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The Japanese "Wakaso Medical Co.," Series of Postcards

These cards were produced by Manchukuo Development Labour Service Organization and one series at least appears to have been sponsored by the Wakaso Medical Company. The aim of the Manchukuo Development Labour Service Organization was to send up to 10,000 unpaid volunteer workers to Manchukuo each year to help develop civilian and military infrastructure. The workers were young Japanese university and high school students between the ages of 18 and 23 years. Working in special "student units" they would help with road and airfield construction, agricultural training and land reclamation. Medical students would gain experience in the hospitals and clinics.

  This series of postcards closely resembles the range of picture postcards issued by the Post Office of Manchukuo in 1941 (imprinted with a 2f or 10f stamp). The question is "which range was produced first?". It is clear, looking at these cards, that the subjects which are common to both ranges were taken by the same photographers but are not completely identical. My suspicion is that this range was a forerunner of the imprinted picture postcards produced in Manchukuo, and may even have given them the idea of using slogans.

The card used for the Japanese series is white, whereas those of Manchukuo are printed on off white stock, the thickness of the card is similar in both issues, as is the size at 140mm x 90mm or 90mm x 140mm, depending upon orientation.

The Japanese series I now know to have 15 picture cards and a map, some of these are appear below. The series shows;

  1. The state shrine at Hsinking.

  2. The war memorial at Mukden

  3. The state council building, Hsinking.

  4. A view of a main street in Hsinking (two versions known).

  5. A locomotive, possibly the "Asia" express.

  6. A ferry boat, location unknown.

  7. The Manchuria Construction Labourers Organisation work camp.

  8. A North Manchurian pasture.

  9. Anshan steelworks.

  10. Harbin Yacht Club.

  11. A Tibetan Temple at Chengte

  12. A Mukden street scene

  13. Mongolians building a yurt.

  14. A farmer driving a tractor and ploughing.

  15. A farmer cultivating land with a horse.

  16. A card showing a map of Manchukuo with details of agriculture and industry.



Japanese Series

Manchukuoan Series

Anshan Steelworks

The Japanese caption reads "The sound of construction" - Showa seiyoku jo - Anshan - 9

These two Images are almost identical, as far as I can see the differences are all due to the way in which the image has been cropped and the film developed. The photographer, (according to Spalding) is Uchida.

This tinted version of the above card is titled "Industrial Warriors of Anshan" and was issued by the Manchukuo Tourist Union


Japanese Series

Manchukuoan Series


Yacht Club Harbin

The Japanese caption reads "The Yacht Club in spring" - Harbin - 10

Here are two more almost identical images of Harbin Yacht Club, this time slightly different. If you look at these pictures you will see that some people have moved (see the lady in the white dress) however the position of the shadows shows that the time difference between the photographs cannot have been very long. The photographer, (according to Spalding) is Kawase.


Japanese Series

Manchukuoan Series


A Tibetan Temple at Chengte

The Japanese caption reads "Putuo Zongcheng temple complex Chengte" - Hebei - 11

These two images appear identical except for the way in which they have been cropped. The photographer, (according to Spalding) is Torazaki.


Japanese Series 


Japanese Series

The Churei Monument at Mukden

The Japanese caption reads "Blossom and ???" - Mukden - 2

I have another card with a picture similar to this. The caption in English (with corrections) reads "The Churei Monument, Dedicated to the Loyal Soldiers"; the caption in Japanese reads(奉天)幾多忠勇なる将士を祀る忠霊塔. The Churei Monument:  "Apricot blossoms and Monument to the Loyal Dead"

This image is not part of the Manchukuoan series. The photographer, unknown.


Possibly the "bonus" card

The Japanese caption reads "Manchuria Agriculture Map"

This card may not be part of the series, or maybe a bonus card. This clearly is not a photograph and not an obvious part of the numbered series. In all other respects though it is identical.

If it came as part of a pack with the other cards it would advance the date of issue to 1934, because the map includes the province of Jehol. 


Japanese Series



The Japanese caption reads "View of the main street" - Hsinking - 4

Interesting because it dates the series of cards to beyond 1932 due to the name Hsinking (New Capital), before 1932 this was Chang Chun. This image is not part of the Manchukuoan series. The photographer, is unknown, a later (or earlier) set of these cards shows a view of the same view of what is possibly Hsingan Street from above, presumably taken from a tall building.


Japanese Series


Chorei (Morning Call)

The Japanese caption reads "Manchuria Construction Labourers Organisation"  - 7

This card shows a flag of Manchukuo being flown alongside the Japanese flag, further evidence that these cards date to beyond 1932. This image is not part of the Manchukuoan series. The photographer, unknown.


Japanese Series

Big Field

The Japanese caption reads "North Manchurian Pasture"  - 8

This card shows a flag of Manchukuo being flown alongside the Japanese flag, further evidence that these cards date to beyond 1932. This image is not part of the Manchukuoan series. The photographer, unknown.




Card showing translation

Translation of the text on the reverse side of the card.

1. Top, next to stamp box: "Yuubin ehagaki" = Postcard.
2. Centre Line: "Manshu Kensetsu Kinro Hoshitai Honbu" = Manchukuo Development Labour Service Organization - Training HQ
3. Bottom Line: "Wakaso Seiyaku Kabushiki Kaisha Hako" = Wakaso Medical Co. ("Kabushiki Kaisha" basically means they either have private stock or stock market shares).
4. Left Vertical Line: "Kenko yokusan Wakaso" = For Medical Goods, Wakaso, (an advertising slogan).

Captions on the face of the cards appear in Japanese with names of places and buildings shown in Chinese. It is safe to assume the cards were aimed at the Japanese market.

I am not able to search the internet for details of these companies in Japanese and nothing comes up using the English translations, so I can find out little about Wakaso. Maybe these cards were used as gifts by the Wakaso Medical Co. Please note that sets of these cards exist with no mention of the Wakaso Medical Co, so these may be linked to a "one off" promotion. If you know more, please contact me.

My thanks to Gerard Remijn who, with the help of his wife, supplied the above translations, and to Florian Eichhorn for his information concerning Manchukuo Development Labour Service Organization.


Similar Japanese Postcards that make no reference to  the"Wakaso Medical Co.,".
This is card number 5 of a similar, but not identical series and features Anshan (鞍山) Steelworks. The Japanese caption reads "The sound of construction" - Showa seiyoku jo. This is the same caption as appears on number 9, above.

The most noticeable difference is the colour and quality of the card, this is poor compared to the items shown above. The likelihood is that this is a later version of the first set.

  The reverse shows that the card was posted from Tung-ning (東寧), now Dongning on 8th August 1944. The violet box and red/orange chop denote that the card went via the Japanese censors.

This card does not mention the Wakaso Medical Company but the central characters are identical reading Manchukuo Development Labour Service Organization - Training HQ. It may be that Wakaso had ceased trading by then or had simply withdrawn sponsorship.