Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Meiji Era Imperial Japanese Infantry Cap

A fellow gamer who is an ardent collector of militaria gave me this Meiji Era Imperial Japanese Army cap. It is authentic and dates somewhere between 1886 (when this cap was introduced with the blue uniform) and 1905 (the end of the Russo-Japanese War).  It is in excellent condition, with only a few holes - from insects, I presume. 
The next photo shows the inside of the cap. It looks as if it was hardly worn, if at all - as the sweat band is in great condition. Also, you should be able to make out the stitching of the cloth - it is sewn in a chrysanthemum pattern. It also has a sewn pocket and a brass breather hole. Impressive workmanship - especially if this is a standard issue cap.
Chris B. (who I first gamed with in a Boxer Rebellion playtest - in which I used my Old Glory Japanese) gave me this priceless artifact. He said he only wanted to have it in the possession of someone who valued it. I sure do - my maternal grandfather was born during the Meiji Era (1880's) and moved to Hawaii shortly after the Russo-Japanese War. He was from Kumamoto in the Kyushu Island, and his family was actually samurai. Probably low-ranking, but samurai nonetheless. I remember him telling me a story when he was a kid and was grooming his grandfather's hair; which was a chore he said he hated to do. He said once, when his grandfather fell asleep while he was combing his hair, he cut off the long lock. Of course, when his grandfather awoke his hide was severely tanned. He also used to tell me stories of sword blades that were in  streams or rivers where old battles were fought. He said the blades of those swords were rust-free and still wanted blood. I'm sure he was just telling tall tales, but I sure loved them.

This photo shows General Oyama, the Commander of the Japanese Second Army during the Russo-Japanese War. The cap is very similar to the one above. The general's cap band has black stripes over it indicating his rank. The colored cap bands were yellow for line troops and red for Guard troops.
Below is an interesting period illustration. It shows Japanese infantry during the Battle of the Sha River. The infantrymen are drinking water from the river using their blue caps. They are wearing either summer, or the newly issued khaki, uniforms.
Once my buddy Adrian finishes his Russians, we should have some good RJW skirmish games - either using The Great War rules, or some home brew rules.

3 comments:

  1. Very cool.
    Nothing like a piece of history that you feel a personal connection to.

    Austin

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  2. Wow, that's quite a treasure!! Glad to see that it's in good hands.

    GregS

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  3. Yes, that cap a most valuable piece of history. And of course I'm not even thinking of any monetary value, but just what it is and what it represents. Thanks, Dean

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