Food rations in the Japanese forces

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Sewer King
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 04 Jun 2014 05:57

Sewer King wrote:. . . Relatively few photos taken by soldiers themselves, and many are not widely published, or available outside Japan?
hisashi wrote:Japaneses, including officers, were poor in European standard, so private photo was scarce from the outset. Unlike German PK, newspaper reporters took most of Japanese wartime pics. They know the copyright of them had expired, so they seldom publish them. They offer some of them only for private paper publication from their computer database, because the database is protected by copyright and by frequent maintenance it has endless copyright life. I once asked how much should I pay for a pic in my web site and they offered more than 30,000 JPY per a pic annually.
Much thanks Hisashi for this new explanation. Although I first learned in this Forum that Japanese copyright was strict, it was your various examples like this which taught me better.

Some Japanese reporters themselves seem evident in a few photos we have seen in other threads, such as here at Beidaying Barracks in China. Is it safe to assume any man with a camera (in uniform or not) was a news reporter, as in this earlier photo of soldiers fishing? Then, it was they who took most of the pics we’ve seen of military cooking and messing. Apart from the Japanese love of good food, it seems natural for them to look for scenes of busy cooks and troops happily eating their meal. There seem to be more of genuine pics then posed ones, even if both show mostly ideal situations.

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Sewer King wrote:. . . Some of those [kitchen pics with watchful NCOs like this one] may have been posed, but the Imperial Japanese gun-so is often portrayed as driving his men with fist, boot, or wooden staff.
hisashi wrote:Standardly it was not correct. Typically it was senior sailors/soldiers who physically abused juniors. Gun-so scolded the juniors and later the seniors 'educated' juniors by their fist. NCOs using their own fist were said "You must learn to delegate jobs . . ."
A few latter-day Japanese movies may have furthered this picture of the harsh Japanese NCO (i.e.,Ōshima Nagisa’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)). Although we know that even good movies are still only movies, I suppose this stereotype is commonly thought in Japan too.
  • Until he died in 2007, I worked sometimes with a Korean construction chief named Choi who had fought in Vietnam with the ROK Marine Corps. He told me some of what sounds the same delegation of punishment there. Corporals might hit the lower ranks, who expected it so, for mistakes. Is it fair to say that today’s Korean military discipline started from that of the IJA?

    My late mother was a teenager in occupied Philippines (Rizal Province). She was in scared awe to see IJA soldiers ordinarily struck hard blows to the face, with the fist as she emphasized it to me.

    Another thread mentioned a gunner scrubbing the deck of battleship Yamato. He knew that any appearance of slowing work could get him a boot in the ribs from the petty officer. But he feared a worse punishment -– being taken off of the night’s bathing roster.
We have noted how many of our kitchen or galley pics show a watchful NCO or corporal in them. But surely there was seldom reason to hit anyone there? That would not produce the best cooking.
  • In the old US Army, it was told not to use kitchen duty as punishment, since the result will show up in the food and no one would do a good job thereafter. Instead, it was recommended to give cooking some pride as a matter of skill.
Because good food was a privilege for Japanese military men, I like to imagine that enough IJA/ IJN cooks had some of this pride already -- and that discipline was like that of any average Japanese work kitchen today.

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Sewer King wrote:. . . My limited understanding of saké drinking was that filling to top of wooden square masu (originally for rice measuring) was originally to show fair, exact measure of the drink you paid for. Perhaps this was the origin of pouring coffee to above top?
hisashi wrote:Aha, maybe. Until various package became available, sake, miso, rice were all sold by measure. So shops could blend various sake (etc.), or even water, in exchange for the risk to their reputation.
Watering the alcohol drink is an ancient practice, of course. Everyone knows that sellers would do it to raise profit. But since I myself drink only little, I never fully understood why drinkers commonly accepted it. My only guess is that many ordinary taverns did the same thing, so buyers had no choice and sellers’ reputation had little risk. Richer taverns with richer drinkers might not dilute their drinks and have better reputations (but higher prices). If so in old Europe and America, maybe so in old Japan too?

I imagine the measuring of rationed foods as a serious matter for Japanese civilians at home in WW2. As in the other countries at war, I guess that there were aid associations or agencies that advised civilians how to cope with shortage and difficulties.
  • As Hisashi hinted, routine food purchases by civilians needed arrangements we don’t think of today with our modern materials and packaging. Civilians on other countries’ homefronts brought their own containers for grocers to fill, as in this idealized pic of a well-stocked German grocer dispensing sauerkraut for a shopper.
When canned foods were reserved entirely for the IJA / IJN from about 1942 onward (told in post 177), the ceramic food jars shown below were used by homefront civilians in place of cans.
  • From Cwiertka’s Modern Japanese Cuisine, pages 128-129:
IJA_IJN civilian food container.jpg
. . . [without canned foods,] the home front had to make do with the ceramic substitutes patented by the Great Japan Air Defense Provisions Co. They used the same principle of food conservation in metal cans -– sterilization by heat in a hermetically sealed container –- and could be safely stored in case of emergency.

author’s source: Shin shūzōhin ten, an exhibition at Edo Tokyo Museum, 16 Aug-21 Sep 2002
These jars would be glazed inside, and apparently used like the various glass jars for home canning around the world. However, the one in the picture does not show how it was closed or sealed, since it has no fastener or screw thread. Probably there were other types or sizes of these jars? Would they be brought back to distributors for refill with rationed foodstuffs?

The date from the caption suggests the jars’ usefulness long after the war, during Japan’s hard times of postwar shortage. What is printed on this one?

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If serving sake in masu was to avoid suspicion of cheated drinks, something similar could be seen in the US Navy’s own whiskey issue up to 1862. Sailors would line up orderly before one of their own who carefully poured the exact measure of liquor into a cup for each man to drink, one after the other. A petty officer wrote down each man’s serving for record.

On IJN ships, was bottled beer for the crew typically stored in the shubo? Even unchilled, one bottle once for each crewman would take a lot of space. One of our earliest tellings (post 10) had it that bottled beer was regular issue, but this seems unsustainable. Hisashi told that alcohol issue was for pre-battle morale toast, and we have seen one pic of a special-occasion spread on a ship’s deck with beer bottles at settings.

I imagined a few cases where a few sailors might not be drinkers, and so they didn’t take a bottle. In the old US Army (early 19th century), a soldier who did not drink his alcohol issue was paid it in cash instead. But there it was argued whether or not US soldiers and sailors should be issued any alcohol at all, an argument which would not even arise in European or Imperial Japanese forces.

Presumably the war didn’t change alcohol ration for the IJN at least? Earlier (in post 412), it was mentioned that saké brewing declined during the Pacific war, as would be expected. I suppose that most brewing reduced only to fill military, industrial, and medical needs.

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Sewer King wrote:. . . If the IJN admirals had any such favorite restaurants, it would be interesting if any survived the war, or carried on their names though the Navy itself is gone . . .
hisashi wrote:http://hitosara.com/0004002534/special.html
Yamamoto Isoroku was an executive officer of Kasumigaura naval air group, a training wing, 1924-1925. Then he personally became close to the master's family of a restaurant Kagetsuro. It is still there and serving. Charles Lindbergh had visited Kagetsuro when he visited Kasumigaura in 1931. (the 2nd pic from bottom)

Restaurant 'Komatsu' in Yokosuka is still calling themselves as 'Kaigun Ryotei Komatsu'.

Hotel/restaurant Banshoro in Sasebo was also famous among navy men.
Hisashi, thank you for this short ‘tour’. So it is not unusual as I first thought, for some military-associated places to continue serving today. I thought that very few might have survived the bombing. And moreover, I imagined that if any restaurant was associated with the IJN, it was brighter in memory than if it had been the IJA.

During wartime shortages and rationing, the admiralty’s favorite restaurants might have found it difficult to keep up their good service. Unless, possibly, their naval popularity got them good supply connection? After the war I would guess the Navy association was not so much focused until more recent years, as was said earlier about the recent ‘Navy curry’ rivalry between former IJN port cities (in post 351). Probably only few customers there would be interested in a restaurant’s old naval history today?

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Sewer King wrote:. . . Unlike those of WW2, are there fewer memoirs and accounts about WW1 maybe even in Japanese?
hisashi wrote:There are, not as many as for WWII, basically because so few Japanese soldiers engaged in WWI relative to WWII. But very few of military buff are historian; mostly mechanic fan. They do not buy them so nobody publish old memoirs.
Thanks again Hisashi. I remember some of your past explanation about military history publication in today’s Japan. Some of this same difference of interest can be found here in the US of course. But I always felt that enough of mechanic fans will “graduate” their interest to other mil-history areas like army doctrine, politics, logistics, biography, etc. Mechanical fandom is introductory for many.novices, especially when they are young.

Not only the fewer Japanese participants in WW1, but I thought it was also the remoteness of that war itself. The WW1 Mediterranean was among the farthest-away places Japanese forces have served. In the US this is similar to lesser common interest in the far-away Napoleonic Wars, something of a specialty interest. Especially, when compared to high interest in the American Civil War. Some buffs half-joke that the Civil War is still being fought here today!

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hisashi wrote:. . . Japanese 'Hayashi Rice', hashed meats with brown sauce on rice, is also a cuisine appeared in Japanese civilian restaurants and more or less served in barracks . . .
Sewer King wrote:My daughter found the following [recipe] for me, in a traveler’s guidebook, to go with Hisashi’s references . . . It looks as good a soldier’s dish as others we have seen. From this recipe we can also see that it should be easy to make in large amounts, like curry rice.

But, who was Hayashi?
I found one possible explanation of the dish’s name:
. . . there are some dishes which we foreigners think of as being completely Japanese since they occur nowhere else [but in Japan], for example chicken rice, curry rice, and Hayashi rice. Yet all are adaptations which have [undergone] a great change in Japan. Chicken rice is a ketchup-flavored cross between pilaf and fried rice; kare raisu (curry rice) was obviously once Indian; Hayashi rice was, despite its native name, perhaps once North American –- Hayashi is how the Japanese originally understood “hashed.”

White, Merry I. and Barnet, Sylvan. Comparing Cultures: Reading on Contemporary Japan for American Writers. (Bedford Books, St. Martin’s Press, 1995), page 68
If so, better to say it was just a Japanized pronouncing of the word “hashed” (or even French haché, from which ‘hash’ came as English term). And not after someone named Hayashi, as I first imagined.

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Continued from earlier, about the change of foodways in a changing Japan:
hisashi wrote:. . . Especially, sushi in modern style has very short history, after refrigerator became common in reasonable restaurants. Americans added avocado (California) roll to its tradition, but many others have been added by us ourselves.
In much of her culinary history Japan imported other countries’ cookery, rather than exported her own. Only in the past four decades did some of Japanese cuisine become well-known abroad. Naturally in both cases, each culture modified the other one’s dishes.

I remember a few news items from 2006, saying that there was an effort in Japan to set standards for sushi. My impression was that because it became so widespread in the world, and its styles gone ”out of control” -– maybe so in Japan too? And thus, some purists in its home country felt that this was not proper sushi, which needed to be better defined.
  • Long ago in this thread’s starting post 1 I wondered about sea cucumber (namako), because it was mentioned among examples of IJA ration foodstuffs (only once, not typical). Long ago, Hisashi explained its normal modern eating (and as possible in the IJA too, although not eaten by many Japanese), in post 8.

    Only recently I tasted sea cucumber for the first time, at a restaurant in New York. It was in sushi but I did not like it, finding it was just as told above. Surely, sea cucumber was not used in sushi before? If not, it would be of one of those more recent designs of sushi that Hisashi mentioned.
Since electric refrigeration was not yet common in prewar Japan (see posts 572 and 612), I imagined that also mean fewer chefs than nowadays (and maybe harder to become one?). And that sushi had to be arranged well in advance? Or, it would be available only within some distance close to the seafood markets, needing ice.
  • In 1983 the air force sent me to the former Strategic Air Command (SAC) HQ base in Omaha, Nebraska. There in the heart of US beef country, I had a fine steak dinner with all courses that cost as little as $7 at the SAC dining hall. On the other hand a good seafood dinner in Omaha, so far from the coasts, could cost $18 and up (with few places serving them). Even allowing for cultural difference of beef vs. seafood there, modern refrigerated distribution was still expensive. To me, it seemed that seafood dinner in Nebraska was more for special occasion.
Because of limitations and expenses like these, would sushi have been more for special occasions in those days too? Even, maybe, for higher officers as much as for richer civilians? Different from the settings for it today. Sushi is now so widely-known abroad, but its original history is not. So foreigners might mistakenly think it was always as they see it today, and just as common.
  • There seems at least one military influence upon sushi –- the gūnkanmaki (軍艦巻, “warship roll"). It was said to have been invented at a restaurant in 1941, which suggests that it celebrated early Pacific victories. Or, maybe it celebrated the Navy in general? In any case, the name continues today simply for the shape. Apparently sushi was already opened to some “new designs” by that time?
One small aside about sushi from another thread -– but as imagery, rather than food. One of our published mil-history author members mentioned IJA troops transported by battleship:
john whitman wrote:. . . men of the 36th Infantry squeezed themselves so tightly into temporary shelves built into battleship Kongo’s bottom, that the soldiers compared themselves to the stuffing in a sushi roll.
This says how crowded it was indeed –- not including the other unpleasant conditions down in the bottom of that 30-year-old battleship. Soldiers comparing their shipboard bunking to sushi roll would be widely understood, even if they themselves seldom enjoyed sushi as food. I suppose their officers at least had some better accommodations.

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In many ways it seems that the IJA and IJN spread the new dishes and foodways, more than they actually created them. Author Katarzyna Cwiertka broadly made this point in her book, much quoted earlier. But I have not seen it told that the Imperial military was in the best position to do this -– the Navy especially. This is not so self-evident as it first sounds, because of:
  • The military’s command of technology. Wasn’t the military the largest group in Imperial Japan to need refrigeration, food processing, shipping and railroad links, research, etc?

    An army and navy also have steady demand, funding, and continuity. They must feed large numbers of their men regularly in many far places, every day of the year.
We take such work for granted in today’s corporate and consumer society. But in prewar Japan only the military seemed most able to have all those things that make it possible.

-- Alan
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hisashi
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 05 Jun 2014 14:54

These jars would be glazed inside, and apparently used like the various glass jars for home canning around the world. However, the one in the picture does not show how it was closed or sealed, since it has no fastener or screw thread. Probably there were other types or sizes of these jars? Would they be brought back to distributors for refill with rationed foodstuffs?
http://www.umakato.jp/archive/coll/02_02.html

It seemed that a gum-like packing seat was inserted between the bonnet and the jar. Users were instructed to heat the jar with hot water and then cool it. Shrinking air seal the packing. Pushing the center hole by a nail or something the air pours in and they could open it.
On IJN ships, was bottled beer for the crew typically stored in the shubo?
Yes, but only for officers... unless stolen. JNSDF stopped to serve any alcohol for anybody in sail.
So it is not unusual as I first thought, for some military-associated places to continue serving today.
Even US navy staffs in Yokosuka are now customers of 'Kaigun Ryotei Komatsu'.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komatsu_(J ... estaurant)

http://www.rinsuitei.jp/rooms/index.html

Rinsuitei restaurant in Matsue city was once been comandeered as IJA officer club. Their account on the page bitterly told IJA officers dealt the host family harshly.
Surely, sea cucumber was not used in sushi before? If not, it would be of one of those more recent designs of sushi that Hisashi mentioned.
Sea cucumber has never been used for Sushi; it must be extra-fresh to enjoy. Recently a Chinese lady had a trouble in a famous Sushi restaurant in Japan. She declared she could not eat ANY raw fish and demanded to serve tempura for her. Refused, she angrily murmured in the internet she was abused while Japanese Sushi restaurants were ready to serve for President Obama. Many Chinese people pointed out to her what was sushi and what was not. The restaurant accepted her apology afterwards and stated it's not her fault that so various Japanese, or seemingly Japanese dishes are served in foreign 'Sushi Bar'.

gūnkanmaki was invented in 1941, but in a sushi restaurant on a customer's request. Now it is liked by sushi chain stores because it is faster to make, and relatively untrained staff can make it.

http://image.itmedia.co.jp/l/im/nl/arti ... kan_01.jpg
An artist school student's graduate piece.
The military’s command of technology. Wasn’t the military the largest group in Imperial Japan to need refrigeration, food processing, shipping and railroad links, research, etc?
Not always. Huge refrigarator was initially for industrial use. National experimental factory with refrigarator was sold out to civilian company, Sapporo Beer Co. today. On the contrary, canned meet was initially for the military. And not only Nikujaga, the consumption of potato, initially limited in the northern Japan, prevailed via military meal.

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 08 Jun 2014 13:50

Recently Morinaga Co. contracted sponsorship agreements with MLB Red Sox, Twins, Cubs and NBA Knicks on their toffee 'hi-chew'. It is said that Tazawa Junichi, a pitcher in Redsocks who introduced hi-chew to his mates. Many major leagers tried it and it became a favorite of them. Later Tazawa asked Morinaga for sponsorship and Morinaga noticed what was going on. Other Japanese major leagers seem frequently asked to share their hi-chew.

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/05/the-yan ... -addiction

https://www.hi-chew.com/

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

Japanese chewy toffee is generally called as 'kyarameru' = caramel and it was a favorite western-origin candy in Japan. We call caramel syrup as 'karameru'.

Following canned version (1908), in 1914 Morinaga began to sell their milk kyarameru in reasonable paper box.
http://www.morinaga.co.jp/museum/histor ... shi_3.html

In 1931 IJA introduced high-calory ration bar 熱量食 netsuryo-shoku for soldiers in hard situation or mobile (e.g.cavalry) troops. In 1938 it was decided that netsuryo-shoku should be succeeded by Japanese kyarameru, called by IJA as 軍粮精 gunrosei, though the production and consumtion of netsuryo-shoku did not stop. They avoided 'kyarameru' as 'hostile language'; but gunrosei sounds something mystical...

Many candy makers still provide 'kyarameru' of countless kind, and hi-chew seems successful in overseas market.

A collection of prewar-wartime paper box of 'kyaramel' and other sweets.
http://ameblo.jp/jinjingtr/entry-11601796427.html
Morinaga's wartime promotion to send their products to soldiers/sailors via 'Imonbukuro(cheering bags)'
http://www.morinaga.co.jp/museum/galler ... ery_5.html
Reference to Imonbukuro in previous discussion
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... o#p1691538

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 14 Aug 2014 05:55

Sewer King wrote:. . . These jars [for civilians’ substitute of food cans] would be glazed inside, and apparently used like the various glass jars for preserved food around the world. However, the one in the picture does not show how it was closed or sealed, since it has no fastener or screw thread . . . What is printed on this one?
hisashi wrote:It seemed that a gum-like packing seat was inserted between the bonnet and the jar. Users were instructed to heat the jar with hot water and then cool it. Shrinking air seal the packing. Pushing the center hole by a nail or something the air pours in and they could open it.
Thank you Hisashi, then that would be the printed instructions on the lid, with arrows pointing to the hole. The link also gave the jar’s dimensions.

Cwiertka’s mention gives the impression that the jars were for distribution of ready foodstuffs formerly sold in cans. Were there certain basic foods that civilians commonly kept in them? They needed hot water to seal them. But in those days, was boiling water at home a small task in itself for many people living in Japanese cities (that is, no running hot water)?

“Putting up” food in jars, as this practice is often called in English, was a seasonal job in rural kitchens. Pickled vegetables (tsukemono) could be made at home, but was that as common in urban Japanese kitchens as rural?

Use of these jars sounds similar to the earliest canning by Nicolas Appert in France (1810s). The French Army wanted preserved food for its troops, and Appert’s process of hot-water-heating food in glass jars won the competition for it. Metal food cans were pioneered by the British soon afterward, and spread to America by the mid-1800s. By the 1870s canned foods became cheap and common enough for ordinary people in the West.

As we saw in post 177, canned food first began to be made in Japan in the 1870s, Sometimes the hardship and shortages of a war economy forces people to go back to old ways. Probably ceramic jars were used for preserved foods in pre-Meiji Japan, like glass in the West?

The Greater Japan Air Defense Provisions Co sounds like a large supplier –- maybe nationwide, or at least in the cities? I can’t think of any similar company connected to air-raid protection in Germany, the US, or Britain. Imperial Japan’s civil defense might be a topic all in itself, little explored in English.

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Sewer King wrote:On IJN ships, was bottled beer for the crew typically stored in the shubo?
hisashi wrote:Yes, but only for officers . . . unless stolen. JMSDF stopped to serve any alcohol for anybody in sail.
From ancient times, theft aboard ship has been highly punishable. Stealing from officers’ stores would seem more so. Might there be leftover officers’ beer that could be divided for the crewmen by the petty officers, like leftover ramune lemonade? (see post 564)

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Sewer King wrote:. . . Probably only few customers [in the IJN’s favored restaurants] would be interested in their old naval history today?
hisashi wrote:Even US navy staffs in Yokosuka are now customers of 'Kaigun Ryotei Komatsu'.
If any USN officers there are history-minded, it seems they could be among the customers who might be interested.
hisashi wrote:. . . Rinsuitei restaurant in Matsue city had once been commandeered as IJA officer club. Their account on the page bitterly told IJA officers dealt the host family harshly.
This sounds especially unfortunate, because the family was captive in their own restaurant after it was taken over.

In other threads we have mentioned some social differences apparent between IJA and IJN officers. Maybe this one is an extreme case. As in the other combatant countries there were always many more Army men than Navy, so that such frictions might be more likely with them.

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Sewer King wrote:Surely, sea cucumber was not used in sushi before. . . ?
hisashi wrote:Sea cucumber has never been used for Sushi; it must be extra-fresh to enjoy . . . so various Japanese, or seemingly Japanese dishes are served in foreign 'Sushi Bar'.
I thought it was unlikely, for it did not appear at that restaurant before or since. Reportedly, sea cucumber is now being dried (for reconstitution with water?)
  • There may be similar seafood examples elsewhere. The British smoked kipper (smoked split herring) in traditional style is reportedly harder to find in the UK today. Once very common there, it is being displaced by modern British eating tastes. There is a canned, artificial-smoked kipper, but that is as far from the original as canned corned beef is from fresh –- or dried sea cucumber from fresh.
Indeed, most Japanese-type restaurants in the US are Korean-operated, and though they try their best for what they do, they might meet only ordinary rating in Japan itself. This cannot be helped and is due to many things besides lack of the extra-fresh ingredients. On the other hand, it is the nearest many foreigners might get to a beginner taste of Japanese cuisine, if unable to visit Japan directly.

Even if they know some basics of Japanese food, it might be difficult to understand regional preferences within its native land. I had first thought that sea cucumber was one of those (from our first mention of it as an uncommon IJA food, posts 8 and earlier).

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hisashi wrote:gūnkanmaki was invented in 1941, but in a sushi restaurant on a customer's request.
If an ordinary customer of the time, it still seems a homage to the Navy at the height of its victories.
hisashi wrote:An artist school student's graduate piece.
A masterful job of a gūnkanmaki flotilla.

Do the captions of each one give specs of the warship they were modeled on? Apart from Japanese tradition of fine modelmaking, I would guess that the ships’ technical info was fully part of the presentation. There look like numerical figures too.

My guesses for these:
What looks like a presentation book has a title referring to the IJN.

The book is opened to a another large gun warship –- this one possibly modeled on battleship Yamato? I would guess still other ship types as gūnkanmaki were in this artist’s portfolio.

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Sewer King wrote:. . . The military’s command of technology. Wasn’t the military the largest group in Imperial Japan to need refrigeration, food processing, shipping and railroad links, research, etc?
hisashi wrote:Not always. Huge refrigerator was initially for industrial use. National experimental factory with refrigerator was sold out to civilian company, Sapporo Beer Co. today. On the contrary, canned meat was initially for the military. And not only Nikujaga, the consumption of potato, initially limited in the northern Japan, prevailed via military meal.
This may have some parallel to refrigerated shipping in Japan. Some sources say that was expanded to support Japanese whaling operations in the 1930s (see post 469). Were the Antarctic whalers the farthest-traveling of all Japanese fishery at that time? Japan was the only country where enough people ate whale meat in some quantity, though IJA soldiers were made to eat it as Taki explained in post 290.

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hisashi wrote:Recently Morinaga Co. contracted sponsorship agreements with [US Major League Baseball teams] Red Sox, Twins, Cubs, and [National Basketball Association team] Knicks on their toffee 'hi-chew'. It is said that Tazawa Junichi, a pitcher in Redsocks who introduced hi-chew to his mates. Many major leaguers tried it and it became a favorite of them. Later Tazawa asked Morinaga for sponsorship and Morinaga noticed what was going on. Other Japanese major leaguers seem frequently asked to share their hi-chew . . .

Many candy makers still provide 'kyarameru' of countless kind, and hi-chew seems successful in overseas market.
It’s true that Hi-Chew has become popular in the US market. I can walk to my local stores and likely find it there. Also commonly found in larger supermarkets (both Asian and not). Although unsure exactly when it became popular here, I thought that it started from today’s US youth interest in J-Pop in recent decades. But, Japanese baseball players began to join US teams in the time.
  • American baseball players often chewed tobacco, back to the game’s early 19th Century days. That led to spitting its brown juice, seen by visiting foreigners as a notorious habit in its time (many Americans agreed, too). Because of this I did not imagine Japanese ballplayers had ever followed tobacco chewing. Does caramel chewing date back that far for them instead?
I could not find the reference, but didn’t the famous IJN air ace Sakai Saburo mention that caramel candies were a useful trade item with southwest Pacific islanders?
hisashi wrote: In 1931 IJA introduced high-calory ration bar 熱量食 netsuryo-shoku for soldiers in hard situation or mobile (e.g.cavalry) troops. In 1938 it was decided that netsuryo-shoku should be succeeded by Japanese kyarameru, called by IJA as 軍粮精 gunrosei, though the production and consumption of netsuryo-shoku did not stop. They avoided 'kyarameru' as 'hostile language'; but gunrosei sounds something mystical . . .
It seems that IJA and US Army were on parallel tracks for concentrated ration bars.
  • In 1932, the US Cavalry School first experimented with bars combining chocolate and peanut butter. These were not successful, but the Quartermaster Corps Subsistence School took up research in the mid-1930s, leading to the D Ration bar of WW2.

    Some histories trace the idea back to WW1 American troops' emergency rations of dry wheat-meat cakes and chocolate pieces packed in flat, pocket-size cans. Their manufacture ended with the war, although some were used as inflight snacks by US Border Patrol pilots in the 1920s. Ironically, this ration had itself been inspired by the dried “combat ration” of mounted Mexican raiders in the same borderlands. Typically this was jerked meat with pinole, a corn meal often pre-mixed with dried beans and peppers to boil in water for porridge.
Earlier, Taki said that the IJA’s combat meals (much advanced over the US reserve ration and later C Ration) saw first use in Manchuria (see posts 89 and 91). Presumably the netsuryo-shoku ration bar did too? The IJA started these new rations from its observations on WW1’s Western Front, but could not draw on direct experience of feeding troops there. In Manchuria it could, as later on in central China.
  • Today’s US field troops have a condensed high-energy bar called “Soldier Fuel.” Originally named the “HooAh! Bar,” after the US Army’s cheering shout, and also labeled the “OohRah! Bar” for the Marine Corps and its own cheer. “Soldier Fuel” sounds more hi-tech (and maybe better for wider commercial sales), while “HooAh!” and “OohRah!” appealed mostly to esprit-de-corps.
In ration names, that’s the closest American troops get to the sound of gunrosei for the IJA.
  • Poetry seems to have enough places in Japanese military history. Some great samurai were known for it, as were some leading IJA officers. Many IJN warships had poetic names. Mysticism is one of the bases of poetry, and it could have some subtle appeal to an ordinary Japanese serviceman even though he is not a poet himself.
Since gunrosei sounds mystical, it seems similar to what Hisashi told about rock sugar candy given to IJA troops –- an allusion to icy winter battlefields of the past (see post 8).
Like various of our mealtime and kitchen pics, I would guess that some of the military-theme boxes date from the China war rather than the Pacific war. All together, they also make an interesting graphic design study.

I remember Meiji-brand chocolates as available in the Philippines in the late 1960s. From that company’s chronology we see its connection to condensed milk in Japan as explained earlier (see post 566), presumably for both civilian and military users.
hisashi wrote:Morinaga's wartime promotion to send their products to soldiers/sailors via 'Imonbukuro (cheering bags)'
Is the candy can in the middle pic painted in Manchukuo flag colors?

Presumably the IJA’s high-calorie bar was very different from the milk fudge bar for IJN aviators (mentioned in post 631)? I would suppose also, that kyarameru was easier to supply from more candymakers, especially if maybe netsuryo-shoku came from one maker only (?)

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 18 Aug 2014 10:26

They needed hot water to seal them. But in those days, was boiling water at home a small task in itself for many people living in Japanese cities (that is, no running hot water)?
Absolutely yes. Japanese kitchen had something, large or small, to cook rice. So in every Japanese home they could boil water. The space-minimizing tool was shichirin, improved in 1920s by the invention of rentan (solidified coal powder). Tadon (solidified wood coal powder) had been available from Edo era and its weak bot long-lasting firepower was preferred for keeping fire all day and/or cooking.

Kamado (Japanese hearth)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearth
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irori
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shichirin
Korean version of Rentan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeontan
“Putting up” food in jars, as this practice is often called in English, was a seasonal job in rural kitchens. Pickled vegetables (tsukemono) could be made at home, but was that as common in urban Japanese kitchens as rural?
Prewar Japan was a hierarchical society. Most Japaneses were not rich, so they did everything to minimize their money expense.
Probably ceramic jars were used for preserved foods in pre-Meiji Japan, like glass in the West?
Japaneses began to make ceramic in 7th century. I am not sure when potteries in ordinary households were replaced by ceramics, but ceramics were quite common.

The Greater Japan Air Defense Provisions Co sounds like a large supplier –- maybe nationwide, or at least in the cities?
I found a recall of a worker in this company. It seemed a company of military-use canned foods and it procured ceramic jars for itself and also for sale. It established its branch in Arita city, a famous region for ceramic production, and one of the leading figure in Arita ceramic industry took on the management of the branch. I assume this company was rather local.
http://www.global-peace.go.jp/taikenki/detail_34_0.html
http://www47.tok2.com/home/yakimono/honoo/12-05.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imari_porcelain
From ancient times, theft aboard ship has been highly punishable. Stealing from officers’ stores would seem more so. Might there be leftover officers’ beer that could be divided for the crewmen by the petty officers, like leftover ramune lemonade?
It is difficult to tell about it generally, but I have read a recall of detroyer petty officer that stealing of liquer was common and petty officers consumed it in the secret party of mates. Destroyer crews and submariners had very informal culture, but submariners lacked any space to hide...
I thought it was unlikely, for it did not appear at that restaurant before or since. Reportedly, sea cucumber is now being dried (for reconstitution with water?)
Dried sea cucumber has been an export item to China. Not popular in Japan.
http://www.ohtaya.com/t000/t019.htm

The book is opened to a another large gun warship –- this one possibly modeled on battleship Yamato? I would guess still other ship types as gūnkanmaki were in this artist’s portfolio.
Yes. BB Yamato, BB Kongo, CVL Hosho and DD Yukikaze.
Because of this I did not imagine Japanese ballplayers had ever followed tobacco chewing. Does caramel chewing date back that far for them instead?
I believe tobacco chewing has never been popular in Japan, though several ballplayers from the major league brought their cutom in. Firebreak Chewing-gum was introduced into Japanese market in 2003 but now is seems unavailable.
I could not find the reference, but didn’t the famous IJN air ace Sakai Saburo mention that caramel candies were a useful trade item with southwest Pacific islanders?
Ah, yes. a veteran's recall (served in Manchuria) mentioned to the exchange. On his account, Yokan and caramel candy were occasionary rationed in tern as sweets. Those who want more liquers spared their sweets. Most tobacco was consumed before any exchange.
http://hisappi.com/heisiro/war01/text-s190928.html

Poetry seems to have enough places in Japanese military history. Some great samurai were known for it, as were some leading IJA officers. Many IJN warships had poetic names. Mysticism is one of the bases of poetry, and it could have some subtle appeal to an ordinary Japanese serviceman even though he is not a poet himself.
It is a common mentarism that giving cheerful name makes personnels positive to their mission. A friend of mine once said all JSDF administrative servicein-arm should be renamed as 'budget jaeger' to improve their moral.
Is the candy can in the middle pic painted in Manchukuo flag colors?
Aha, must be. I did not notice it.

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 15 Sep 2014 05:04

Many thanks as always, Hisashi
Sewer King wrote:. . .[The ceramic food jar substitutes for cans] needed hot water to seal them. But in those days, was boiling water at home a small task in itself for many people living in Japanese cities (that is, no running hot water)?
hisashi wrote:Absolutely yes. Japanese kitchen had something, large or small, to cook rice. So in every Japanese home they could boil water. The space-minimizing tool was shichirin, improved in 1920s by the invention of rentan (solidified coal powder). Tadon (solidified wood coal powder) had been available from Edo era and its weak but long-lasting firepower was preferred for keeping fire all day and/or cooking. . .
Korean version of Rentan
This latter link mentions carbon monoxide danger of its home use, including for heating rooms. Surely this was equal danger in Japanese homes of those days?

In Shōwa era, Rentan seems to have spread to China, Manchuria, and Korea due to Japanese use, and it was widely manufactured in those areas.

Is rentan in briquette shape the same as mametan?
  • I would guess that this was common fuel of the IJA rolling field kitchens (yasen suijisha, discussed earlier (see posts 517 and 518)? Even maybe it was the preferred fuel, since pure coal was needed for other uses. Firewood was found in the field, but would not burn as well as charcoal, and was sometimes scarce. It could also leave tar inside the rolling kitchen’s firebox.

    Probably rentan was (or is) generally cheaper than tadon? On the other hand, would slow-burning tadon be just as needed for army kitchens as in civilian ones?
If irori is below floor level, what is this kind of stove cartooned in IJA garrison use, above floor?

In post 490 Taki pointed out that a shichirin, used by soldiers in this pic we saw, was not typical because it was heavy and bulky to carry. At least, it would be so for line infantry marching on foot. But using one suggests slightly finer grilled dishes beyond what was commonly cooked in the yasen suijisha, even if a shichirin can only serve a small sub-unit.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:“Putting up” food in jars [for preservation], as this practice is often called in English, was a seasonal job in rural kitchens. Pickled vegetables (tsukemono) could be made at home, but was that as common in urban Japanese kitchens as rural?
hisashi wrote:Prewar Japan was a hierarchical society. Most Japaneses were not rich, so they did everything to minimize their money expense.
I have seen a few references to old rural Japanese practices brought to modern city life, and remaining as tradition. Earlier, Hisashi mentioned one of these in the use of hagama (broad-edged cooking kettles, see post 634) on stove top. I thought that making tsukemono at home was one of these practices. But if done for economy, then it’s no different whether rural or urban.

At a peacetime army kitchen in mainland Japan, I imagine garrison cooks making tsukemono in large amounts, parallel to civilians at home.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:. . . From ancient times, theft aboard ship has been highly punishable. Stealing [alcohol drink] from officers’ stores would seem more so . . .
hisashi wrote:It is difficult to tell about it generally, but I have read a recall of destroyer petty officer that stealing of liquor was common and petty officers consumed it in the secret party of mates. Destroyer crews and submariners had very informal culture, but submariners lacked any space to hide . . .
In any army or navy this kind of talent among NCOs can be useful in wartime, but may become mischief in peacetime. At least, it seems as likely in the Japanese military as in any other. Hisashi touched some of this in another thread ”A Bowl of Rice in the IJA”.

I was unable to find mention of alcohol policy for sub crews, in a cursory look at the common translated books about IJN sub life. Earlier we mentioned it was mostly forbidden aboard German and US subs. If the IJN surface crews could have some alcohol, what was the policy for sub crews?

Earlier we mentioned suspected moonshining aboard battleship Mutsu, said to be possible cause of her loss to internal explosion in 1943.

===================================
Sewer King wrote:. . . The [gūnkanmaki presentation] book is opened to another large gun warship –- this one possibly modeled on battleship Yamato? I would guess still other ship types as gūnkanmaki were in this artist’s portfolio.
hisashi wrote:Yes. BB Yamato, BB Kongo, CVL Hosho and DD Yukikaze.
I scored three of the four, but expected to get the Kongo incorrect rather than Yukikaze. Interesting choice of that DD for a model, since she was the longest-lived combat warship of the IJN due to her postwar China navy service. Maybe this is even in the presentation page.

Since these models made of food cannot endure, the photography and the book surely had as much detail work as their presentation. For such an art work, who might be honored to consume these gūnkanmaki?

====================================
Sewer King wrote:. . . Because of [spitting tobacco juice,] I did not imagine Japanese ballplayers had ever followed tobacco chewing. Does caramel chewing date back that far for them instead?
hisashi wrote:I believe tobacco chewing has never been popular in Japan, though several ballplayers from the major league brought their custom in. Firebreak Chewing-gum was introduced into Japanese market in 2003 but now is seems unavailable.
I should explain my small gladness to hear that this practice did not follow baseball to Japan. In twenty years as a utility worker and drainage technician, I worked with some construction men who “chaw” tobacco (another old term for it here). On the job they commonly spit it but I say nothing about it, because it’s simply a fact of working life there.
  • Some few American Civil War re-enactors also do this too. In those days, soldiers marching in column often hung their tin cups behind their field packs. Reportedly, a few who chewed tobacco on the march might try to spit it into the cup of the man in front of them. But then, fistfighting was much more common in ranks than now. . .

    Construction workers have some things partly in common with soldiers. They share hard outdoor work, dangerous tools, chance of injury and death, following orders and officers they might dislike -- and complaining about all of it, too Chance of violence between workers on the job can also be higher than in other workplaces.
Candy and tobacco are ordinary comforts to anyone else, but to soldiers and workers they may be even more needed for their stress relief.

As early as WW1, the US Army noted that candy had become more popular among its soldiers than chewing tobacco. It did not explain why, but I think this was already a civilian trend that recruits brought with them when drafted.
  • From the histories of Japanese candies we have seen, maybe IJA / IJN recruits also did the same? If so, it would differ from the same wider availability to them of iced desserts –- a relative luxury -- as discussed earlier (see posts 567, 568, and 574),

    From the end of the 19th century American children first began to be small consumers on their own, and had money for things like penny candies. When they grew up, many of them became the doughboys of WW1. If candies were becoming easily available to Japanese children of the 1910s-20s, similar comparison might be made when they grew up to draft age.
Thus, candy was as common at the IJA shubo as at the US Army post canteen. It is ordinary and unremarkable to us today. But, their elders (and older soldiers too) did not commonly have such luxury -- or even much concept of it?
  • I think it’s important to recapture how any change of living looked and felt was to different generations of a given time. Candy is only a very small matter of taste, but we have seen the same in wider areas of military provisioning. Maybe especally so in Japan, because she modernized later and faster than other powers?
Of course this is best seen with new military technologies at large, and how different generations of soldiers felt about them at the time –- not always badly.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:I could not find the reference, but didn’t the famous IJN air ace Sakai Saburo mention that caramel candies were good for trading with SW Pacific natives?
hisashi wrote:Ah, yes. a veteran's recall (served in Manchuria) mentioned to the exchange. On his account, Yokan and caramel candy were occasionary rationed in tern as sweets. Those who want more liquors spared their sweets. Most tobacco was consumed before any exchange.
http://hisappi.com/heisiro/war01/text-s190928.html
As an almost-non-smoker, I used to wonder a little at first how cigarettes could be exchanged as currency. Because someone has to smoke them in the end, and then their value is gone. But the same would be true of food in a starvation economy, and everyone can understand bartering food in such a situation.
  • Among other names, Germans called their post-WW2 early years a Zigarettenwirtschaft (cigarette economy) because of this common practice. Was there a comparable term in occupied Japan?
Of course, soldiers trading their few precious cigarettes in a war zone are different from a whole nation of starved civilians doing the same, whether German or Japanese (and others).

====================================
Sewer King wrote:. . . Poetry seems to have enough places in Japanese military history. Some great samurai were known for it, as were some leading IJA officers. Many IJN warships had poetic names . . . and could have some subtle appeal to an ordinary Japanese serviceman even though he is not a poet himself.
hisashi wrote:It is a common mentarism that giving cheerful name makes personnels positive to their mission. A friend of mine once said all JSDF administrative service-in-arm should be renamed as 'budget jaeger' to improve their morale.
Many armies have insulting terms for their rear-area troops. But I never heard a positive one proposed before, even as joke. The least insulting one I remember from my service was “clerk jerk.” In another Forum section an Israeli confirmed for me the term ”jobnik” used in his army.
  • Everyone knows the various names for specal-force or other elite troops in different armies – such as the British and Dutch commando, the German Jâger, the US Ranger, Russian raydoviki. Was or is there a similar or close Japanese term?
In the old days of sailing wooden navies, discipline was hard and food often poor. It was their contrast of hard sea life and poetic ship names that struck me, especially in the old British Royal Navy. Both British and Japanese upper classes had long respect for myth, literature, and poetry. Although the IJN modeled itself on the RN, its own same contrast was only coincidence, in later days of steel warships -- and better food.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:Is the candy can in the middle pic painted in Manchukuo flag colors?
hisashi wrote:Aha, must be. I did not notice it.
Likely this was not for IJA soldiers, but maybe a commemorative for civilian sale? There are few sources in any depth about the puppet armies of Manchukuo and others. But surely they were not issued IJA food rations, let alone luxuries like candies?

(Some discussion of the puppet armies in another thread.)

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 16 Sep 2014 09:17

This latter link mentions carbon monoxide danger of its home use, including for heating rooms. Surely this was equal danger in Japanese homes of those days?
Dangerous for heating small room, yes. Rigorously rentan refers to columnar coal briquettes with air holes. Mame of mametan came from 'beans' and it became available. High-powered briquettes must be used with chimney and smaller heater just for individual was also available.
[youtube]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=squwHea8XZs
[/youtube]
Near 9:50 this crip shows a heating-box with one mametan. It was a sokuonki (leg-warmer), a postwar invention. I remember those; it was slow to be hot and was useful if and only if we can light it with other coal products. As son as we gave up our coal stoves my mother stopped to use sokuonki.
If irori is below floor level, what is this kind of stove cartooned in IJA garrison use, above floor?
http://7rinhonpo.jp/archives/50463747.html

This page provides variations of irori. The variant on your example was mainly used in restaurants, where many people share the side of fire without putting their shoes off.

BTW your example shows a conversation in Chinese. The NCO at the door, showing three-red-stripe armband of weekly watch NCO (responsible for patrol and some administration), reaquested three cups of tea to their office in Chinese 'Cyasui Sango Shinjo'. A private, also kiddingly replied 'Ming Bai(certainly) ' in Chinese.

I was unable to find mention of alcohol policy for sub crews, in a cursory look at the common translated books about IJN sub life. Earlier we mentioned it was mostly forbidden aboard German and US subs. If the IJN surface crews could have some alcohol, what was the policy for sub crews?
板倉光馬 (Lt.Cmdr.Itakura Mitsuma) was a notorious drunker. When He led I-2 in Kiska (May 1943), one of his crew met drowning accident from drinking. He decided to erase all liquer from his boat - by drinking'em up. He himself got drunken and he fell to icy ocean of Aleutian. He barely came back to life...
Since these models made of food cannot endure, the photography and the book surely had as much detail work as their presentation. For such an art work, who might be honored to consume these gūnkanmaki?
In her blog she confessed these art was fattening for her. She presented the album and ate them up by herself.
Thus, candy was as common at the IJA shubo as at the US Army post canteen. It is ordinary and unremarkable to us today. But, their elders (and older soldiers too) did not commonly have such luxury -- or even much concept of it?
I have read Beltrone A. & L. Beltrone, 'A Wartime Log',Howell Press. It reviewed a package offered from U.S. Red Cross to U.S. Pilots POW in Germany. I was amazed that it includes some gum, but it seemed many military cared similarly of their personnels with sweets.

At least by 19th century Edo citizens were familiar with sugar (of any quality) and sweets from sugar. As usual, peasants had less chance to enjoy them.


Among other names, Germans called their post-WW2 early years a Zigarettenwirtschaft (cigarette economy) because of this common practice. Was there a comparable term in occupied Japan?
Robert A. Radford's work is well known on tobacco in POW camp.
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/c523efe6 ... z3DSkw0FyS
I don't remember any word for solders' exchange, but in (just) postwar Japan we had a word 'takenoko seikatsu'(bamboo shoot life). Bamboo shoot is made up from parts which covers up inner parts. If we remove them one by one only small core is left. City citizen, who gave away their clothes in stock in exchange for foods from rural people, felt they became closer and closer to naked.
Everyone knows the various names for specal-force or other elite troops in different armies – such as the British and Dutch commando, the German Jâger, the US Ranger, Russian raydoviki. Was or is there a similar or close Japanese term?
挺身隊 (Teishintai,die-in-duty unit) was a broadly used name, often by civilian groups, volunteering or compulsory, for non-combat mission. 勤労挺身隊 (working die-in-duty unit) referred to workers forced to help factories etc. 食糧増産報国挺身隊 (food production increasing die-in-duty-for the-nation unit) was a volunteer movement for farm.

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 09 Nov 2014 05:27

Recently Junior Chamber of Commerce at Kure city asked a local confectionery to re-make navy yokan (red bean cake) for selling at their exhibition.
https://www.facebook.com/kurejc/posts/724607240942623

According to their description, it lasts for 2 years as edible, thanks to sugar-rich breakdown. They made it on old records for those made on supply ship Mamiya, so famous among sailors as 'Mamiya Yokan'. It has larger section than standard yokan.

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 29 Nov 2014 06:50

hisashi wrote: Recently Junior Chamber of Commerce at Kure city asked a local confectionery to re-make navy yokan (red bean cake) for selling at their exhibition . . .
Thanks for this modern connection, Hisashi. One of the best and strongest things about enjoying or teaching any history is showing how it lives on today, good or bad. But, in food history this is almost always good D:
  • And thanks especially for your support in history and current events that are not easily seen outside of Japan.
As with navy yokan here, sometimes the history has to be completely revived, since its continuity had been broken by the end of the war. Even so. that is preferable to it being lost.
hisashi wrote:. . . According to their description, it lasts for 2 years as edible, thanks to sugar-rich breakdown. They made it on old records for those made on supply ship Mamiya, so famous among sailors as 'Mamiya Yokan'. It has larger section than standard yokan.
Like the large cooking kettles (suiji-gama [炊事釜]) aboard capital warships, I guess they were meant for serving to numerous crewmen. Fewer but larger yokan are easier to make than more and smaller ones. It seems that any modern buyer would mean to serve more people with it too. I had wondered if it was similar about these very large kagami mochi arranged by IJN sailors’ for New Year celebration.
  • In this Forum it was told that German beer bottled for Wehrmacht issue was slightly higher in alcohol than ordinary beer, to help preserve it in the field.

    In old sailing-ship navies, the ship’s biscuits or hardtack was reputed to last for decades, because it had no fats or moisture in it.

    Old-fashioned butter of pre-19th century was saltier than now, with refrigeration not so exact. So it was often soaked in water before use -- like barreled salted meat of the same time.
Making navy yokan sweeter sounds similar to these.

They say that a person’s appetite and taste of food can differ when living outdoors. If so, I would expect long times at sea to have a similar effect on sailors’ tastes. Maybe sweeter than ordinary yokan helped for that too?

====================================

Is it likely that records of IJN recipes or cookery are better preserved than those of the IJA? The Army had to feed many more men. But the Navy had to be more technically-minded about its food, because sailors at sea did not cook their own meals. Nor could they go to foraging for food or commandeering it, as soldiers can.

A recent book looks at food and messing aboard warships across the entire history of the US Navy:
  • Shappee, Rudy. Beef Stew for 2500: Feeding our Navy from the Revolutionary War to the Present. (South Jetty Publishing, 2008), 119 pages, illustrated.

    The author is a staffer at the aircraft carrier USS Midway Museum, berthed at San Diego, He is a Navy aircrew veteran though not a Navy cook himself. He selected some navy recipes from different eras and had students re-create them. The dishes were photographed and reviewed for taste. Perhaps naturally, not all were enjoyed as ‘originally’ made. Naturally tastes have changed since then, and so have ingredients and cooking methods -- and the mealtime conditions.
The book reminded me of the sample of IJN dishes cited earlier here. That described only a few of 500 dishes chosen, in a 1935 survey of sailors’ favorites. As noted, some of those few continue as ordinary dishes in today’s Japan (see post 535). I guess this is natural since the IJN was relatively young and quickly modern, without having to evolve up from wooden ship fleets -– and the food of those days.
  • Of IJN legacy dishes, the most popular of all seems agreed to be Japanese-style curry (kare) as mentioned earlier (posts 338 and 351), and in the survey. Although we cannot see others of the survey’s 500 dishes, I imagine enough of them could also be easily served today, like curry.

    Maybe, even, some of them are? If some have IJN connections, like yokan and curry, they seem a natural interest for Chambers of Commerce of the former IJN port cities. Perhaps this has already been researched? And maybe argued too, like most history anywhere.
====================================

Food-as-culture in Japan is a popular interest for both visitors and non-visitors. I would guess that food history has some place there too, especially among master cooks. Earlier, Hisashi explained some general history of traditional foods and dishes dating from before Meiji era.

Military connections of some contemporary dishes date from Imperial times. Still, that side of Japanese food history should have little of the war’s controversies? Of course it has much of the war’s suffering too, as we have seen in this thread. Even just in English language, there was much more about it than I had expected at first. And there is still much more in preparation.

The Japanese love of food, along with revived navy yokan and the book Beef Stew for 2500 led me to wonder. Could a similar history be written in Japanese about IJA / IJN food?
  • Authors Cwiertka and Ohnuki-Tierney have already approached the subject in English, with both widely cited here. They referred to many Japanese sources, although taking a wider sociological view than just the military one. Certainly their books were scholarly, but readable too. And a good study need not only be university-published (i.e., Tannahill and others also cited here). Beef Stew for 2500 is an example of this. It combines detailed history, lore, re-enacted photography, and recipes that give a good scope of 200 years of USN cookery afloat.

    Besides the yokan associated with catering ship Mamiya, there was earlier mention of original IJN cookery books from 1888 and 1908 (see post 338). Like the 1935 survey these are good primary sources, even if they might be hard to reach.
I understand that such an imagined study could be too specialized for wider print publishing. Difficulties of any publication today might be more so for this, whether in Japan or not. Especially since food history is a relatively specialized subject (slightly different from food as history). There could be IJA re-enactor interest, but that is very specialized too. In comparison, a number of good books are specifically about US Civil War cooking and provisioning, aimed at different interests –- re-enactor, scholarly, and general military. But, the market for those is well-known already.

If we have an interesting enough study here in English –- still continuing, though unedited -- it seems that one in Japanese would naturally be superior.

====================================
hisashi wrote:. . . Rigorously rentan [charcoal fuel] refers to columnar coal briquettes with air holes. Mame- of mametan came from 'beans' and it became available.
Ah, now I see mame- of “beans” in edamame (whole soya beans), same as in mametan. Recently edamame has become more common in the US (usually green ones), same as panko bread crumbs mentioned earlier (see posts 623 and 625).

The cast columnar shape of rentan with its air holes, coincidentally looks like that of solid-fuel rocket propellant. Aren’t large grains of gunpowder for the heaviest artillery shells also shaped similar? All are wanted to burn at a controlled rate, though each is for very different purpose and speed of burning.
hisashi wrote: High-powered briquettes must be used with chimney. . .
Earlier we saw this cookstove with chimneys; also another one in IJA garrison use. Probably these were the kind for high-heat briquettes? Among our pics of field stoves, these ones are unusual because they have chimneys, while others did not. Although we can’t be sure what fuel is burning in either one.

Early IJA field stoves shown from the 1904 war (see post 67) were of sectional design for animal pack carry, together with their kama. Almost the same design is still seen in this field kitchen area. which seems 1930s although undated.

Is it possible that the field stoves are mostly unique to military use? That is, because:
  • Most civilian cooks did not travel with their stoves. But soldier cooks had to do so,
    They were made of sheet metal, not traditional common material like timber or earth. Therefore relatively expensive?
    If their metal is thin, they can burn out from steady use. The army can afford to replace them, however.
We have seen that IJA field cooks didn‘t always use the metal stoves, sometimes digging earthen fireplaces instead (especially in a windy place?) If the metal ones are not a military design, then we simply had no occasion to see pics of them in civilian use like irori and other ordinary kinds.
hisashi wrote:. . . and smaller heater just for individual was also available.
Individual cooking heaters are well-known from several of the WW2 armies, such as:
Yet Japanese individual soldier’s heaters seem little known abroad. Several of our field cooking photos commonly show IJA messkits hung low from a pole over a fire (as done with German messkits too). If so, were single heaters not widely issued by IJA in general? Or, maybe they were more common in the colder theaters of north China and northern islands, rather than the Pacific?

====================================

The rolling field kitchens (yesen suijisha) look like a standard design. But the common cooking kettles (kama, see post 634) seem mostly typical designs, not standard, much like those in ordinary civilian use. I infer that it was the same for various charcoal stoves in garrison -- that is, ones in military use would be much the same as civilian, but no real standard.

On the other hand, would the large stoves in garrison kitchens shown in photo, and also in comic illustration, differ from those in restaurant kitchens? Army cookhouses prepare large amounts of basic dishes at regular times. However, civilian restaurants must instead cook individual orders all the time.
  • What does it say on the banner hanging.from the cookhouse ceiling in the above photo? Something patriotic or unit-proud would seem better placed in the messhall rather than the kitchen.

    In that garrison kitchen, both stoves have a (steam?) pipe connection to a tall boiler(?) behind each of them. There looks like a firebox at right, with a chimney(?) on top up to roof.
hisashi wrote:Near 9:50 this clip [about coal briquette making and use in 1950s Japan] shows a heating-box with one mametan [single charcoal briquette]. It was a sokuonki (leg-warmer), a postwar invention. I remember those; it was slow to be hot and was useful if and only if we can light it with other coal products. As soon as we gave up our coal stoves my mother stopped to use sokuonki.
It might be hard for some today to picture all common house needs, whether civilian or military, heated entirely by charcoal. Many of us have grilled meats and fish over charcoal. But likely we were not raised to cook everything on charcoals, every day, all our lives. Moreover, this doesn’t include other ordinary hot water needs outside of cooking. Rentan is quite efficient, and innovative when first created.
  • In the film, manufacture of briquettes resembles that of 19th Century black gunpowder. Where coal is crushed and made into a slurry for casting as rentan, black powder ingredients were blended and crushed by the same kind of heavy, paired mill wheels. Both processes also have to guard against explosive dust.

    Also In the film, cooking of gohan over rentan had a plug-in timer with sound signal to tell the wife that rice was ready. Surely this was a modern device of the time, not from pre-war? It has been long since I cooked rice regularly over stovetop fire, with a clock timer as I originally learned how. Seeing old ways looks strange now because, like most, I have since relied on the electric rice cooker.

    Western equivalent to sokuonki might be the bed-warmer, used in hard winters in pre-20th century. It was filled with red-hot embers from the house’s wood-fire. Then held by its long handle and slowly passed between the bedsheets to warm them before sleeping. Not too slowly, or else it might scorch the bedding –- or worse, ignite it! Like sokuonki it was best used with already-burning fuel. Since they were often handsomely made of polished brass, bed-warmers often survive as antique decorations today.
As Hisashi said earlier, ordinary Japanese had to be frugal with household expenses. I have read that most Japanese home kitchens today do not have enclosed bake ovens, because Japanese cooking styles seldom use those. Food historian Reay Tannahill pointed out a similar economy from a wider viewpoint -- in north Asia, some traditional breads were steamed rather than baked, since baking uses more fuel. This is inverse to what Hisashi also noted about rice as staple food for field troops, which uses more water than bread or biscuit.
  • Whether the cooks were civilian or military, rich or poor, garrison or field, Imperial Guard or reserve -- I imagine they all worked with the same frugality, more or less.
Allied army field ranges and cookstoves used gasoline and fuel tablets since those were plentiful for them, though it had small safety risk. Charcoal briquettes or coke were standard fuel for German Army rolling field kitchens, though they could substitute firewood.

But charcoal seems more critical for the Japanese with their limited supplies and distant deployment. I would guess charcoal was relatively common to find throughout the China theater. Likely it was precious in the remote Pacific islands, and in Siberia also? This could be another reason why individual IJA soldiers’ heaters are seldom seen?
  • In post 16, a captured Japanese document about island defense emphasized conserving charcoal, as well as foodstuffs.

    Major Horie Yoshitaka, in charge of supplies for Iwo Jima, included charcoal among vital cargoes shipped to the defenders there. But he said it was relatively more for winter heating, than for cooking use. He also said that making charcoal was a labor task for both officers and men, at Iwo’s rear area on Chichi Jima.

    (Horie, Fighting Spirit: the Memoirs of Major Yoshitaka Horie and the Battle of Iwo Jima., English translation edited by Eldridge & Tatum, Naval Institute Press, 2011, page 94. Originally published in Japan as Tokon: Iō-To, Kobunsha,1965, reprinted 2005])
Taki mentioned the use of copra from coconut for cooking fuel, apparently in small-scale use on Pacific islands where other fuels were scarce. Coconut husks themselves can be roasted to make excellent charcoal, but that’s a laborious job on a large scale. Japanese forces at Rabaul organized foodstuffs and sundries as a small industry, including much made from coconuts. I would expect thst they made coconut charcoal there, too, In Rabaul’s humidity, protecting rice storage from spoilage was a problem -– since charcoal naturally absorbs moisture, it could have had the same problem.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:. . . If the IJN surface crews could have some alcohol, what was the policy for sub crews?
hisashi wrote:板倉光馬 (Lt.Cmdr. Itakura Mitsuma) was a notorious drunker. When he led [sub] I-2 in Kiska (1943), one of his crew met drowning accident from drinking. He decided to erase all liquor from his boat -- by drinking 'em up. He himself got drunken and he fell into icy ocean of Aleutian. He barely came back to life. . .
I can’t imagine how Itakura’s own commander took this news –- or how Itakura explained it himself in hospital. Submarine sailor or not, wasn’t it a serious offense to be drunk on duty? And he was the skipper, no less. Even though sub fleet culture is always different from those of surface and air fleets in any navy.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:. . .Since these [IJN warship models made of food ] cannot endure, their photography and the book surely had as much detail work as their presentation. For such an art work, who might be honored to consume these gūnkanmaki?
hisashi wrote:In her blog she confessed this art was fattening for her. She presented the album and ate them up by herself.
There is a saying that “suffering makes great art.” Here, it was the other way around. :D

====================================
Sewer King wrote:. . . candy was as common at the IJA shubo as at the US Army post canteen. It is ordinary and unremarkable to us today. But, their elders (and older soldiers too) did not commonly have such luxury -- or even much concept of it?
hisashi wrote:At least by 19th century Edo citizens were familiar with sugar (of any quality) and sweets from sugar. As usual, peasants had less chance to enjoy them.
Perhaps it is more correct that the youngers knew packaged, commercial candies/sweets in the modern sense, more than their elders?

Edo dwellers as example sounds like the distinction as seemed to me earlier (see post 629), where Edo urbanites were more likely to have meat and pure white rice than rural countrymen. We also considered availability of frozen desserts for IJA compared to civilians (see posts 568 through 574).

Food is one of many things that older soldiers often stick the younger ones about –- in any country, any army. They will say, “You young troops have everything too easy. In the last war, the army fed us rougher food than you get nowadays.” I thought this could have been said by old IJA veterans of 1904-05, to young IJA soldiers of 1930s who might have good menus on regular basis, candies (see post 563, also assorted treats (?), and bottled beer, etc.
  • US Civil War veterans said that doughboys of WW1 had Army life easy.
    Then WW1 veterans would have said it about the young GIs of WW2 (see post 72).
    In turn, the WW2 veterans of all armies probably said the same about their sons in the Cold War armies.
    And so on . . .
Candies and chocolate were so ordinary and common for Allied troops, especially American ones who were famous for them. Throughout the war the Allies kept access to cane sugar and cacao, which the Axis could not do. For wartime German and Japanese troops, sugar sweets generally seemed more a soldier’s privilege or treat instead. (Fresh fruits seem the best appreciated on all sides.)

====================================
hisashi wrote:I have read Beltrone A. & L. Beltrone, 'A Wartime Log',Howell Press. It reviewed a package offered from U.S. Red Cross to U.S. Pilots POW in I was amazed that it includes some gum, but it seemed many military cared similarly of their personnel with sweets.
Dried fruits, jam, and chocolate were in Red Cross parcels for American PoWs, back in WW1. (Also cited from same official source by US Army Quartermaster Corps history of WW1 rations.) I think it was partly because sweets were small, therefore compact to fit inside the Red Cross packages. Also, they may have some comfort value to a prisoner, as luxuries in his uncertain life.

Of course, in WW2 ETO, such luxuries in Red Cross parcels could be useful for trading with the PoW camp guards. Or shared with others, as told below.

As a basic need, food is naturally a strong memory in any PoW account. Probably so for all PoWs, with or without writing memoirs? Although of course, the strong memory can be either good or bad.
  • A Soviet Army sergeant quoted below was wounded, twice decorated, then captured by the Germans at Odessa. He joined the German forces, and later Vlasov’s Russian Army of Liberation. At war’s end he was in the hands of the western Allies. To one of their officers, he bitterly told what made him one of many who turned against the USSR.
    You think, Captain, that we sold ourselves to the Germans for a piece of bread? Tell me, why did the Soviet Government forsake us? Why did it forsake millions of prisoners? We saw prisoners of many nationalities, and they were taken care of. Through the Red Cross they received parcels and letters from home; only the Russians received nothing. In Kassel I saw American Negro prisoners, and they shared their cakes and chocolates with us. Then why didn’t the Soviet Government, which we considered our own, at least send us some plain hardtack? . . . Hadn’t we fought for our country? If Stalin refused to have anything to do with us, we didn’t want to have anything to do with Stalin!

    Tolstoy, Nikolai. The Secret Betrayal (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1977; originally published in UK as Victims of Yalta; page 41)
This contrasts with Japanese PoWs, who were amazed at the good food given them by their US captors, As told earlier here and in other threads, cigarettes and C Rations had been the Americans’ first peace gestures to them (see this post and also here, about "O Ration").

Food might be a relatively small reason for some Soviet PoWs to join the Germans -- or Japanese PoWs to cooperate with Americans, But it’s noticeable how both readily told it as example. Few of us have experienced real hunger and malnourishment, let alone starvation.

-- Alan

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 26 Dec 2014 19:31

Sewer King wrote:. . . [As late as the 1980s,] many of [China’s PLA ground] units still cooked in kettles on earthen fireplaces in the ground, much like IJA suiji-gama (see post 634). During China’s border war with Vietnam in 1979, her front-line troops there had simple field rations of rice, dried vegetables, salt, cooking oil, and tea. This also, was not so different from what wartime Japanese troops ate.
These few pics are from Chinese coverage of the brief 1979 war. They illustrate the above, including the kettles in low earthen fireplaces like those of IJA.
  • PLA troops vegetables Ch-Vn War 1979 001.jpg
    PLA troops make dumplings Ch-Vn War 1979 002.jpg
But they were printed along with this interesting caption:
Some Japanese newspapers reported that the Chinese troops had poor food to eat, no more than a small portion of rice and beans. This was not true. With the support of the Chinese people. the soldiers had plenty of vegetables. The picture [above] shows them making plenty of dumplings.

Kin, Li Man; and Kingsway editors. Sino-Vietnamese War revised edition. (Hong Kong: Kingsway International Publications Ltd,,1982), page 91.
I’m not sure why so specific a denial of what Japanese newspapers allegedly said. But the pictorial book does have a strong propaganda sense about it, however natural that might be.
  • The “support of the Chinese people” may have been PLA militia, in support roles for the Main Force regulars in combat.

    Fighting on the China-Vietnam border would flare up again as a little-remembered long skirmish from 1983 to 1988. Most of this was limited to a single crossing apart from the larger battlefields of 1979. The PLA pictorial magazine Jiefanghun Huabao showed it fought in WW1 manner -- mostly with artillery and entrenched infantry, and little tank or air support. Chinese forces used it as a small training range –- with all live-firing, and real casualties of course.
Like today’s Russian Army, the Chinese PLA Ground Forces have reorganized into a smaller, higher-tech professional military since then. More than 30 years after realizing it needed to update its field rations , I imagine most of today’s smaller PLA now uses the new combat rations linked earlier.

A few parts of IJA field equipment may have continued in PLA use:
  • In the Korean war, 7.7mm Japanese Army rifles were issued to some Chinese troops, with limited production of their ammo carried on in Manchuria [at the Harbin arsenal?]

    Rubber soles of IJA canvas shoes (jikatabi) were similar to those of PLA worn as late as the 1980s.

    PLA entrenching shovels often had small holes in their blades, to fit an improvised cord sling for it if needed. Vietnam War collectors know this feature from some North Vietnamese Army shovels, many of which were Chinese-made. US Army vets of the 1950s-60s may have wondered why their own entrenching shovels also had these blade holes (Model 1945, used through 1960s). I believe all of them copied it from the IJA shovel.
Although the PLA cooking kettle is close in design to the Japanese suiij-gama, these seem common enough across Asia –- and ancient enough? –- not to be an IJA legacy.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:. . . Among other names, Germans called their post-WW2 early years a Zigarettenwirtschaft (cigarette economy) because of this common practice [of cigarettes used as money]. Was there a comparable term in occupied Japan?
hisashi wrote:Robert A. Radford's work is well known on tobacco in POW camp [economy].
In one unusual case, cigarettes were made by Allied PoWs held at Rabaul. Australian officer John J. Murphy persuaded his captors to allow a cigarette manufacture to be set up, in exchange for supplying half its output to them [about 150 cigarettes per day]. It would be interesting if this was also remembered in any Japanese accounts.
hisashi wrote:. . . I don't remember any word for soldiers' exchange [of tobacco], but in (just) postwar Japan we had a word 'takenoko seikatsu' (bamboo shoot life). Bamboo shoot is made up from parts which covers up inner parts. If we remove them one by one only small core is left. City citizen, who gave away their clothes in stock in exchange for foods from rural people, felt they became closer and closer to naked.
In ruined postwar Germany, as it seems in ruined Japan at the same time, there was comparatively more food in the countryside.

Finland made a postwar joke similar to takenoko seikatsu, about their heavy reparations to USSR. It referred to this 1000-Finnmark banknote of 1945, engraved with classical naked figures looking out to sea.
  • 1000 Finnmark note.jpg
    Finns said the figures were watching all their possessions being shipped to Russia, including their clothes.
As wartime soldiers, the Japanese apparently starved the most in general. Those of the Soviets starved most notoriously in German captivity. Whether for soldier or civilian, hunger can have its own grim jokes like the above, but that is naturally lost when it worsens into starvation.

====================================
hisashi wrote:. . . In Rabaul they could find drafted experts of any kind from numerically massive army/navy force, so they made miso, soy sauce and various commodities by themselves.
This is often told about Rabaul, by many writers and observers. The Australians who took its surrender noted how self-sufficient a base it was through to the war’s end –- and even afterward for a time, as well-told in:
Although not high in quality or variety, the foods were still good enough to live on. Above all they were not in dire shortage, so the Japanese at Rabaul did not starve like their comrades in the Micronesian islands (see post 19).
  • In another thread, we have a photo of IJN sailors molding and cutting bars of old-style soap. Behind them, hot soap paste is being stirred in the kama (large kettle, a kind that Hisashi recently explained in post 634). For this they used coconut oil, abundant from local food processing. Although not captioned or named by location, I think this scene is likely at Rabaul.

    Soap is not always thought of as a ration item. But in old armies and navies it was one of the “sundries,” or non-food supplies for everyday housekeeping. Sometimes sundries were issued by ration scale to sub-units, not individual troops. Old-style soap of this kind could be hard and rough by today's standards -- and used for both bathing and clothes-washing. Anyway, abundance of soap (and fresh water) would be another sign of the good living conditions at Rabaul.
It seems that the IJN did best at Rabaul’s “industries.” If so, it might be because navies always relied on their mens’ skills as technicians and tradesmen more than armies did. This would naturally continue in navy life ashore at remote island bases.

Was civilian trade or occupation entered in a Japanese soldier or sailor’s paybook? So that an officer or NCO could see who among his men was experienced in certain work. Or, might he just ask among the men to find any experienced workers he needed?

Naturally, many fishermen and farm laborers were in the ranks. But if someone had a special skill, such as tailor or butcher, I imagined he could be called upon to do it.
  • The Pacific War movie None But the Brave (1965) was directed by Frank Sinatra and released in Japan as Yusha Nomi. It was one of the first American war films to have a Japanese cast and production crew, to dramatize some IJA soldier life for English-speaking audiences.

    Early in the film, the Japanese commander {played by Mihashi Tatsuya) thanked an experienced carpenter and a fisherman among his men, since they provided for his isolated sub-unit.
I imagine that in any small unit, the men soon knew who among them was the best singer, or the best artist, the best sportsman, etc. (In that movie, the best singer was also shown.) If someone had a useful skill apart from his duty, his mates would respect and remember him for it. It was said here (in post 159) that most Japanese field soldiers took their turn at cooking, but I would guess the best cook would especially be known too.

-- Alan
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Wellgunde » 26 Dec 2014 22:51

Sewer King wrote:The “support of the Chinese people” may have been PLA militia, in support roles for the Main Force regulars in combat.
This is just a propaganda term meaning that the entire Chinese nation was contributing to the military effort, supplying the army with arms, ammunition, food stuffs, and whatever else they needed to fight the Vietnamese.
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 27 Dec 2014 13:52

Was civilian trade or occupation entered in a Japanese soldier or sailor’s paybook? So that an officer or NCO could see who among his men was experienced in certain work. Or, might he just ask among the men to find any experienced workers he needed?
They invited Takakuwa Sangyo Co.Ltd. (vegetable production) in Jul 1942 and Choshi Shoyu (today Higeta Shoyu)Co.Ltd. (soy sauce, miso etc.) in Oct 1942 to invest in Rabaul.

In general, warrant officer attached to each company was responsible for job assignment. On the other hand paybook was controlled by regimental HQ. So warrant officers must know personally from each soldier what he could. And IJA/IJN arranged civilian companies helped their goods production. We could guess that Rabaul was the most successful area because that help was available there.

Source on the two companies' help: 'Realities of the Japanese Military Rule at Rabaul,New Britain Island, from 1942 to 1945' by Iwamoto Hiromitsu(2002) (in Japanese)
file:///E:/hn/AN0009972X_63-01_02.pdf

Of IJN legacy dishes, the most popular of all seems agreed to be Japanese-style curry (kare) as mentioned earlier (posts 338 and 351), and in the survey. Although we cannot see others of the survey’s 500 dishes, I imagine enough of them could also be easily served today, like curry.
Maybe, even, some of them are? If some have IJN connections, like yokan and curry, they seem a natural interest for Chambers of Commerce of the former IJN port cities. Perhaps this has already been researched? And maybe argued too, like most history anywhere.
There have been a few, not very many, recall by IJA/IJN cookers available only in Japanese. And also some of official documents are available. Here is a navy textbook for cookers in 1918 (basic course).
http://kindai.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/941875

In general the navy was keen to introduce Western foods but perhaps the army could mimic them; curry was also popular in IJA. And as mentioned in this thread, civilian chefs made a great effort to prevail western cuisine into Japanese market. Cities related to IJN are eager to find anything to promote their sightseeing value, and hopefully production, so they make use of nikujaga and other items for their ad. But in fact origin of each item in Japan is not usually clear.

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 02 Feb 2015 07:20

Sewer King wrote:The “support of the Chinese people” may have been PLA militia, in support roles for the Main Force regulars in combat.
Wellgunde wrote:This is just a propaganda term meaning that the entire Chinese nation was contributing to the military effort, supplying the army with arms, ammunition, foodstuffs, and whatever else they needed to fight the Vietnamese.
Actually, there were a few photos of civilian porters, which I hadn’t included. They smiled for the camera while carrying supplies forward to the front lines, slung on poles across their shoulders. As under old PLA organization, these Militia men and women were not uniformed. However, the photos did have the ideal sense of “People’s Army solidarity” common in propaganda up to that time. The old Militia began to be displaced by modern PLA reorganization from the early 1980s onward, which also left behind the “People’s War” doctrine of the Mao Zedong era.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:. . . Was civilian trade or occupation entered in a Japanese soldier or sailor’s paybook? So that an officer or NCO could see who among his men was experienced in certain work. Or, might he just ask among the men to find any experienced workers he needed?
hisashi wrote:. . . In general, warrant officer attached to each company was responsible for job assignment. On the other hand paybook was controlled by regimental HQ. So warrant officers must know personally from each soldier what he could do.
Thanks Hisashi, it is another detail of Japanese soldier life not often found in English-language sources. Things like it are hinted among different photos and accounts we’ve seen across many threads. But everyday IJA administration is seldom covered in translated study. So it’s natural for foreigners to imagine it in terms of other armies they know. I think the Western view of the IJA is usually from its combat on distant battlefields -- not in its rear areas or peacetime garrisons at home. A few English-language authors have recently approached this gap, from study of Japanese sources.

====================================
hisashi wrote:. . . And IJA/IJN arranged civilian companies helped their goods production. We could guess that Rabaul was the most successful area because that help was available there . . .
Commercial venture at Rabaul sounds a little like that in the Nan’yo (Japan’s southern territorial islands and mandates), but I guess that is more different than similar. The Nan’yo were developed over many peacetime years, with regular merchant routes shipping workers there and returning to Japan with raw materials.
hisashi wrote:. . . They invited Takakuwa Sangyo Co.Ltd. (vegetable production) in Jul 1942 and Choshi Shoyu (today Higeta Shoyu) Co.Ltd. (soy sauce, miso etc.) in Oct 1942 to invest in Rabaul.

Source on the two companies' help: 'Realities of the Japanese Military Rule at Rabaul, New Britain Island, from 1942 to 1945' by Iwamoto Hiromitsu (2002) (in Japanese)
file:///E:/hn/AN0009972X_63-01_02.pdf
Could civilian Japanese companies be “drafted” for military/naval support, in similar way as the merchant marine? The IJN had a high standard for support of its men, so I would have guessed them more likely to have invited these two companies.

Earlier we mentioned some few Japanese civilians serving in Micronesia, a poor area compared to Rabaul at its height. Could civilian experts of supporting companies be sent to war zones, like Rabaul -- and likewise have to last out the war, like the garrisons there?

Fleet expansion programs of 1937-onward not only improved the IJN surface and air fleets, but also their existing bases and support. But as with US War Plan ORANGE, would there have been strategic consideration of forward bases needed in case of war? July 1942 was only the beginning of the campaigns for Guadalcanal and the SW Pacific. Inviting the two food firms to Rabaul would seem confidence in victory at that time, despite the defeat at Midway a month earlier.

====================================
Sewer King wrote:. . . Although we cannot see others of the [IJN food] survey’s 500 dishes, I imagine enough of them could also be easily served today, like curry.

. . . Maybe, even, some of them are? If some have IJN connections, like yokan and curry, they seem a natural interest for Chambers of Commerce of the former IJN port cities. Perhaps this has already been researched? And maybe argued too, like most history anywhere.
hisashi wrote:There have been a few, not very many, recall by IJA/IJN cookers available only in Japanese. And also some of official documents are available. Here is a navy textbook for cookers in 1918 (basic course).
.
Since military cooking is not a technical or operational secret, I imagined that some of its documents had survived the war, I am glad to learn that they did. In the West, military cooking historically reflected what its peoples already ate. But in a modernizing Japan, it reflected some ideals of eating that were servicemen’s privilege, such as daily pure rice and more meat. In any given country and time, general diets of civilians and military are not often compared to each other. For Imperial Japan we have seen some examples of this difference.

In a real sense, all cookbooks are ideals too. Any historical cookbook –- army, navy, or civilian –- can’t tell us the typical quality of ingredients, how available they were, or the average skill of the cook who used them. We might look for such things in veteran cooks’ accounts.
  • American Civil War re-enactors use various army cookbooks of that time (unofficial) and cookery accounts. However, for obvious health reasons they must use modern inspected meats, and surely not eat them raw and unchilled as Civil War soldiers occasionally did. In one common telling, soldiers who were issued spoiled meat might give that a military funeral, where their commander could see it if possible.

    Thanks to Hisashi we have seen some food-related humor from the IJA. But apparently few such jokes about their food itself, which was largely good before WW2 at least.

    Some years ago, when the TV cooking show Ryōri no Tetsujin (Iron Chef) became popular in the US, I remember one of the challengers had been an elderly man who had served on Saipan. It seemed unusual that the show mentioned his war service at all, even just in passing. But I can’t remember if it was because his cooking skill began there.
Are there any companies or persons generally well-known in Japan, whose work with food began with WW2? In the US for example, the Baskin-Robbins ice cream store chain began with a USN sailor who made that dessert in the SW Pacific. Fanta soda began in Germany after Coca-Cola was cut off by the war. From some Japanese examples I have heard of (and others mentioned here earlier), many such names were in business long before the war. Despite the wartime ruin of Japan, they survived (or were revived?).

===================================
hisashi wrote:In general the navy was keen to introduce Western foods but perhaps the army could mimic them; curry was also popular in IJA. And as mentioned in this thread, civilian chefs made a great effort to prevail western cuisine into Japanese market . . .
This partly fits the supposition that the IJN was naturally more cosmopolitan than the IJA. A Navy must watch closely what its allies and potential enemies are doing, so it naturally looks outward. Navy officers and sailors naturally travel abroad, and most must learn a technical skill of some kind. On the other hand this may be less true for a larger, more conservative Army, where an infantryman need not be a technician or traveler.

We’ve seen a few quotes and mentions where the IJA / IJN rivalry extended to food. Apparently the strong Naval association of curry did not bother the Army, if they liked it as much. Curry’s wide appeal seems to have been above the rivalry.

There is a recent history just for curries. Unlike those about many other foods, this book includes Japan’s place in that history.
I thought we covered most things about Japanese curry past and present, but the author adds much that was not in our earlier discussions. From pages 251-252:
The Japanese love curry, Every train station and shopping mall in Japan has a stand selling kare raisu (curry rice). Japanese noodle bars sell kare udon (curried wheat noodles), and bread shops offer a bread roll with a blob of curry hidden inside them, called kare pan. In 1982, Japanese schoolchildren voted for curry as the favorite meal served to them by the national school-lunch program . . . pork cutlets, vegetable stir-fry, and curry were three dishes most often cooked for dinner in Japanese homes. The Curry House CoCo Ichibanya chain has 2300 stores [worldwide] serving cheese, banana, frankfurter, fried chicken, and squid curries, which can be ordered at seven levels of spiciness. There are even [manga] in which the best ways of cooking a curry are earnestly discussed by the main characters {16}.
  • 16. Kaiya, Tesu; and Hanasaki, Akira. Oishinbo [Men who Pursue the Exquisite Dish], vol. 24 (Shogakukan, Tokyo, 1990)
As implied above it should not surprise anyone that curry was a subject for manga since it intersects two great Japanese art forms, comics and food. I would expect there were (and are) a great many such comics. Manga most popular abroad are for story. But in Japan aren’t they also commonly drawn for many kinds of detailed instructions and explanations of anything, as well as food?
In January 2005 a curry museum opened in the port [city] of Yokohama, a fitting place as it was through [here] that curry arrived in Japan . . . [In those early days,] British merchant ships had brought with them a wide range of new foods [including] curry, It became very fashionable among the rising middle classes to eat these Western dishes [as] an expression of progressiveness . . . The curry that the British introduced to Japan was the Anglo-Indian version of Indian food that was commonplace throughout the Raj, [and which] had found its way onto the menus of merchant ships and steamers.
I imagine that a curry museum arose from the 2000 debate among the former IJN port cities that claimed its place of origin.

Enough is understood about how curry came to Japan and was ‘Japanized.’ But I wondered a little about how it appealed in itself to a Japanese palate which did not have hot-spiced dishes back then(?). That is, curry went against prevailing taste even if it was “modern.” For example, it does not seem that Korean hot-spiced meat dishes could have been as popular (at least, until after WW2). I suppose that it would be lower degrees of “hot” curries, less than Indian originals. Not all of those were strongly hot, either.

Collingham also cites a obscure history connection of Japanese curry I would never have imagined:
Only a few decades later Indian food as eaten by Indians was introduced to Japan. In 1912 Rash Behari Bose, a revolutionary Indian nationalist, fled the British authorities in Bengal. His found refuge with the right-wing militarist Black Dragon Society in Japan. There he married the daughter of a family with Black Dragon connections. While he helped spread anti-British propaganda among Indian students in Japanese universities, he also helped to popularize Indian food. Bose taught his father-in-law [Sōma Aizō], who owned a bakery, how to make curry the Indian way [ie, with vegetables] without using either flour or curry powder, Sōma used his new culinary skills to open a restaurant named Nakamuraya after his daughter, Bose’s wife. The restaurant is still there in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district and apparently still serves an R.B. Bose curry {19}. Other Indian restaurants have followed but the Japanese prefer their own versions of Anglo-Indian curry.
  • 19. Bayly, C.A., and Harper, Tim. Forgotten Armies (London: Allen Lane, 2004) pages 5, 16. Kishi, Asako. “Curry on Rice,” Nipponia no. 18, 15 September 2001.
Strangely, Collingham did not mention curry as an IJN tradition, though we have covered it well in our thread. As for curry in the IJA:
. . . Although Anglo-Indian curries were served in [Japan's first] Western-style restaurant as early as 1877, curry found its place in Japan not in elegant restaurants but in [military] canteens. The army adopted curry and rice as an easy meal to cook in large quantities, and curries were also a good way of feeding the troops beef, which the Japanese hoped would strengthen their physique. During the Taishō era (1912-1926), the army even used to advertise that it fed its troops curry, as it drew in new recruits, attracted by the glamorous aura of Western-ness that still surrounded the dish. {20}

After the Second World War, curry and rice appeared [among the school-lunch menus] throughout the country . . . [In the 1960s came] blocks of pre-prepared curry roux [for home cooking] . . . Part of curry’s appeal is that, because it inevitably looked like a sloppy brown mass, it is exempt from [Japanese culinary rules] of purity and perfection. Unlike sushi –- complex to assemble, served with great care for the aesthetics of the food and eaten delicately –- curry is poured on the rice on a plate and eaten with a spoon. It has thus become a Japanese comfort food -- warm, sustaining, and without need of ceremony. {22}
  • 20. Ohnuma, Keiko. “Curry Rice, Gaijin Gold: How the British Version of an Indian Dish Turned Japanese,” Petits Propos Culinaires volume 52, 1996, page 10; Kaiya and Hanasaki, Oishinbo, volume 24.

    22. Ohnuma, “Curry Rice,” pages 10-11.
Earlier we saw the IJA’s promotion of more meat as told again here. Also, the army’s need for a dish easy to make in large amounts. Taki mentioned that whale meat had been made into yamatoni, the classic IJA canned meat like "bully beef" for the British forces. Yamatoni was originally beef, cooked in thick sauce of ginger and shoyu. Probably whale meat was made into curry as well?

It might be said that curry’s versatility was also helpful for army cooking. An IJA lieutenant interviewed about the Burma campaign said that jungle lizard meat was good for it (see this post).

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hisashi wrote:. . . Cities related to IJN are eager to find anything to promote their sightseeing value, and hopefully production, so they make use of nikujaga and other items for their ad. But in fact origin of each item in Japan is not usually clear.
A rush to modernize anything sometimes discards its past with little thought of history. Then that past descends into buried fragments, often scattered. Even if we find and reassemble the fragments, putting them back in living context of their time is another problem.

Sociology of food history has the same. We may have a few recipes or cookbooks, but many circumstances about food of the time will not be in them. Those are the missing context which is sometimes less told or written. It could be partly why, as Hisashi said, some dishes’ origins may be unclear –- or long debated.

-- Alan

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hisashi
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by hisashi » 07 Feb 2015 16:42

Could civilian Japanese companies be “drafted” for military/naval support, in similar way as the merchant marine? The IJN had a high standard for support of its men, so I would have guessed them more likely to have invited these two companies.

Earlier we mentioned some few Japanese civilians serving in Micronesia, a poor area compared to Rabaul at its height. Could civilian experts of supporting companies be sent to war zones, like Rabaul -- and likewise have to last out the war, like the garrisons there?
In 1940 Japanese media frequently used the phrase Bus ni noriokureruna (Don't miss the bus service). It meant that Japan should keep its share in the new world order seeing the victory of Germany to France. More or less, many individuals and companies in that era dreamed of getting their share of recent expantion by Japan. Of course it was diffecult for anyone to refuse the request from the army/navy. And of course, they have been reluctant to admit they were positive at war once we lost the war, so little mention have been given to this aspect.
Enough is understood about how curry came to Japan and was ‘Japanized.’ But I wondered a little about how it appealed in itself to a Japanese palate which did not have hot-spiced dishes back then(?). That is, curry went against prevailing taste even if it was “modern.” For example, it does not seem that Korean hot-spiced meat dishes could have been as popular (at least, until after WW2). I suppose that it would be lower degrees of “hot” curries, less than Indian originals. Not all of those were strongly hot, either.
In 1500s Portoguese merchants brought hot pepper into Japan, but it is not clear whether it was the first. It took a century or more that Japanese began to eat them. And remember Japan have wasabi from the outset (the oldest mention, perhaps a tag for a preserve pot, was in 685 AD).

Along with animal meat, animal fat was a rare ingredient for Japanese. Most fish meat have been impopular for curry, though fish stew of various kind have been very common.

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 03 Apr 2015 05:03

Sewer King wrote:. . . Could civilian Japanese companies be “drafted” for military/naval support, in similar way as the merchant marine? The IJN had a high standard for support of its men, so I would have guessed them more likely to have invited these two companies [for food production] . . .
hisashi wrote:In 1940 Japanese media frequently used the phrase Bus ni noriokureruna (Don't miss the bus service). It meant that Japan should keep its share in the new world order seeing the victory of Germany to France. More or less, many individuals and companies in that era dreamed of getting their share of recent expansion by Japan. Of course it was difficult for anyone to refuse the request from the army/navy. And of course, they have been reluctant to admit they were positive at war once we lost the war, so little mention have been given to this aspect.
“Don’t miss the bus service” is similar to the American term ”get on the bandwagon,” where popular opinion gathers behind whoever is thought to be a winner. The term seems often applied to the Spanish-American War, where newspapers and popular music were the bandwagon gathering public sentiment for war against Spain.

I expect that German diplomats in Tokyo knew the phrase Bus ni nonokurerena when they encouraged Japan to join the early war victories against the USSR in 1941. Certainly, German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop urged Japan’s Foreign Minister Matsuoka on it. Did the phrase “don’t miss the bus service” mean only the southward strategy against Western colonies in Asia? Because the Japanese defeat at Nomonhan (Khalkin Gol) discouraged any northward strategy against the Soviet Far East.

And of course, corporate involvement behind war has a long history, back to the wars involving the British East India Company. If little mentioned in Japan which lost a war, it may be even less mentioned by the world powers who won their wars. Companies in Britain, Germany, and America all did not miss the bus in their times, long before and after the phrase was used in Japan.

Army provisions have been only a small part of this same military-industrial power, in most countries and wars. In the present-day US Army, a large part of feeding field troops is done by well-paid contractors of the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP).

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Sewer King wrote:. . . Enough is understood about how curry came to Japan and was ‘Japanized.’ But I wondered a little about how it appealed in itself to a Japanese palate which did not have hot-spiced dishes back then(?). That is, curry went against prevailing taste even if it was “modern.”
hisashi wrote:In 1500s Portuguese merchants brought hot pepper into Japan, but it is not clear whether it was the first. It took a century or more that Japanese began to eat them. And remember Japan have wasabi from the outset (the oldest mention, perhaps a tag for a preserve pot, was in 685 AD).
Yes, that is so –- thanks for reminder. In looking for fine detail of spices, I forgot the simple basic of wasabi. Even among some Americans who know little about Japanese food, many will know what wasabi is, at least. From ancient use in Japan, I would guess it added vitamins or minerals the same as hot peppers did in Central America.

Just now I found these mentions of modern Japan’s place in the world of hot peppers. From Amal Naj’s Peppers: a Story of Hot Pursuits (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992)
  • Japan is one of the world’s largest customers of the classic American hot-pepper sauce Tabasco. Even to the extent of counterfeiting it, however, this is known from many other countries too. (page 174)

    Apart from traditional wasabi,,I would guess Tabasco became popular in the postwar years? As for hot peppers themselves (pages 5-6):
    . . . [Today’s Japan] produces small quantities of two very hot peppers, the long and slender santaka and hontaka. Because the cost of growing them in the land-starved country is high, Japan also has [contractor] farmers in China grow the same peppers to meet a rising domestic demand . . .
Just as hot pepper was introduced to continental and SE Asia by Spanish trade, so too was it first introduced to Japan from the Portuguese, as Hisashi said. Modern-day santaka and hontaka are said to be Mexican in seed origin, as were the original peppers for Tabasco sauce.

In IJA/IJN messing there seems almost no mention or picture of any chōmiryō (seasoning), that is, for messhall table use rather than cooking ingredient. Is that a relatively modern-day practice, or, did Japanese restaurants of the past offer them at table? Soldiers’ and sailors’ meals were typically fetched to their barracks or bunks, so it would not be so for them. If table seasonings were a luxury of good restaurants, maybe ranking officers’ mess tables might have them. On the other hand, might some finer Japanese dishes never be seasoned by their diners?

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hisashi wrote:. . . Along with animal meat, animal fat was a rare ingredient for Japanese. Most fish meat have been impopular for curry, though fish stew of various kind have been very common.
I am a little surprised that fish is not much “curried” in Japan, considering other seafood curries cooked across southeast Asia. Maybe it was because curry came to a modernizing Japan together with rise of meat-eating -- while fish was long enjoyed there separate from such changes?

Was even vegetable fat uncommon in old Japan?
  • Many peoples had important oil seeds dating back to ancient times, and used across wide regions. For vegetable oil the Mediterranean had the olive and opium, Europe had linseed and sunflower, India had safflower and coconut, the Americas had maize corn and cottonseed, Africa had palm and peanut, and Asia had soybean and rapeseed oils.
Here we have seen soybean oil in IJA and IJN use, even storage just for it aboard a Japanese heavy cruiser. But maybe this was a more modern development?

====================================

Partly inspired by Hisashi’s explanations, I looked for more histories of basic foodstuffs as eaten in Japan.
  • Like most history, that of food is best seen in context of its times and places. But in doing so we might imagine foods or dishes we don’t directly know, or else compare it with ones we do know –- within reason. For some, that might be easier to do than imagining the society or politics of those same time and places.
Still, in this thread I will always return it to IJA/IJN provisions.

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Meat eating in a modernizing Japan (continued from earlier posts here on the subject)

At first I myself imagined that meat-eating in old Japan, though uncommon, followed the Chinese favoring of pork. Though Buddhism reached Japan via China and Korea, like much other culture. Not all Buddhism is inclined against eating meat, and although meat was rare in feudal Japan, there seems to have been some differences in attitudes to it over time.
  • Compared to pigs, cattle took much space for pasturage, ate much grain diverted from feeding people, and needed herding. In general, Japan had less of these things than other countries did. Compared to cattle, pigs were more prolific, ate food waste, and needed little space. So Chinese always ate more pork (and still do), even though they did have beef too.

    Hisashi explained earlier how beef and pork was geographically divided in modern Japan, because of different land-use needs for raising cattle and pigs.

    Incidentally, I have noticed the use of pigskin in IJA boots and gloves. Was this a byproduct of higher pork production in Imperial Japan? In Germany and occupied Europe, cowhide leather for soldiers’ boots and field equipment became scarcer as WW2 went on. But maybe Japan did not have as much cowhide for its needs, even before WW2? Moreover came the demands of the China war, and then the Pacific War.
Grilled or dried meat was most typical of nomadic, pastoral peoples who herded livestock (i.e. Scythians, Aryans, many central Asians, Mongols, Masai, Boers, American Old West ranchers). Among them, headcount of their range animals was a measure of wealth -- similar to measure of rice croplands as wealth in old Japan. Herding peoples have cuisines of meat and milk dairy.

As Hisashi said earlier, the scarcity of spices in pre-modern Japan might also have worked against grilled meat, in addition to the above. Scarcity or cost of spices could mean meat was less dry-preserved, as done in other countries.
hisashi wrote:Daimyō Tokugawa Nariaki (1800-1860) was known as an enthusiast of grilled beef. It was preserved beef with miso paste. This old seasoning method is still popular . . . [using] beef, but miso-preserved pork is also common. Long-preserved meat in this way is very salty . . . Anyway, we grill them.
A similar mention from Watanabe Tokuji and Kishi Asako, The Book of Soybeans (Japan Publications Inc, 1984), page 73:
. . . Sometimes vegetables like cucumbers, eggplant, and daikon radish are pickled by being immersed for certain amounts of time in miso. Meat or fish immersed in miso for relatively long periods of time lose their strong odors. . .
Vegetables pickled with miso might be less known to foreigners, if they tend to think of Japanese cookery by its finished dishes. Was pickling with miso a home kitchen practice? If it was common like making tsukemono, it seems as likely in army kitchens.

Did the Diamyō Tokugawa also promote beef cookery to others around him, or was it more his own personal enthusiasm? If he promoted it, that sounds ahead of his time. The IJA and IJN may have been first in Japan to actually serve more meat on large-scale -- but others before could have advocated it on small-scale.

Meat preserved with miso would be salty indeed. It sounds a little like the barreled salt meat eaten by Western soldiers and sailors through much of the 19th Century.
  • Before cooking barreled meat, it famously had to be soaked (or “steeped”) in fresh water to remove some of the salt. There were even wooden basins just for this, called “steep tubs.” But on old sailing ships, fresh water could be scarce for that use. A common American Civil War telling has some Union troops rinsing their salted meat by hanging it from a rope, down into running stream water.
Corned beef, canned fish, and yamatoni were discussed earlier among IJA rations. If an ordinary dish, was miso-preserved meat also in Army use? If so, presumably it was (or is) commercially canned like those others. However, salt foods can raise thirst –- sometimes a disadvantage for soldiers.

From an old general history of life in pre-modern Japan:
. . . Meat was a rarity in towns, and beef and horseflesh [as sometimes eaten in Europe and Asia] was entirely absent. In fact, in the whole of Japan this was so (for various reasons, partly religious and partly to keep up the number of animals needed for military and agricultural purposes), except that a few daimyō families that had formerly been Christians and said to have secretly persisted in meat-eating . . .

. . . in the Hikone domain, just to the east of Lake Biwa, a local preparation consisting of the tenderest part of the cow, preserved in miso, with the hide and hair left on, was used as a fortifier and is said to have been presented to the Shōgun and some of his senior staff.

Other permitted meats, such as that of deer, boar, and birds, were sold in Edo, sometimes under assumed names, such as ‘mountain-whale’ and ‘medicine,’ for it was appreciated that the protein-scanty diet of the inhabitants could be supplemented by nourishing stews and similar dishes, to the benefit of the health of their consumers, especially in winter. Even so, meat-eaters were few.
As told here, a dish of beef preserved with miso sounds a rare specialty even for the highest men in the country,

Like the above, general writings in English often say “Japanese historically ate little meat because of religious influence against it, especially Buddhist.” But, this telling also seems to associate a few Japanese eating meat with Christian influence at the time. Maybe it was more European generally, rather than Christian?

Reportedly as early as 9th Century Emperor Saga had decreed against eating red meat, allowing only fish and fowl. But long after in the Meiji era, Emperor Mutsuhito was said to eat meat in particular. Though he was a high and privileged person, would his example have been followed by the higher classes?

At the end of Meiji-era Japan, the generally low record of meat eating sounds like the low consumption of white rice during the same time.
  • In the 1970s, a Dr. Saga Junichi recorded his older patients’ memories about life in early 20th Century Japan. Food was a chief memory, often as bare subsistence diet. Even fish was rare for some inland dwellers, let alone animal meat of any kind, Protein for sick people might have to come from wild dog meat, caught by sanka (outcasts). This is similar to meat sold as “medicine” in Edo market.

    According to one Japanese source, chicken was not eaten because of old Shintō taboo, rather than Buddhist -– roosters announced the dawn of day.

    Kobayashi, Kazuhiko; and Smil, Vaclav. Japan’s Dietary Transition and its Impacts. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2012)
Elsewhere across history, some peoples were said to associate red meat with their invaders who ate it:
  • Cattle are revered in India. But that subcontinent was ruled by beef-eating Mughals, and then the beef-eating British.
    It was said that in India, Buddhism leaned to peace and vegetarian food, partly as reaction to the warlike, meat-eating Aryans.
    China was long attacked by meat-eating Mongol horsemen.
    When Central America became Spanish, its peoples first began to eat meat and cheese which they did not have before.
Didn’t the Japanese themselves characterize their earliest European visitors as red-meat-eaters? That is, among their many other impressions.

Yet, meat as protein fortifier was long-known in Japan, even to poor villagers, though it was seldom and low-grade meat. On the other hand, many European commoners of the Middle Ages often ate little meat too, and pork more than beef. They too could be deficient in protein and vitamins, same as their Japanese counterparts. A few were helped by the Salerno diet (or Salerno regimen) in Italy, in which they might have more meat than before. Again, this compares to eating meat as medicine in old Japan.

Some Meiji-era Japanese associated meat-eating with progress, seeing Westerners residing in Japan import livestock there for their own eating. A satire writer of that time, Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894), wrote this monologue for one of his characters in a play:
Excuse me, but beef is certainly a most delicious thing, isn’t it? Once you get accustomed to the taste, you can never go back to deer or wild boar again. I wonder why we in Japan haven’t eaten such a clean thing before? . . . We really should be grateful that people like ourselves can now eat beef, thanks to the fact that Japan is steadily becoming a truly civilized country. [Some unenlightened people cling to superstitions] and say that eating more meat defiles you so much that you can’t pray before the Buddha and the gods . . . In the West they’re free of superstition. There it’s the custom to do everything scientifically, and that’s why they’ve invented amazing things like the steam engine.
As is often the case, social feeling like this can be better found in popular literature of the time, rather than the histories. Especially so with satire. Note that deer and boar –- ancient game meats native to Japan -– are told here as inferior, “once you get over the taste” of beef.
  • Was the IJA/IJN generally thought of (by itself, or by others in Japan) as a leader of Japan’s modernization? My first impression is ‘no,’ although it surely was a beneficiary –- and proponent –- of nutrition science.
Eating more meat became military policy, but I haven’t yet heard of soldiers themselves calling it a modernity, although they liked it. If anywhere, probably it would have been in their diaries?

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An aside about Japanese soldiers’ and sailors’ diaries. Perhaps this is long known in Japan, but I have the following impression about them:
  • Among the many unknown thousands of diaries (many thousands?), most were lost with their writers in battle,
    Only a relatively small number would survive the war.
    Of those that survived, only relative fewer would be published.
    Of those published, only some fraction might still be fairly available, even in Japan?
    Of those available, probably fewest of all are those that have been translated. They were done because of especial interest about their writers, i.e. Admiral Ugaki Matome. Yokota Yutaka based his book The Kaiten Weapon on his diaries as one of those special attack pilots, and it was translated for that interest.
What a wealth of detail about IJA/IJN life must have been lost with the diaries and their writers. And still more that went unpublished, maybe. Both ordinary meals and special foods would seem to be a frequent detail, often mentioned in context of the writer’s workday. Perhaps this is natural, because it might connect to his morale at that time?

-- Alan

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