Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
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hisashi
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by hisashi » 07 Feb 2015 17:52

In Dec 1941 CV Akagi was authorized to have five hikotaicho (leader of hikotai). But on the other hand, the group of all aircrafts on Akagi was called as Akagi hikotai. 5 leaders in a team. Moreover, we know Cdr Fuchida was THE leader of akagi air unit.

In fact, hikotaicho(Cdr or LCdr) posts were used for Fuchida(senior leader), LCdr Itaya (fighters' leader) and LCdr Murata(attackers' leader). Dive bombers' leader was Lt Chihaya but he was a buntaicho.

At Pearl Harbor Fuchida's shotai had three pieces and pilots were Matsuzaki (Fuchida was on observers' seat), Watanabe and Takemura.

On 20 Jan 1942 when they bombed Rabaul, but Fuchida did not fly for this minor operation. With other observer, Matsuzaki, Takemura and Yasue formed a shotai. Watanabe joined another shotai.

On 21 Jan 1942 type 97 took on anti-sub patrol on a rotation. Each team had 4 pieces and Matsuzaki, Watanabe, Takemura and Okazaki formed a shotai. Yasue flew with another shotai.

On 22 Jan 1942 again they raided Rabaul. Matsuzaki, Takemura and Yasue formed a shotai and Nakai, Watanabe and Okazaki formed another.

So, what is shotai? It was no more than 'a team for the duty of the day'. Machine trouble, sickness, and of course the nature of the mission affected the formation.

Hikotaicho (concurrently buntaicho) and buntaicho (LT or LCdr, but LCdr was so scarce) were usually delegated to form and reform his team for each mission. How do we give word-to-word translation on this situation?

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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by durb » 09 Feb 2015 17:26

Looking little for those terms of air units. Looking the wikipedia, it gives this about the Kokutai first this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kokutai - which has nothing to do with the air unit. But interesting though.

Then I looked on "Tainan Kokutai" which is well known combination of two words thanks to Mr. Sakai´s fame - I wonder how many average European or American readers of airwar history really understand what Tainan Kokutai means - we just tend to read it as some Japanese basic air unit of which we have some vague idea. My impression was a long time that it was more or less same as the British/US "squadron", but the unit´s nominal strength is in wiki mentioned to be about 60 aircraft in 1941 - so I would say that it is a "air group" or "air regiment" consisting of some squadrons (and what those were in Japanese? Sentais? IJAAF Kokutai composed by X number of Sentais each consisting nominally of 10-15 planes?)

Things are certainly not more simple taking in account also IJAAF definitions. To my knowledge Sentai is a air regiment consisting of several squadrons - chutais - which in turn are composed by three patrols of three planes which in turn are called shotais (and to my understanding the patrol of three planes - shotai - was also a the smallest operational unit of IJNAAF).

So if I have understood it more or less right, theoretically it went something like this:
shotai - a patrol of 3 aircraft - same in IJAAF and IJNAF
chutai - a squadron of 3 or more shotais in IJAAF
sentai - air group/regiment of 3 or more chutais in IJAAF, but in IJNAf it was just a rough equivalent of chutai of IJAAF
kokutai - air group/regiment of IJNAF consisting of sentai´s of squadron strength and thus more or less same as the sentai of IJAAF

There were other terms for bigger units. IIRC, Hikodai or Hikodan was in IJAAF a unit consisting of several sentais.

Anyway I think that Japan-in-WW2 -related books intended for a common public or "Average Joe" should have small basic dictionary of those Japanese words/special terms which are frequently used. It should not bee too difficult to make some more or less workable and easy-to-understand translation. Not more difficult than it is to translate in English such German terms as Staffel, Gruppe and Geshcwader.

When it comes to the differences of nominal and real combat strength of air units, that was a problem of every air force during the war - only rarely there were planes and pilots in combat units to make it up to 100 % nominal strength.

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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by Ken_Q » 03 Aug 2016 23:54

I have the start of a Japanese-English glossary with terms taken from Creswell, TM 30-541, TM 30-481 and several other sources. Currently consists of around 26,000 entries and would like to share with the group. It is a work in progress and needs to be proofread but I thought it might be useful to some in its current state. It is a large file and my PDF converter is not working. I can break it down into sections and email to anyone who is interested. I also would welcome any comments, additions, etc. Below is a sample which looks slightly different from the actual file. (Notice I used the older versions of kanji to reflect wartime usage)

airokō, n. 隘路口 gorge of a defile
airo shinshutsu, n. 隘路進出 debouching from a defile
airozen, n. 隘路前 front of a defile
aisatsu, n. 挨拶 compliment
ai-taiji suru, v. 相對峙 face or confront each other
aite, n. 相手(對手) adversary
aite koku, n. 相手國 enemy country; country with which we are at war
aitōfu, n. 哀悼譜 dead march
Aizawa Jiken, n. 相澤事件 Aizawa Incident (12 August 1935)
aizu, n. 合圖 signal; sign
aizu suru, v. 合圖する signal
Ajia, n. 亞細亞 Asia
Ajiajin no Ajia, exp. 亞細亞人の亞細亞 Asia for the Asiatics
akari, n. 明り light; illumination; glow; gleam
akatsuki, n. 曉 sunrise; dawn
aki, n. 秋 autumn
akichi, n. 空き地 open ground; clearing
akugeki, n. 悪撃 violent attack
akusen, n. 悪戰 hard fight
akusen kutō, n. 悪戰苦鬪 hard fight; bitterly fought action
ākutō, n. アーク燈 arc lamp
amagaitō, n. 雨外套 raincoat
amagappa, n. 雨合羽 poncho
Amakasu Jiken, n. 甘粕事件 Amakasu Incident
amaniyu, n. 亜麻仁油 linseed oil
amaoi, n. 雨覆 waterproof; cape (of officer)
amaoi rempeijō, n. 雨覆練兵場 drill hall
amaoi shagekijō, n. 雨覆射撃場 indoor range
amba, n. 鞍馬 riding horse
ambi, n. 鞍尾 cantle
ambu, n. 鞍部 saddle (topography) ; col (topography)
ame, n. 雨 rain
amiage, n. 編上 laced ankle boots
amiage gutsu, n. 編上靴 laced ankle boots
amiage kyahan, n. 編上脚絆 laced legging
amigata, n. 網形 net-type
amigata tetsujōmō, n. 網形鐵條網 net-type wire entanglement (usual arrangement)
amihimo, adj. 編紐 braid (general)
amisen, n. 編線 braided wire (aviation)

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Hama
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by Hama » 06 Aug 2016 13:06

Some of these are more slang than official, but here are a few that I know:

Akatsuki butai (曉部隊): 'Dawn unit', Imperial Army shipping units.

Hizoku (匪賊): 'Bandit', used for anti-Japanese guerillas.

Yochin (ヨーチン): 'Tincture of Iodine', this was used as name for medics.

Sora no shinpei (空の神兵): Something like 'God soldiers of the sky'. Name for Army paratroopers. Comes from a song name.

Imozuru (芋蔓): Refers to sweet potato vines, was used as name for signalmen because of the similarity between vines and telephone wires.

Ken_Q
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by Ken_Q » 13 Aug 2016 01:35

These terms are not found in any of the dictionaries consulted, so these are some good additions to the list.

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Hama
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by Hama » 18 Aug 2016 15:04

Glad they were useful. :)

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Wellgunde
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by Wellgunde » 19 Aug 2016 12:15

Dongame 鈍亀 (dull turtle) - Japanese submariner's self deprecating nickname for themselves. Similar in usage to U.S. submariners calling themselves "bubbleheads;" Okay for someone in the group to use it but not okay for outsiders.
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Akira Takizawa
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by Akira Takizawa » 19 Aug 2016 14:24

There was a similar example in the army, too.

First, tank was called Tetsu-gyu 鉄牛(Iron cattle) by Japanese media. But, tankers complained of this nickname, because it suggested that tank was slow like cattle. They requested to call tank as Tetsu-jishi 鉄獅子(Iron lion) and it was later called so.

Taki

peter007
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by peter007 » 14 Apr 2017 03:31

How to say "Never retreat" in japanese

EastF
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by EastF » 30 Jul 2017 14:46

I have an obscure diary entry and acronym I haven't seen before. Author was probably an IJN gunner assigned to an AA unit on Biak

"We became an SNLP after the completion of our duties."

May be some translation or transcription issues as I don't have the original document but have not heard of SNLP before. They has Special Naval Landing Forces SNLF.

hortones
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by hortones » 09 Mar 2018 03:16

Would harakiri fit here somewhat? Many Japanese soldiers did it when they lost during the WW2.

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Wellgunde
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by Wellgunde » 12 Mar 2018 05:37

hortones wrote:Would harakiri fit here somewhat? Many Japanese soldiers did it when they lost during the WW2.
Probably not. harakiri is not a military term since it was performed by civilians as well as military personnel. Harakiri is the term most used in the west for Japanese ritual suicide. I don't ever recall hearing a Japanese use harakiri either conversationally or in any other situation. The Japanese commonly refer to it as seppuku. Seppuku was outlawed in 1873 although the practice has continued from time to time up to the present. A notable example was General Nogi (of Russo-Japanese war fame) who committed seppuku in 1912 in order to follow the late Emperor Meiji. A recent case was Olympic medalist Inokuma Isao..
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Truckman
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Re: Glossary of Japanese Military Terms

Post by Truckman » 14 Oct 2018 19:55

Kaijo Torraku for the JIN Sea Trucks... :milsmile: ...Ben

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