Yokohama: 1905. Unbound. This lettersheet measures 14” x 6.75” unfolded. Inside, half of the sheet is filled with a colorful illustration of a Japanese woman daydreaming of her valiant soldier boyfriend/husband as she writes a letter to him. A honey-comb pop-up representing vibrant green bushes is in the upper left quarter of the letter sheet. It includes crossed flags. One is the National flag, the Nisshoki (Sun Mark) also known as the Hinomaru (Circle of the Sun); the other is the Japanese Imperial Army’s flag, the Jy rokuj -Kyokujitsu-ki (Rising Sun). The message is dated “U.S. Naval Hospital Yokahama Japan Dec7/05.” The Japanese stamps used to post the letter have been peeled away leaving and relatively unobtrusive scuff. Backstamps show that it was received in Ash Fork, Arizona on Dec 27, 1905 after transiting through Seattle. Minor wear. Very good. Item #009250
The lettersheet, was, of course, issued during the patriotic fervor that gripped Japan following their annihilation of the Russia’s eastern fleet and army during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. That war began with Japanese sneak attack upon Russian forces at Port Arthur without first declaring war. Eerily portentous, the letter was written on the 7th of December, the same calendar date that Japan would later begin an undeclared war upon the United States with its infamous sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.The U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokohama was established in 1872 on a bluff overlooking the city specifically to treat sick or injured sailors assigned to the Asiatic Fleet. The Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy notes that “in absence of our naval vessels in Japanese waters consequence to the Russo-Japanese War reduced somewhat the number of cases treated in this hospital. . . .” It also reports in a different section that the USS Concord transferred two injured soldier to the hospital while docked at Nagasaki in May. Perhaps, Burke was one of those patients.