A couple months back my sister gave me this 1960s-era peace symbol magnet that she received at an event organized by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. It has an interesting story to go along with it, and with all the heartbreaking conflict going on in the world in recent days (and months, and forever) it seems like as appropriate a time as ever to share it.

peace

The following was printed on a card that came with the magnet.

After being released from an internment camp for Japanese Americans, Chiyoko and Goro Otagiri returned to Japan in 1947 to found the Otagiri Mercantile Co, which later produced these colorful, hopeful hand-made peace symbols as part of their housewares and giftware products. The symbols were shipped to San Francisco and then taken to showrooms in Los Angeles and Dallas. In 2011 a member of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship discovered 23 shipping crates of the peace symbols in the estate of the Dallas showroom manager. Coming from the only nation to have experienced nuclear weapons to the only nation to have used them, the peace symbols had never been opened.

Rediscovered unopened vintage products are always fascinating (especially when they’re from Japan), and this one is especially enigmatic to me since it was produced at a time when WWII was still in the very recent past, in a country that experienced some of the worst events of the war. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with it yet—it seems like a waste to just stick on my fridge—so it’ll stay on my desk for now, its bright orange color never letting me ignore it for too long.

You can learn more about the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, which was originally started in the 1940s as an organization that gave support to conscientious objectors to World War II, on their website.

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