Very Unique Kagoshima Air Group Kamikaze Training Living National Treasure Inoue Manji Signed Veteran Sake Cup
This is a very unique item - decorated with two wings with cherry blossoms and the words "Kagoshima Air Group" "23rd Class Pilot Preliminary Practice Student". The words on the back of the cup is the name of the kiln, Fukagawa porcelain. The cup comes with original wooden box signed by the artist, Inoue Manji, with his name chop. The other words on the lid of the cup are "Kagoshima Air Group Classmates" "Commemoration Cup".
So, who is this Inoue Manji person? Well, he's one of nine living national treasures of Japan in the pottery category, and a very famous potter of the Arita area. He was made a living national treasure in the year 1995 - these are craftsman and artisans who are designated by the Japanese government as particularly skilled in their art, and are celebrated as great living artists. He was born in 1929. The 23rd class of the Kagoshima Air Group was from the year 1944. These preliminary training squads started in 1930 and were really for basic training, meant for preparing a pilot for future training later in the navy's long training program. However, in late war these kids were then often sent to be kamikaze pilots after they get enough training to fly. Often the limitation was not the availability of people, but planes for the job.
Inoue Manji was one of these volunteers who entered training when he was 15 in 1944. He stayed in the group for a year until the end of the war, at which point he went back to pottery, his family's old profession. You can google him and find out more - there's a short interview here, for example. This cup probably marked some kind of reunion of people in his class, for which he made these cups to commemorate the occasion. There's a CV of his career included with this cup and signed by him, the last date for which is 1999. My guess is the reunion took place shortly afterwards. As a living national treasure, his ceramics are museum grade and highly sought after by collectors.
Size: 3.25" across