Food rations in the Japanese forces

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
ChristopherPerrien
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 23 May 2013 18:28

I will say , that this topic has the best chance of eventually defeating " Beheadings in the Reich" as being the longest/ best/obscure/stickie running topic on the forum. I had a "cuntender", on Pearl Harbor, but I got mad and lost it.

We might know in 10-20 years. :lol:

Chris

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 24 May 2013 16:37

Thank you all for cheering. It is nice to have some 'soldier life' aspects in the forum, as military issues tend to deal with anything deadly.

They say Japaneses began to produce Worcestershire sauce ('usta-sause' in Japan) in 1880s. Several venturers, including soy sauce venders, tried this new business.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcestershire_sauce

By 1920s they became popular enough. For example, earlier version of okonomiyaki used usta sauce. As it was Japanized they invented thicker variants.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okonomiyaki

And it is common that topping a little amount of Worcestershire sauce or its variants on curry rice, though less popular among youngsters.
https://www.google.co.jp/search?q=%E3%8 ... 80&bih=677

Another seasoning from Western cuisine, more important for military life, was tomato ketchup.

'Chicken rice' is a chicken pilaf/fried rice seasoned with tomato ketchup. 'Omu-rice' was a variant of omelette, stuffed with rice (often chicken rice) and topped by ketchup. Both cuisine were at least served for navy officers. I am not sure sailors enjoyed it ... cooking huge amount of any of the two at once looks difficult.

Chiken rice(pics):
https://www.google.co.jp/search?q=%E3%8 ... 80&bih=677

Omu-rice(pics): Today instead of ketchap some cookers use demiglace sauce.
https://www.google.co.jp/search?q=%E3%8 ... 80&bih=700

Today American MRE includes chicken w/rice. It seems boiled, rather than fried.

A strange ketchap cuisine in Japan is a 'Napolitan Spagetti'. It is a boiled pasta sauteed with tomato kechap, meat and vegetables. Typically they use sliced sausage and onion. It has nothing to do with Napoli. This dish was easy to cook at once in primary school kitchens and became popular in school lunch after the war.
Napolitan Spagetti(pics):
https://www.google.co.jp/search?q=%E3%8 ... 80&bih=700

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by eidechse » 30 May 2013 00:34

Sorry to say that i have not much to contribute ,but read all about food and rationing .Must say the german en japanese have the best subjects on it! Always amazed how a cook can make something of not much ,and even tasty :)
There is not much around over this subject ,specialy not what i like to read, food in submarines,how a cook made the food after it was not realy fresh anymore,how the dit it,recipes.
So basicly what the eat on board a japanese submarine.

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hisashi
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 30 May 2013 02:16

A propaganda movie 'Go-Chin' was on show in Apr 1944. It dealt with IJN submarine operations in Indian Ocean.








Part 2 of 7 includes a scene of cooking and meal. Narration says ration was good for a few first days and meals from canned materials follows.

Moreover they could not use fire while they were under sea, so loss of appetite was common. On the other hand submariners were in a sense 'short of exercise' in small hull. So they supplied as far as possible appetizing foods, but with lower calorie compared to surface vessel sailors.

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Wellgunde » 30 May 2013 06:54

Excellent food seems to be a tradition among all submariners including the 'dongame.' Several years ago, I spend several days aboard JMSDF Kuroshio and had some very fine meals. I would think though that the World War II era Japanese submarines were equipped with electric ovens, stoves and grills as was common in other navies.

Did frontline Japanese army troops have access to Tsukemono (漬物)?

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hisashi
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 30 May 2013 17:35

I have seen a Japanese farmer's blog, reporting tsukemono from thinned-out immature kiwi fruit. If any vegetable was available, it would be possible to make tsukemono. But it needed plenty of salt, and vineger (suzuke or asazuke) or rice bran (nukazuke), so in bad supply condition they must give it up.

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Sewer King
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 20 Jun 2013 02:44

My thanks to all who visit this topic, and especially those who put in any say or question, however small.
JKindred wrote: Alan,
I suppose I am one of the passers-by. I have very much enjoyed this thread not only for the historical aspect but also for gaining ideas in learning how to prepare Japanese food.
Books: The original search engine.
About historical aspect and getting ideas -- long ago in another short thread, someone got the idea to cook an IJN curry for his girlfriend. Although as Hisashi told earlier, the former IJN port cities are rivals for claim to recipes of the original Navy curry. Maybe also proprietary about recipes themselves?

I myself am the passer-by in many of the other busy threads about ETO and German military subjects. If I knew more I might add more. Even when I do, the traffic can be so heavy that my say gets missed. But that is OK, since it can’t be helped. I can be happy simply to have asked as good a question as I can. Sometimes it’s answered later. Even if not, the question is opened in someone else’s mind.

In any case, my thanks for putting in your appreciation.

Likely, you have seen various good English-language Japanese cookbooks, from Japanese publishers and authors. Some Japanese websites about food have English pages too. Some of both I have used to look up an ingredient, or read more about a reference from Hisashi. Yet there seem few scholarly, all-Japanese-food histories in English. Two of them have often been cited here. I often imagined that there is much in Japanese print, even if more specialized works.
  • Chopsticks NY is a magazine about Japanese resources, culture, and community in New York City, A recent issue mentioned a woman who teaches Japanese language there. She uses Japanese food and cuisine as a subject for her students to write about, because their enthusiasm for it helps their learning Japanese expression.

    It is remotely like our seeing IJA history campaigns through the lens of food –- or lack of food.
By the way, my wife is a librarian who has a shirt that reads: “LIBRARIAN: the original search engine.”

My own corollary: “An OPEN MIND: the original computer.”

===================================
Christopher Perrien wrote:I will say, that this topic has the best chance of eventually defeating "Beheadings in the Reich" as being the longest/ best/obscure/stickie running topic on the forum. I had a "contender", on Pearl Harbor, but I got mad and lost it . . .
My thanks to you also, Christopher. I am not a hard-hitter on the Forum like you, so when the hard-hitter has some good word for a low-light, the latter is especially thankful.

Since you size up this thread’s longevity against “Beheadings in the Third Reich,” that bears out just what Hisashi said about the more lethal focus of other war topics. I have wondered a little about the long interest of that particular one. For my own part I thought there was an old German tradition of execution by beheading, that continued on to the Nazis.

===================================
hisashi wrote:Thank you all for cheering. It is nice to have some 'soldier life' aspects in the forum, as military issues tend to deal with anything deadly.
I agree. Moreover, there are some common tellings about IJA soldier life which:
  • become new with better detail; or
    they need correction of popular misconception in English-language print,
    or, they can be completely wrong,
I should add that I myself have often been guilty of the last two, though trying to learn better.

In English, the lives of Imperial Japanese servicemen have seldom been covered in detail both comprehensively and authoritatively. By comparison to German and Allied soldiers’ lives, there are many source books. Even their army regulations can often be found. Some authors have done their best for the IJA and IJN in smaller formats, such as in recent Osprey Publishing series volumes.

I always imagined it would be best if Japanese-speaking Western authors could work with Japanese experts. There are various books well-written this way about Japanese manga (comics), swords, art & design, etc. Then their collaboration could fill the “gap” of English-language books about Japanese soldier and sailor life. But even if this could happen (against probability) it would take long research, many arrangements, and much time in Japan itself. Publishing might itself be some problem, although there are many good military history publishers.

====================================
hisashi wrote:. . . They say Japaneses began to produce Worcestershire sauce ('usta-sauce' in Japan) in 1880s. Several venturers, including soy sauce vendors, tried this new business.

By 1920s they became popular enough. For example, earlier version of okonomiyaki used usta sauce. As it was Japanized they invented thicker variants.
This same is often noted about Japanese curry, that it is thicker than others. Japan’s S&B Golden Curry brand is an instant kind, now commonly available worldwide. I had supposed that being thicker made it mix better with rice servings. But according to S&B’s history of Japanese curry, this also came from its British model.

Since usta sauce is thicker than Worcestershire, Americans might find it similar to what they call ”steak sauces” for topping meat servings. Such as their A-1 Sauce and Heinz 57 brands.

Though very different, it‘s interesting that Worcestershire sauce share the same Eastern origins as ketchup, via the British.
  • In 18th century Britain, “ketchup” or “catchup” was homemade, and copied in the American colonies. They were typically made of vinegar, white wine, anchovies, and spices such as mace, ginger, pepper, lemon peel, and horseradish. Other kinds of ketchup were made with beer, mushrooms, and walnuts. The 18th cen. British reportedly even imported ketchup from India, although I think this sounds more like chutney if the other ketchup was homemade from local ingredients.

    Hume, Audrey Noel. Colonial Williamsburg Archaeological Series [pamphlet] no. 9: Food. (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1979), pages 43-44
All these sauces seem to have begun as liquid from either salt-pickled vegetables or fish. This includes the fermented fish sauces common across Southeast Asia, and the ancient Roman garum which survived into the Byzantine period. In fact, Worcestershire sauce is made from both vegetables and fish (small traces). It sounds similar to what Hisashi said, where soy sauce had begun as liquid pressed from making miso.

I had wondered what condiments (if any) might have been used with Japanese soldiers’ meals. They do not seem evident in photos, unless too small to be easily seen. Soldiers and sailors typically ate at their quarters, and there was no common mention of sauces alongside meals. Soy sauce seemed more used as cooking ingredient than table condiment.

Mustard and vinegar were common on US Army and Navy tables through the 19th Cen, with bottles excavated from camp sites and mentioned in supply accounts. Commercial brand-name sauces were bought as extras with company funds,
hisashi wrote:. . . And it is common that topping a little amount of Worcestershire sauce or its variants on curry rice, though less popular among youngsters.
It is said that many younger Americans are less inclined to learn cooking skills, instead eating more ready-made foods and meals. This is also told of second-generation immigrants to America, whose parents did know how to cook. Maybe this happens in Japan too? Old and young generations begin to differ in their food seasonings, as well as how or what they eat.

A glass of milk was said to be served with curry rice in the old IJN. This might seem unusual to other countries eating curry, although some of theirs contain coconut milk. But, I guess that did not continue when it went on to be a popular civilian dish in today’s Japan? Unless milk served with curry remains a tradition with the Maritime Self-Defense Force.
hisashi wrote:Another seasoning from Western cuisine, more important for military life, was tomato ketchup.
Some basic sauces remain firm tastes within their countries, each of which may not know the others’ versions. Ketchup would be one of these. Mayonnaise might be another, where the Japanese kind is sweeter than the American one, but available in the US only as a specialty. On the other hand, wasabi sauces and mustards are well-known and popular here.
  • Although we have seen ketchup (also "catsup") known in early America, it was typically home-made up to mid 19th Cen and still made in rural kitchens in the early 20th. One author wrote that commercial bottled tomato ketchup became more popular in the US by the late 19th Cen, but only after it was sweetened with sugar.

    Shephard, Sue. Pickled, Potted, and Canned: the Story of Food Preserving (London: Headline Books Publishing, 2000), pages 94-95
Maybe Japanese ketchup followed the American model? Since it was used by the military, I would guess it accompanied the increase of meat served to their men.
.
hisashi wrote: ’Chicken rice’ (pics) is a chicken pilaf/fried rice seasoned with tomato.. Omu-rice (pics) was a variant of omelette, stuffed with rice (often chicken rice) and topped by ketchup. Both cuisine were at least served for navy officers. I am not sure sailors enjoyed it . . . cooking huge amount of any of the two at once looks difficult.

. . . Today instead of ketchup some cookers use demiglace sauce.

Today American MRE includes chicken w/ rice. It seems boiled, rather than fried.
I had imagined that freeze-dried nature of MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) worked less well for fried dishes, but there are some. Menus and probably technology have advanced since American MREs were first developed in the 1970s and issued in the 1980s. One current Singapore-based commercial MRE maker, mentioned earlier, has a wide range of dishes acceptable to Asian, Muslim, and Western customers (not only soldiers?)
hisashi wrote:A strange ketchup cuisine in Japan is a 'Napolitan Spaghetti'. It is a boiled pasta sauteed with tomato ketchup, meat and vegetables. Typically they use sliced sausage and onion. It has nothing to do with Napoli. This dish was easy to cook at once in primary school kitchens and became popular in school lunch after the war.
In her history of Modern Japanese Cuisine, Katarzyna Cwiertka gave a chapter to food as a part of rebuilding postwar Japan. Some dishes or ingredients on school lunch menus might not go together in other settings, where they would be strange.

From experience, Taki mentioned how whale meat was common in school lunches. In fact Cwiertka mentions whale meat simmered in ketchup, among other school lunches served in various parts of 1965 Japan (that one was in Oita Prefecture). She supposed that ex-military cooks and others from Imperial times had influenced the postwar school lunches {Modern Japanese Cuisine, pages 161-162).

-- Alan

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Peter H
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 23 Jun 2013 06:29

From ebay,seller dixie_auctions

"1937 Japanese Soldiers Break for Meal in Tientsin, China"
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 23 Jun 2013 06:35

From ebay,seller sell446

Ice blocks?Was some form of basic refrigeration available to some?
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 23 Jun 2013 06:41

From ebay,seller dimastyle
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 23 Jun 2013 06:53

Same seller

"China--- "mochi tsuki" rice cake fun time fun"
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 23 Jun 2013 17:33

Peter H wrote:From ebay,seller sell446

Ice blocks?Was some form of basic refrigeration available to some?
A typical install of industrial refrigerator system was lager beer brewery. Sapporo Beer Co. has its origin in government-owned lager brewery in 1876.

Even before Meiji Restoration, preserved ice (in underground space) was on sale in summer for Edo citizens. This type of business survived and in 1897 some ice dealer gathered to make ice by refrigerator. The leading figure among them, 和合英太郎 Wago Eitaro's company later became a part of Nichirei co. Until electric refrigerator became reasonable and popular in 1960s, it was common for a family to have a box with a space for ice on its top, and ask a local ice dealer to deliver a huge ice cube.

http://www.nichirei.co.jp/english/index.html

I am not sure to what extent Japanese military had small/many refrigerators. The first electric refrigerator for home appeared in 1927 as a test piece and on sale in 1933. A few supplier competed and at least Toshiba's type was a copy of General Electrics product.
Sewer King wrote: Maybe Japanese ketchup followed the American model? Since it was used by the military, I would guess it accompanied the increase of meat served to their men.
Yes. But differently from curry or niku-jaga, ketchup became popular first among citizens and officers requested them. One of pioneers, the founder of Kagome, asked a chef of a hotel to have a bottle of imported tomato sauce.

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Sewer King
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 23 Jun 2013 17:37

Thanks Peter for the excellent photos as always.
Peter H wrote:From ebay,seller dixie_auctions: "1937 Japanese Soldiers Break for Meal in Tientsin, China"
This scene is especially interesting for showing what looks like a packaged meal, about the size of a modern bento box. We have not seen this one before, or read any possible description. Cardboard lids have been taken off but unfortunately for us, they are upside down and we can't see what might have been printed on them, if anything.
  • Quality of the pic is good enough to enlarge for detail, even of the men's hobnailed boot soles:
    IJA close-up of canned food eaten with soldiers packaged meal Tientsin China 1937.JPG
    Unfortunately again, ithe labels of the canned food are just less than readable, though they look like front and back of the same cans. As today, weren't both Japanese and English common on certain product labels?
What might these soldiers be eating from the cans, accompanying the boxed meals? I have the impression of vegetables. The men's water canteens lie behind them.

===================================
Although these do look like ice blocks at first, I feel doubtful about it. Ice blocks of this size (say, 60x30x10cm) would be fairly heavy and not held up as casually as these look here. Also they would hurt the bare hands to hold, and can slip out of grasp. Normally they would be handled with tongs, hooks, gloves, sledges etc.

Could they be blocks of agar-agar, or kanten in Japanese? But I don't know if kanten comes in blocks as large as seen here. If they did, they would be light enough to hold up like that.

Our earlier passing guess about the military using ice for refrigeration:
Sewer KIng wrote:
hisashi wrote:. . . Before refrigerator appeared in Japan ground ice with syrup/sugar/anko was tasted with ices from Hokkaido, or even imported from the U.S. but luxurious until refrigerator and ice grinder machine became common in 1930s or so.
Ice was still a commodity in the rural US too, although in declining use up through this same time. The 19th century ice trade from the northern US had reached as far away as British India. Interesting that ice was still exported as far as Japan and this late. Maybe the demand for it must have been enough while the country was still being electrified?

We saw mention of ice blocks stored aboard IJA horse transport ships bound for the tropics. Mechanical ice plants were told for the IJN where they had been captured by the Americans, but there seems little mention of them for the IJA.

I imagine that at least some peacetime IJA garrisons had ice arrangements, however more the IJN stations had their own ice plants or not. As with white rice and more meat, would the military have had better than civilians in this too? Especially in Japan’s hot humid summers.
Ice-making was quite a job in its time because of its great weight, labor, and some organization for its transport, insulated housing, and distribution. Like the making of salt, this has passed from much popular memory. Whether ice was imported or not, it would seem just as hard a job before any wider use of electric refrigerators in Imperial Japan.

===================================
Peter H wrote:From ebay,seller dimastyle: {Soldiers eating in the field)
Though the photo is blurred, these mens' broad smiles show them in very good cheer. I think the wind is blowing well, as told by the flaps of their field caps, though it doesn't disturb their meal.

Maybe their cheer could be a good wind on a hot day. Later they might have seen the photo, showing that their caps look slightly comical blown by the wind.
For our many photos of mochitsuki so far, I could wish we knew more of the different years and places they were taken. Together, they would give a sort of continuity over time, like Christmas photos of American troops. But unlike those of Allies going on to victory, I think the New Years’ mochitsuki pics are mostly from before the Pacific War.

Since the men are celebrating far from home, I thought they would have to make their own mortars (usu) and mallets (kine). Those in the photo look roughly made and carved from wood.

The soldier with a fan looks almost like he is dancing, although a chance viewpoint of the photo.

I was never sure how the mochi are actually eaten because they look very large to me, much larger than the nearest Philippine equivalent palitaw that I know. Would each mochi be shared by many men?

The background of this photo in China has some incidental interest, for the hut walled with matting. Might this imply it was somewhere in south China?

-- Alan
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 25 Jun 2013 05:04

hisashi wrote:. . . Even before Meiji Restoration, preserved ice (in underground space) was on sale in summer for Edo citizens. This type of business survived and in 1897 some ice dealer gathered to make ice by refrigerator. The leading figure among them, 和合英太郎 Wago Eitaro's company later became a part of Nichirei Co. Until electric refrigerator became reasonable and popular in 1960s, it was common for a family to have a box with a space for ice on its top, and ask a local ice dealer to deliver a huge ice cube.
This sounds much like ice service in 19th-early 20th century America. For this, It sounds like Edo had better than other parts of Japan. Thomas Jefferson's Monticello has one of Virginia's best-known and designed underground icehouses of this kind. farmers might have a partly-underground springhouse, which had running springwater in it for cooling. Some would use shelves in the inside walls of their water wells as lesser “refrigerators.”

Although electric refrigerators were becoming common in the urban US by the late 1930s, it seems that Japan was actually not so far behind in this, but for the war. The Roosevelt administrations had a program for spreading electricity to rural America, where ice refrigerators were still in use. Did greater electricity for all Japan have to wait for the postwar reconstruction? And then, as it had in rural America, electric refrigeration became more common by the 1960s.

Among its modern equipment, I have an impression that the IJN had more electric refrigerators than most Japanese civilians, as well as the IJA. Hisashi mentioned that some warships had CO2 fire extinguisher equipment, which could also be used for making ramune soft drinks at sea. I noted from postwar report that Japan’s civilian firefighters did not have any CO2 extinguishers through the war, although common in US use. Also, we have seen some mentions of IJN ice plants captured and kept in use by the Americans during their island-hopping campaigns.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:Maybe Japanese ketchup followed the American model? Since it was used by the military, I would guess it accompanied the increase of meat served to their men.
hisashi wrote:Yes. But differently from curry or niku-jaga, ketchup became popular first among citizens and officers requested them. One of pioneers, the founder of Kagome, asked a chef of a hotel to have a bottle of imported tomato sauce.
Wasn't this said to be the origin of niku-jaga, where Admiral Togo Heihachiro asked for beef stew but his chef was unsure how to make it? This was part of the rivalry between the former IJN port cities over which of them originated the dishes.

Admiral Togo had known beef stew from his midshipman days in Britain. Sometimes it is generally said that IJN officers had a wider knowledge of the world than IJA officers. There would be a number of reasons for this. But as with Togo's example, could it be said that this difference appeared in IJN officers' messes? For example, Western-style breakfasts could be ordered in the IJN officers' wardroom, on board capital ships at least.

I forgot my own references for a moment. Long ago here I cited Cwiertka's Modern Japanese Cuisine about another early maker of Japanese ketchup, Kanie Ichitaro {1875-1971). He was a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War who found a good future in growing and canning vegetables for Western cuisine in Japan (yōshoku). A money award for bravery in combat funded his manufacture of domestic ketchup and sosu (a Worcestershire-type sauce in place of imported kind). By 1912, ketchup and sosu became Kanie’s chief products.
hisashi wrote:. . . They say Japaneses began to produce Worcestershire sauce ('usta-sauce' in Japan) in 1880s. Several venturers, including soy sauce vendors, tried this new business.
Thus, it seems likely that Kanie was one of them.

-- Alan

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 25 Jun 2013 05:47

Another one of those sugar cane munching pics...Burma 1942
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