kimi ga tame hana to chirinishi masurao ni misebaya to omou miyo no haru kana
in this spring of your reign I think I see in the cherry blossoms that fall so swiftly the stalwart warriors eager to give their lives for you
Poem by Kanō Morohira (1806-1857), an Edo period nationalist scholar born in Tōtōmi Province (now Shizuoka Prefecture). Before inclusion in the 1943 Aikoku Hyakunin Isshu, this poem was part of Kanō’s 1854 anthology Songs from the Persimmon Garden (柿園詠草, Kakizono Eisō). Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney discusses the identification of falling cherry blossoms with the sacrifices of Japanese soldiers at length in her Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), but especially at pp. 74-75.
The postcard’s subject is standing in front of a shrine that resembles the Imperial Shrine of Yasukuni, established in 1869 to honor the spirits of persons who died in the service of the Empire of Japan.
Postcard, illustrated by Matsumoto Morimasa