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Chinese Shoulder patch


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my guess is 米國陸軍寫真班 = US Army cameramen (?)

but perhaps this is Japanese and not Chinese?

At least 寫真班 seems to be a Japanese word according to a quick google search...

But why would US Army cameramen (or photographers) have a shoulder patch in Chinese characters??

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Hi, thank yous for the reply's.

The patch was found with some other military shoulder patches. So I thought it could also be a military patch.

It looked like Chinese symbols to me but it may be Japanese or Taiwanese.

Not sure just what it is till I can get it fully translated.

You translated part of it( assuming that was Chinese)

And you think the last 3 symbols could be Japanese?

Or do you think it is all Japanese or Taiwanese?

What oriental language would use two different language symbols?

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The use of 米国 (Japanese) instead of 美国 (Chinese) should give it away. After that, just remember your history lessons.


The patch indicates that the wearer is a member of a U.S Army photographer team. Similar patches probably existed for the Navy and Marine Corps, (there wasn't an Air Force, yet). Also, members of the the hundreds of US (and Allied) civilian agencies were required to wear Army uniforms without insignia to indicate they were members of the Allied government. I'm less sure, but I assume they had their identifying patches, too.


While MacArthur was the Supreme Allied Commander in occupied Japan, roughly up to 1950, Japanese still used the prewar versions of kanji (hanzi) until simplifications and standardizations were carried out. The purpose of simplification of kanji was the same as that of simplification of hanzi in China, that is, to make them easier to read and write, and therefore aid in boosting literacy among segments of the population that had previously been frozen out of the education system. But in the beginning of the Occupation, standards had not yet been agreed upon, so the more complicated, older forms of characters were the only alternative.

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The last post came in just as I was uploading my two cents on the subject. I figured it would be O.K. if I offered another couple of cents.


The last three characters are the Japanese version of Photographer Team. One of the photographers in my neighborhood still writes his shop name on the storefront using those characters, as his father, and possibly previous generations of his family were photographers in the same location. The first two are read "shashin," and mean photograph or photography in the older characters used in Japan before and immediately after the war. The last character is han, and it means squad or team. This is the source of the American word "honcho," or boss, team leader (班長). Hancho was mispronounced as honcho by the American troops, and the rest is history. In elementary and middle schools in Japan, the kids are still organized into various han (班), collecting trash, erasing the blackboards, reorganizing desks after lunch period, and so on. Each little han will have its hancho (班長) or leader.


I'm sure the patch is at least a replica of a real patch, and certainly could be the real thing. The thing you have to be careful about is that military hobbyists are thirsty for things like this, so enterprising dealers have been producing replicas for a long time. 

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First let me thank everyone for all of this info, very much appreciated and very interesting.

Next lets recap some of it. We are pretty sure than that it says U.S. Army Camerman/or Photographer team and that it is of Japanese origin and possibly from the World War ll  Era or a reproduction from that era correct?

Is that pretty much what it says or would a Japanese translation give me any more information?


Thanks again I appreciate the info much


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Unless there's a parallel universe kickin' in here, you have all the facts at your command. The only issue is whether the patch is genuine or a replica.


It is written in Japanese (米), not Chinese (美), but a native speaker of either language would be able to read it. Historically, there was an American occupation of Japan for about 5 years (late 1945~). There was no occupation of China, but if US military personnel assigned to China during the Anti-Japanese War had similar patches, they would have been written in Chinese (美). There is no need for a Japanese translation, as it is already written in Japanese. A Chinese translation would be the same, substituting (美) for (米). The characters used are  currently used on Taiwan, and in Hong Kong, were used before the revolution in China, and were used in prewar, and briefly in post-war Japan. An English translation, looked at from either a Chinese or a Japanese perspective, would be the same: US Army Photographer Team.


Just don't bet the farm on the replica versus genuine question.


'nuff said.

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I'm not sure if you are addressing this to me or the original poster. But to clear up any misunderstandings I may have created, let me say I tried to make clear that this is either a real patch or a replica of a real patch. I tried to make it clear it is written in Japanese using 米国, not the Chinese term 美国. (I don't have traditional turned on right now on my computer to give the "fantizi" version of 国.) I tried to point out that the Chinese and Japanese terms for America use these different terms. The word for photography is also the current Japanese term written in the characters of the time (immediately postwar), not the currently used Chinese term. I don't know if there was any time when both Chinese and Japanese used the same term for photography, but, as you point out, they are certainly different now, and if you say so, I'll definitely concede they were not the same at any time. I simply don't know. I may not have stated that clearly enough.  


As for the word "team," it is an amorphous term that can mean different things at different times. The word "班" can be translated at different times as squad, team, section, group, etc., when applied in this military context. The patch was obviously used to identify the wearer to Japanese not Americans, as the Americans wouldn't have a clue to its meaning. As photographers in those days could be attached to any project or military unit for reasons of either historical documentation, recording of evidence, for or public relations, this patch just served to tell who was who (even though the cameras would be a dead giveaway). It was also used to inform people of the wearers official assignment. And I hope I made clear that this is an Occupation-era patch, not a currently used patch. 


If I misled anyone, I apologize.

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