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Houseflags of Japanese shipping companies

Last modified: 2017-10-15 by zachary harden
Keywords: maritime shipping |
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These flags are based upon a booklet called Fune to Hata (Ships and Flags) published by the Nihon Maru Memorial Foundation in 1994 following an exhibit at the Yokahama Maritime Museum by the same name and during the same year. Photocopies of the flags were provided by Nozomi Kariyasu for these images.

The photocopies show actual flags, not artistic images. Several different sizes are shown. The flags, particularly from 1916, are weathered and torn, but allow for some degree in accuracy in representation.
Phil Nelson, 04 February 2002

See also:

Kanazawa Kisen (1916)

[Kanazawa Kisen (1916)]
by Phil Nelson

Kita-Nihon Kisen (1916)

[Kita-Nihon Kisen (1916)]
by Phil Nelson

Kita-Nihon Kisen equates to North Japan Steamship Co. and with "Nippon" and "Nihon" having the same meaning it is shown by World War 2 as Kita Nippon Kisen K.K. After World War 2 it is for starts not mentioned until the late 1950s when Lloyds Shipowners record as Kitanihon Kisen K.K. and then over the next couple of decades entries appear also for Kita Nippon Kisen K.K. and then in the late 1970s a 3rd entry for Kitanihon-Oi Kaiun K.K. appears and subsequently the latter becomes the sole entry and operating until the late 1990s. The indications are that they were all one and the same although different addresses are given. Certain ships provide a link as does the livery but at the end there is still uncertainty in my mind as to whether these suppositions are correct in any or part way. The flag shown is supported by the funnel markings shown by Talbot-Booth in 1942 except that whereas these would normally be an exact replica but in white on a black funnel, he shows the top band continuing right through, but does show the markings as being the same width as are the red bands etc on the flag. These equal bands are changed by the post World War 2 sources of US Navy 1961, recording as Kita Nippon Kisen K.K., and Brown 1995 [lgr95], recording as Kitanihon-Oi Kaiun K.K. Both of these show the 2nd horizontal red band and the two vertical lines as being wider than the white bands whilst the other horizontal red bands are narrower than the white. The vertical lines are also shown further apart being placed at the 1/3 and 2/3 points of the flag length. Whether this indicates that there was a change in the design or whether they are not even connected is as uncertain as the supposed name link.
Neale Rosanoski, 5 March 2003

Kyushu Kisen (1916)

[Kyushu Kisen (1916)]
by Phil Nelson

The flag is white with a red logo in the center. Now, this logo (two horizontal bars crossed in the center by one vertical bar) strikes me as a potential character. (at least its shape is similar to that of the katakana character "kya" キ)

Regarding the company itself, I found very few references. It's obviously based in the island of Kyushu. And apparently, according to World Shipping Directory it's still operational with an address at Kurahashi, Aki-gun, Japan. And according to The Ships List it had at least one ship registered in Osaka, the Toyoura Maru.
Jorge Candeias, 3 July 2006

Kyushu Yusen (1910)

[Kyushu Yusen (1910)]
by Phil Nelson

Kyushu Yusen. There is a Kyushu Yusen K.K. still operating as a ferry company but Lloyds have it being formed in 1920 so this 1910 date may mean no connection or it may be a forerunner.
Neale Rosanoski, 5 March 2003

Nanyo-Yusen (1916)

[Nanyo-Yusen (1916)]
by Phil Nelson

Nanyo Yusen K.K. changed name c.1950 to Tokyo Senpaku K.K.
Neale Rosanoski, 5 March 2003

Nihon Enkai Ferry (1990)

[Nihon Enkai Ferry (1990)]
by Phil Nelson

The company became shown as Nippon Enkai Ferry K.K. before in 1990 becoming K.K. Blue Highway Line, continuing to operate as a subsidiary of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd.
Neale Rosanoski, 3 January 2004

Nissin Kisen (1916)

[Nissin Kisen (1916)]
by Phil Nelson

The photograph shows a crease in the center stripe, but it is unclear whether this would make all stripes of equal width.

Nissin Kisen. Also noted as Nisshin Kisen Kaisha or the Japan-China Steamship Co. formed 1907 by 4 lines including NYK and OSK being merged 1939 into Toa Kaiun K.K. (East Asia Navigation) which was dissolved in 1946 by the Allies. According to a very knowledgeable source the flag was actually of 5 equal bands of 3 red and 2 white yet on the other hand the original funnel had 4 white bands separated by equal widths of funnel possibly representing the 4 original founders and normally the funnel markings of Japanese companies are the same as those of the flag except in early days it was usual to have the flag in red and white changing to black and white on the funnel with often a colour reversal being made and the flag red design being placed on a black funnel as white with the white of the flag design becoming part of the funnel black. In this case, based on the funnel, one would expect the flag to have 4 red bands and 3 white as per the 1916 flag and for the bands to be equal.
Neale Rosanoski, 5 March 2003