The Mitsubishi A6M 'Zero' was one of the Second World War's most effective fighter aircraft. Flying from land bases for the army and from aircraft carriers for the navy, Zero fighters were the wings of the Japanese Empire, showing the flag of the rising sun from Alaska to Australia. It's estimated that over the course of the war, Zero fighters destroyed at least 1,550 American aircraft was responsible for hundreds of additional casualties in its role as "special attack" aircraft: kamikaze planes.
Such a large legacy can't simply be swept under history's rug, so to speak, and though Imperial Japan was defeated in 1945 the memory of the Mitsubishi Zero lives on in the hearts and minds of today's JASDF (Japan Air Self Defense Force) pilots and indeed, in the culture of a nation that has renounced war as an instrument of policy.
With all this in mind, it's not too much of a surprise to see Japanese Navy "Zero Fighter" Kewpie Charms being sold alongside other army, navy and air force themed charms at the Military Shop ROCK LAND Military Goods & Fashion website. The packaging, emblazoned with the distinctive red & white war flag, tends to stand out somewhat.
Rock Land operates in the fashion of military PX stores on selected bases in Japan, so it's not like these charms are some sort of underground, unofficial novelty - just the opposite.
The Japanese Navy "Zero Fighter" Kewpie charms go for 500 yen each (about $5.50). The charms incongruously combine a stylized Zero fighter covered in dark green felt with the cute smiling face of a kewpie doll. Scary & sweet, together at last, complete with a woven fabric chain so you can affix them to your cell phone, backpack, rearview mirror or whatever.
Rock Land's website reminds visitors that every year for the past 53 years, the U.S. Marine Corps air station at Iwakuni, Japan hosts their famed Friendship Festival. Be sure and stop by Rock Land's booth and pick up a few Zero fighter kewpie charms (among other things), because nothing signifies friendship between these wartime enemies like the iconic aircraft that attacked Pearl Harbor... with the face of a cute kewpie doll.