Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

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Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

Post  wfrad on Sun 17 Aug 2008, 1:07 pm

Here's some illustrations of Imperial army NCO ranks for the 1890's.
From bits and pieces on a couple of web pages and Tadao Nakata's Imperial Japanese Army and Navy Uniforms & Equipment, the later is in Japanese so I hope the info is correct.
Although the book is full of information, much of the print is very faint and quite hard to read (very hard if you don't know Japanese).
I've added a direct link so the full page can be seen.
Regards
WF
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Re: Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

Post  buistR on Sun 17 Aug 2008, 3:57 pm

That's excellent work wfrad! Japanese Army uniforms of the pre-1904 period are an interesting but frustrating subject. Contemporary western sources are often confused and contradictory because (i) the country was a long way away dammit!; and (ii) the Japanese system of branch and rank distinctions differed in concept and structure from their European counterparts. Thus even junior ncos could have multiple cuff rings (three for a Joto-hei or lance corporal) and facings could be in a mix of branch or corps (Imperial Guard or Line) colours. As you correctly show the former had red bands on their caps and the latter yellow, regardless of branch. Imperial Guard cavalry wore red hussar type froggings on their blue tunics and line cavalry yellow - but they both had green branch collars and stripes on their red breeches. Things got a bit simpler after the Russo-Japanese War when they all went into khaki and red hat bands became the norm.

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Japanese Officers 1890s

Post  wfrad on Mon 18 Aug 2008, 6:44 am

BuistR
Here’s the officers uniforms, again they have a number of variations as you mentioned, such as cavalry have plain and coloured braid. Medics have a deeper green than the cavalry, Engineers seems to be a medium shade of brown. It appears that Guard units have the same facings as the line regiments, with additional red braid on hats.
I think the Japanese military during this period couldn't make their minds up about which western power to copy, there's a little of America, France and British.
Also some illustrations of infantry uniforms have red edging on the tunic, others don’t.
If you can read Japanese, you are welcome to some scans and try to figure it out.
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Re: Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

Post  buistR on Mon 18 Aug 2008, 7:37 pm

Yes I wondered about the red piping often shown on the front of the 1886 infantry tunics for other ranks. They are common in German and French prints of the periods but the only two Japanese sources that I have (the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy book that you cite and a set of coloured cards from the Imperial Military Museum in Tokyo) show only plain fronts. Of course there could have been separate dress and service tunics - the former more ornamented than the latter; or details of the uniform may have changed during the 18 or so years that it was worn. There is a fairly recently published book by the Japanese military artist and writer Ritta Nakanishi covering this period which I never was able to lay hands on - a pity because his bilingual first book "Japanese Military Uniforms 1930-1945 was very detailed and (apparently) authentic.

Great work on your part!

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Re: Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

Post  Sean on Wed 20 Aug 2008, 9:20 pm

Excellent work wrfad.
Asia is an undiscovered wonder for uniforms, as is South America.
It's great to see research in these areas.
Keep up your great work.

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Japanese uniforms

Post  wfrad on Sat 23 Aug 2008, 7:53 am

Thanks,
I have a couple of pages with German text taken from a museum site (lost the link when hard drive failed, and yes I forgot to backup).
Again they confuse just as much as enlighten. Problem also is the poor quality of the illustrations. One thing though, German’s far easier to translate than Japanese and Chinese.
On the illustration of the cap I deliberately wrote ‘top’ rather than ‘crown’ because I thought it would translate easier.
May seem silly but after trying to translate the Japanese from Tadao Nakata’s book I just wanted to keep it basic.
You probably have the illustrations I mentioned but just in case you don’t I could email them to you. I haven’t posted them in case they have copyrights.
buistR, as for the bilinquil book I only wish!
I believe you may have copies of the following, so for anyone else who may be interested:
Japanese uniforms of the 30's & 40's, Andrew Mollo has a couple of books including Uniforms & Insignia of the Navies of World War II, which also includes the navies of Argentine, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and Turkey along with the major combatants of WWII which is OK. Theres also Almark's Japanese Army Uniforms and Equipment 39-45 by Roy Dilley and Rosignoli's WWII book2.
I mention these books because of there availability, good reference at a low price tag .
Regards
WF

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Re: Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

Post  ChrisF202 on Sat 23 Aug 2008, 9:58 pm

wfrad wrote:Thanks,
I have a couple of pages with German text taken from a museum site (lost the link when hard drive failed, and yes I forgot to backup).
Again they confuse just as much as enlighten. Problem also is the poor quality of the illustrations. One thing though, German’s far easier to translate than Japanese and Chinese.
On the illustration of the cap I deliberately wrote ‘top’ rather than ‘crown’ because I thought it would translate easier.
May seem silly but after trying to translate the Japanese from Tadao Nakata’s book I just wanted to keep it basic.
You probably have the illustrations I mentioned but just in case you don’t I could email them to you. I haven’t posted them in case they have copyrights.
buistR, as for the bilinquil book I only wish!
I believe you may have copies of the following, so for anyone else who may be interested:
Japanese uniforms of the 30's & 40's, Andrew Mollo has a couple of books including Uniforms & Insignia of the Navies of World War II, which also includes the navies of Argentine, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and Turkey along with the major combatants of WWII which is OK. Theres also Almark's Japanese Army Uniforms and Equipment 39-45 by Roy Dilley and Rosignoli's WWII book2.
I mention these books because of there availability, good reference at a low price tag .
Regards
WF
Thanks for the suggestions, I will definitely be looking into those books.

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Books and link

Post  wfrad on Sun 24 Aug 2008, 1:01 am

Chris
I would think that you have seen this site before, most google searches end up here.
So just in case you haven't, here's a couple of pages that may interest you.
The German insignia comes from Guido Rosignoli's Army Badges and Insignia of WWII book one (Japanese insig in book two). Just thought it would give you an idea about the books.
The digger history sites good for general info, but for Australian uniforms and badges it excels.
Word of warning! give yourself plenty of free time as the site's quite large.
http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-uniforms/japanese-ww1.htm
http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-uniforms/japanese2.htm
http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-uniforms/japanese.htm
http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-badges/germany.htm
Regards
WF

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Japanese Uniforms c1900

Post  Mike Blake on Fri 24 Apr 2009, 12:03 am

I would be very grateful if the posters to this thread would take a look at the following text and offer corrections and additions please - it is clear that there is a great deal of expertise on the topic here. The information is a synthethis of a number of sources, including the books mentioned (including the Ritta Nakanishi one, which is only bi-lingual to a very limited extent but has lots of wonderful detail - I will check where I got mine from and post the supplier in case anyone wants to try to get a copy) and is for the Infantry only.

Uniforms
“… natty little Japanese, in white ... from head to foot, even their gaiters being of white cloth, the only point of colour about them being a broad band of yellow round the little peaked cap…”
Thompson

‘“Small and compactly built as they were, there was a little difference in size between them, it was a common joke that the whole Japanese army were outfitted by a ready-made firm who only made one size of clothing… Their uniform consisted of a black [sic] tunic, white German [sic] cap, white trousers, white spats, and serviceable boots. As far as colour went, it was too visible, and the Japanese authorities have decided henceforth to adopt Khaki.’
-Lt Dix, RN

“The Japanese, strange to say, suffered from the sun quite as much as any of the Western nations, owing, probably, to the insufficient protection afforded by their caps; though as they always marched before sunrise they were not exposed to it in the same degree…. The Japanese lost in several attacks far more than the British who were alongside them, and exposed to precisely the same fire; the difference in loss being attributed to the conspicuous colour of their uniforms.”
Thompson

In the 1870s the Japanese army had become very European, modelled after the French, with no remaining element of traditional Japanese clothing. With the ascendancy of Prussia, German instructors were brought in and French influence declined, but the 1886 regulation uniform was still stylistically Gallic.

There were winter and summer versions of the uniform, with the usual forms of dress, eg parade, campaign etc. Parade uniforms were much fancier than the uniforms worn in the field and included coloured kepis with plumes.
Winter uniforms for all arms were prescribed as dark blue, a colour so dark that, like the Russian ‘dark green’ it was actually black. Contemporary foreign observers usually described it as such.

The dark blue M1886 flat-crowned peaked field cap was only slightly wider at the top but much taller than the lower ‘German’ style. It had a black leather peak and chin strap secured by small buttons. The cap band was 1½” wide and at the top and sides of the cap was a narrow strip of piping; yellow for line. All branches wore a brass five-point star badge on the band at the front.

The M1886 close fitting dark blue woollen material single breasted tunic extended only 3 inches below the belt and fastened by 5 brass buttons. Most sources give a red standing collar with dark blue piping on the top edge, but Nakinishi gives a plain blue collar, and Ivanov blue piped in yellow for line troops and scarlet for Guard. Some sources give red piping on the tunic front. The shoulder straps were red, the 1887 regulations infantry branch-of-service colour and had the regimental number in yellow [white, Nakinishi] metal Arabic numerals on them at the shoulder end. They fastened with a small yellow metal button near the collar. The coat skirts had small vertical slits on each hip. On the left side was a loop which but-toned up over the belt, supporting the weight of the bayonet and scabbard.

Trousers were dark blue, with a 1 inch wide stripe down the outer seam, yellow for line troops and scarlet for the Guard. They were worn tucked into white cloth gaiters which reached up to just below the knee and buttoned up the outside, with a buckled leather strap fastening at the top and another passing under the shoe.

Enlisted rank was indicated by black cords worn around the sleeve above the cuff. Privates wore one cord, private 2nd class wore two and privates 1st class wore three. Corporals wore a broad stripe in the branch colour below one black cord. Sergeants wore two cords, senior sergeants three. Sergeant majors added a narrow gold stripe between the branch stripe and the three cords.

The soldier’s summer uniform was all white linen, except the cap, which was covered with a white cloth cover over the crown of the cap, which did not cover the coloured band so that these are clearly visible in photographs. A white cotton neck-protector or ‘Havelock’ was sometimes worn, attached to the sides & back of the cap. For the men this was in 3 parts and hung from the top cover, obscuring the coloured band at the sides and rear. It was often tucked up inside the cap. The trousers lacked the branch colour stripe on the seam. The gaiters were white, but one of the first items of khaki appear to have been gaiters. The summer service uniform was without branch-of-service distinctions but some sources say that the summer uniforms did have the various coloured piping, but just the edges of the shoulder straps were branch-of-service colour, ie for the infantry, red.

Rank insignia on summer uniforms was in the form of branch-of-service colour chevrons for corporals and sergeants only.
Blue and white items are shown worn together in contemporary photos in just about all possible combinations, no doubt as a result of field wear and tear. Dark blue jackets were worn with white caps and trousers even in the heat, possibly as they made less obvious a target.
Undergarments were a light cotton shirt and drawers, heel-less stockings, and an abdominal ‘bandage’.

Footwear was brown leather hobnail shoes, greased rather than polished. Other footwear seen was the traditional tabi, light fabric shoes with the big toe separated.

The M1886 overcoat was of heavy dark blue material, unlined, single-breasted with large bone buttons, two side slash pockets, buttoned-on hood and a throat piece closure, reached just below the knees. During warm weather it could be carried instead of the blanket. When carried but not worn it was rolled, over the left shoulder with the ends fastened together on the right side. There was a second type of cold weather coat, also dark blue and single-breasted, but with a goatskin lining.

Bugler’s wore the same uniform and carried a rifle; the bugle was carried on a dark [red?] cord around the neck in a large loop, with 2 large tassels.

Remarkably, there were 7 types of standard (simplified) full dress! Full Dress uniform for officers was the French kepi with white plume and gold sleeve braiding. Officers wore a dark blue uniform similar to the enlisted men, but the M1886 or M1900 Attila [hussar-frogged] jacket rather than the tunic. The Attila was of the same length as the tunic, with 5 rows of black silk cord frogging with hanging loop ends across the chest and black buttons. The front edges, collar, bottom edge and back seams were trimmed with black mohair braid. Trousers were dark blue with a red side seam stripe; narrow for company officers [ie up to Captain], broad for field officers [ie up to Colonel] and 2 stripes for general officers. Officers riding breeches were plain for company and field officers, whilst general officers had one broad red stripe. Summer white trousers were plain. Most officers wore butcher boots in both summer and winter dress, but some wore shoes.
Rank was indicated by black lines around the centre of the coloured band on the cap, and by black Austrian knot French-style ‘chicken guts’ above the cuff on the Attila. In the infantry and military police there were no lines on for privates, NCOs and WOs, 1 line for company officers, 2 for field officers and 3 lines for generals; in the cavalry none for privates, NCOs, 3 for company officers, 4 for field officers.

Rank Winter cuff knots Summer rings and stars
Field Marshal [Gen-sui] 7 braid triple ring knot, enamel badge on chest 3 rings, 3 stars, enamel badge on chest
General [Tai-sho] 7 braid triple ring knot 3 rings, 3 stars
Lt General [Cho-sho] 6 braid triple ring knot 2 rings, 3 stars
Maj General [Sho-sho] 5 braid triple ring knot 1 ring, 3 stars
Colonel [Tai-sa] 6 braid 1 ring knot 3 rings, 2 stars
Lt Colonel 5 braid 1 ring knot 2 rings, 2 stars
Major 4 braid 1 ring knot 1 ring, 2 stars
Captain 3 braid 1 ring knot 3 rings, 1 star
Lieutenant 2 braid 1 ring knot 2 rings, 1 star
2nd Lieutenant 1 braid 1 ring knot 1 ring, 1 star

The M1874 summer white officers’ jacket had white frogging like the winter Attila and white buttons. The M1900 was plain fronted but had internal breast and hip pockets. Sometimes these are shown with flaps and sometimes without. Rank insignia were worn on the cuffs of the summer jacket; M1886 designs were Austrian knots like the winter style, but in M1893 were simplified rings and stars. A similar system was used on the great coat, both M1875 and M1886. For officers the white cap cover was one-part and came from under the cap so none of the coloured band was hidden.

Service dress was formally established in 1886 but old and new uniforms were mixed and used in practice. Acceptable forms of dress for officers was broad, and included all dark blue; dark blue cap and jacket with white trousers; all white with blue cap; blue cap and trousers with white jacket; there were at least 32 different combinations by 1904!

On campaign Japanese officers may have adopted enlisted men’s uniforms to be less conspicuous, with revolvers and swords, as they did later in the RJW.

Khaki
As Lt Dix says in the quote, the Japanese adopted khaki as campaign dress as standard and it was worn during the Russo-Japanese War. However, Capt Casserly wrote “Beginning the war in white uniform, the disadvantages of such a conspicuous dress were soon evident, and khaki was substituted.” (Casserly 1903). That the change was made during the time the Japanese were in China this is further supported by photographs of the Boxer Rebellion in the National Army Museum archives of uniforms of the various branch-of-service in China; one infantryman wears a complete khaki uniform of cap, coat and trousers. It follows the style of the white and dark blue uniforms, including neckcloth.

Many thanks

Mike Blake

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Re: Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

Post  buistR on Tue 03 Nov 2009, 8:31 pm

I have just come across Mike Blake's Japanese Army 1900-05 material. Mike has pulled together a lot of information on this fascinating but (sometimes) infuriatingly obscure subject and lights up a number of dark corners.

A couple of minor points that my own browsings have (I think) been able to clarify:

(i) the coloured piping (yellow for line units, red for Imperial Guard) that is sometimes shown on other rank tunic fronts and skirts was not a whim of foreign artists (unlike the white facings that contemporary German and French prints incorrectly show as the branch colour of the artillery - it was always yellow). R. Nakanishi shows this trim as a feature of full dress uniforms - usually worn with a rather ugly shako (dark blue for line, red for Guard) decorated with a red based white "shaving brush" plume. The headdress usually seen in both photographs and illustrations during this period is nearly always the distinctive peaked "pill box" cap that came to typify the Japanese soldier in the Western mind during the mid-Meiji era (1894-1911). However contemporary Japanese prints representing everyday life in barracks c1900 show shakoes neatly lined up on shelves above the soldiers' beds - clearly a universal issue though possibly only worn for ceremonial occasions.

(ii) Japanese cavalry of the line wore the same yellow bands and piping as line infantry on their peaked caps, apparently until 1900 (when several other modifications to the M1886 uniform occured). The green cavalry branch colour was then substituted for yellow on the cap, bringing it in line with the existing green facing colour on collars and trouser stripes. The elaborate hussar style frogging (again yellow for line and red for Imperial Guard cavalry) continued unchanged even for active service until khaki came in during the Russo-Japanese War.

The most detailed and authoritative source for information on Japanese uniforms of the Meiji/Taisho eras is almost certainly Ritta Nakanishi's "Japanese Military Uniforms 1841-1929" published in Tokyo c2001. Since then it has proven to be a shy and elusive book - at least outside Japan. Grateful if Mike or anyone else could suggest where I could lay my greedy hands on a copy.

Regards

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Re: Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

Post  ChrisF202 on Tue 03 Nov 2009, 9:30 pm

If you do a Google search you can find it as a .pdf on Rapidshare and the like but that poses a computer safety risk but after I saw some color plates from this book I think it would be worth the risk though. Looks excellent.

http://www.hlj.com/product/MDG22919
^ from a Japanese hobby store, of course it is out of stock and out of print Crying or Very sad

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Japnese Uniforms 1841-1929 book on Ebay

Post  Les-Art on Wed 04 Nov 2009, 1:40 am

Hi BuistR,
I read your post and can't believe that you are having problems tracking done a copy of this Japanese book.
Perhaps it's the price that is the sticking point.
There are 5 copies currently being offered on Ebay, the cheapest is this listing;
seller is 'overthebluehorizon' listing # 220485510916 'Buy it Now' price of £ 33.58 shipping is over £ 20.00 though so not that cheap.

I got my copy from Japan from 'arcotower2' which has a book store with some excellent military titles, they currently have an Ebay listing # 120472761283 ' buy it now' £ 40.65 you will have to email them for a shippoing charge. I got my copy two years ago from them and paid £ 35.00 including express delivery from Japan in 7 days! Talking with them then it became clear that this title is OUT OF PRINT and has been for about 5 years, so copies that are still found do go for a premium price, when they do find copies in MInt Condition then the price is higher than the last as the way book sellers think is the older the item ,the fewer around ,the more it is worth. They offered me a good service and it is worth checking out their bookstore on Ebay and the link to their shop for some unusual Japanese history titles.

So my advice would be that if you really want a copy of this book think about getting one sooner rather than later as the price will certainly keep going up as the months/years pass by.

If you go to all five ebay listings there are enough scans shown that you can download quite a few pages which may give you some info.

So getting a copy of this book is not difficult just costly, so that would be your call. Be aware however that not ever page is in colour and some of the uniforms that I was interested in are on the black and white pages which I found annoying. Overall it is an excellent publication and definately covers a subject not seen outside Japan.

Best Regards,
Les

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Re: Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

Post  buistR on Wed 04 Nov 2009, 5:52 am

Many thanks Chris and Les - I will follow up the options given.

Regards

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Re: Imperial Japanese Ranks 1894

Post  wfrad on Sun 21 Feb 2010, 11:55 am

Just posting this to add to the general confusion regarding the translating of Japanese text for those of use with an overworked single grey cell like myself.
Imperial Japanese Army and Navy [TADAO NAKATA] differs slightly from Osprey’s in minor details and also with Japanese Military Uniforms 1841-1929 by Ritta Nakanishi.
Mainly its regarding the senior nco's broad stripe as the colour sometimes depended on the corps or function.
So I’ve Illustrated a senior private, which some translations label as corporal which further adds to the debate about ranks and their English/European equivalents.
So I will add this and hope for further enlightenment.
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