orenburg City table flag), Brittany from Alian and the Dutch. Lapel pins were also handed out like candy, so I managed to fit my congress badge with 8 lapel pins I received either from JAVA, the ICV goody bags or from random folks at the conference. To me, the folks who gave out the most stuff seemed to be the Dutch and the Scandinavians. The Dutch handed out free table flags of the three organizations that will be hosting ICV 25 in Rotterdam, including a wooden pole and base. I also got a lot of stickers from the Aussies, so I placed one near the right click on my laptop (the left click area is occupied by the Hinomaru). The coffee break area was alright, but half of the machines didn't work or we ran of out stuff quickly. Most of the time, I opted for the green tea or just ran across the street to grab a 120 yen Coke can or bottle. Just not a big coffee guy, no matter how many times friends or ex-girlfriend keep dragging me to that bloody store. Food wise, the conference was pretty good on it. Most of the time, we got to choose where we want to eat and we stayed mostly close to the conference hall or to Navios Yokohama. The only out of the way place we went to was in Tokyo, but that was connected to our excursion. I mostly had curry, sushi, noodle bowls or some variant of the three. The only strange food I had during the events was with JAVA after the comedy show in Yokohama. The only part that I didn't like was the taking the photos from the dark and in the distance. Most of the other guys have photos of the speeches; I gave up after Victor. From the perspective of the workhorse, I can see it takes a lot of effort to just even to get folks moving in the right direction. From serving coffee to technical issues and everything in between, it is very tiring. Just today, I had to play hide and seek just to find the flag seller, then fielding ideas on what was good for this meeting and not. I also was one of the few folks that was willing to walk around and translate for folks, so this earned me a few things such as badges and free food/drinks. I also got to go places most folks could not go and meet some people that I would never have met in my wildest dreams. I cannot even count how much of the business cards I have received from just this meeting. I also wound up on TV due to this. For the pluses, I would have to say is that we had frequent breaks and also had long periods of time we could be with other attendees without having a rough schedule. Some said the schedule was too long on some days, but was glad we could have a lot of free time on Friday. Another plus for me is to convince JAVA to avoid some of the problems that the Berlin congress had, such as allowing time for flag shopping (but it took Yasukuni and the last day in order to pull it off, which dismayed a few folks and I personally do apologize for that). I do admit that book shopping outside of the congress (Yasukuni included) was a bit hard, despite telling them of  several places I knew of in the area. But, you would not have found much flag materials anyways unless it was a kids book or a map. Trust me on this folks, I checked for weeks. The locations of the hotels was pretty good, but since I am staying at a different place than the others, I cannot really comment on how their stay was. But, if I had a choice, I would have done the Comfort Inn because of the free Internet. However, I am in Chinatown and the walk wasn't too bad at all, or if I don't feel arsed to walk, I pay 130 yen to get to the Kannai station and only walk for about 5 minutes. The venue was pretty good, but we were limited on how much time we could spend inside the hall due to things beyond our control. We also had to dismantle/set up the giant flags several times; so these telescopic poles we got was quite good, but frustrating to use. And, if you have a heavy flag like FIAV, it will always likely to tip over. We also ran out of bases at the very end, so we had to place flags against the wall or took some down early, like the Yokohama City flag that was sold at an auction. I think my only wish is we could have had a lot of the ceremonies close together in location, which I know NAVA will try and do for ICV 24 in 2011. With a few exceptions, I really liked the presentations given and was able to expand my flag knowledge by taking a lot of notes and sometimes photographs. I would personally need to dig through my files and see what I have about the Korean flags and see if I could pass it to Nozomi and perhaps compile everything I have about the Hinomaru and put it somewhere useful. The outside congress stuff was almost make it up on your own; I went to a baseball opening ceremony right before registration setup began for JAVA. I know the night of the closing ceremony, there was a local baseball game with the Bay Stars of Yokohama were playing against the Dragons of Chukoku; I personally like baseball but if I had a lot more money and time, I would have seen another game (already saw the Tokyo Swallows and the Tohoku Eagles in Tokyo around early June). Movies were out of the question since it was 1800 yen for a ticket for one (yet 2000 yen for a ticket for two, so punished for being single) and where I am staying at, you really do not want to be here after dark (especially if you happen to be a female). There was a theme park near the Navios Yokohama, but it was more of a place for couples or groups and it usually shuts down after 9ish or so at night. The overall shopping was OK, I managed to get Hello Kitty gifts for my Japanese professor, small items for friends back in the States (both American and Japanese) and a ton of stuff for myself. Overall, I really do not regret coming to ICV 23 or to Japan period. There would have been some things I would have done different, such as going to Japan closer to the start of ICV, bring less stuff to the country, chose a different hotel, saved up more cash and just spend less on other affairs. As I said before, I really love Japan and I do want to come back here later for another vacation, and this ICV has convinced me that these meetings every two years are special for many reasons that I cannot explain. The friendships I have created, solidified or took to another level was the biggest joy and pleasure I was able to experience during the ICV; not to mention the number of flags and books in my collection has grown higher. I just hope with my presence at this ICV, I was able to help you to not just find a way around Yokohama but just add my little flair to everything at the meeting. For those not with us, I wish you were here and I hope with everything I am typing, I am giving you a sense of what happened to make you feel like you were here.

I will close this with a thank you to everyone that I met during ICV and everyone I worked with from FIAV and JAVA. However, I give special thanks to the major people who made this ICV for me one of the best times of my life:

Victor, finally meeting you in person was one of the major things I was looking forward to at this ICV. Nozomi could tell you that my face lit up with joy once he said you received your visa from the Japanese embassy. No matter it was meeting you at Narita, sitting in the park near Yokohama Stadium, having drinks and sushi, to the final greeting, I enjoy every moment I spent with you. I wish my Russian was decent as my Japanese, but I am glad I was able to show you my Russian music collection

Zeljko, while I have gotten to known you because of Facebook, I found you to be very funny in person. Always asking the important questions of "where is the beer?" or "where is the beef?"ť I think I drank more beer at ICV with thanks to you. It was an honor that I was able to buy the book from you during this ICV and I will take a very good look at it once I get back to the States.

Peter Orenski, you taught me a lot on this trip. From doing good artwork, when you see a good deal when it comes to flags and how to make speeches short and concise, everything you taught me during this ICV will be used to further my studies and any future endeavors that might/might not be related to flags.

Jan Oskar, I am glad I had dinner and drinks with you on the night before registration. The best time I had with you was the last day when we both went to the DPJ building to get the Hatoyama posters. It fits in my luggage just fine.

Last, but not least, Nozomi. Ever since last year that I met you in person for the first time, I feel that we had a working chemistry that was destined to happen. With the assistance of Takano-san, Kato-san, Tanaka-san and Murata-san, it felt like the six of us were ready to tackle the problems of ICV 23 with that great spirit the Japanese are well known for. No matter it was dealing with presentations, figuring out who was going to sit next to who at the closing dinner, or dealing with FIAV to see what flag order is correct or what song to use for the opening ceremony, it was the guidance and knowledge from you that carried me through this entire process. I admit, it was hard; I spent many nights awake in the US and Japan figuring out exactly what to do for this conference. Part of the reason why I came to Japan this early is to do some scouting around for those coming to the ICV, so they don't have to bother you with questions like "I want okonomiyaki, where do I get this?" or "Where can I get some yen using this card?" I just pray I was successful in that department. I have also gone so far for you and JAVA that I went to Texas to act on your behalf to invite the attendees and the world to come to Yokohama this year. While the methods I used might not have been conventional, or we had to do some politicking to get what we needed, but everything fell into place once we began to get close to the conference. Even though I believe that some issues were not resolved until the congress was close to us, but I am very relieved that nothing seriously bad has happened and I feel that JAVA has put on one of the best programs I have read about in years. For this being the first ICV in Asia, we have set a benchmark that other nations can look up to and follow for future congresses. Everything fell into place because of you, Kariyasu-sensei. You were that glue that kept everything together, also acted as my medium if I could not get through to the other JAVA members due to the language barrier. You had a lot on your plate, but you did well Sensei. I was honored that I was able to be a part of the ICV 23 team and it was a great honor for you to allow me to become a JAVA member and keep it until the end of my life. It would be an honor to help you with the final acts of this congress, such as the publication of the proceedings and to lend any advice to NAVA, the Dutch and FSA to host their future congresses. Sensei, arigatou gozaimasu. ICV 23 to Nihon wa tanoshikatta. (Thank you very much Sensei. ICV 23 and Japan was very fun.)
Zachary Harden, 17 July 2009

Some FOTWer photos

FOTWers at rest image by Nozomi Kariyasu, 18 July 2009

Left to right: Zeljko Heimer, Victor Lomantsov, Zach Harden, Peter Orenski

FOTWers at rest image by Nozomi Kariyasu, 18 July 2009

FOTWers with flag, out at night in Yokohama