Imperial Japanese Army dress uniform

Discussions on Axis uniforms, headgear and insignia. Hosted by John G & William Kramer.
User avatar
Lawrence
Member
Posts: 715
Joined: 02 Apr 2002 02:12

Imperial Japanese Army dress uniform

Post by Lawrence » 03 Oct 2004 23:03

Greetings gentlemen,

I have a question; I've displayed three images below of Emperor Hirohito in a dressy tunic. He wears the same uniform in a very famous video clip while he's riding his white horse. I've also seen many Army officers wearing this style uniform, for ceremonial events. I've seen Naval officers wear a similar style tunic.

My question is was this particular uniform a ceremonial dress for the Army? If so, what was it worn for and when? Best regards.

Image

Image

Image

User avatar
Lawrence
Member
Posts: 715
Joined: 02 Apr 2002 02:12

Post by Lawrence » 17 Oct 2004 02:53

Anyone?

User avatar
Sewer King
Member
Posts: 1711
Joined: 18 Feb 2004 04:35
Location: northern Virginia

Post by Sewer King » 18 Oct 2004 03:27

H.I.M. Hirohito is wearing Army full-dress in these photos, same as that of other officers without especial distinctions as head of state, unlike the other Axis leaders.

The cut of the full-dress uniform dates back through the Taisho era, 1912-26. The peaked cap is probably based on that of the French Army kepi, where rank was also shown with successively more gold lace. For parade wear, white-and-red plumes were also worn upright on top of it. The earliest Imperial Army uniforms from the 1870s had been based on the French pattern. Although the braided-cord shoulder straps look German and the looped cuff lace looks Austrian.

These and similar photos are relatively common, but I can't make out clearly what military rank the Emperor held at the time. He seems to be a field-grade officer, but of what arm-of-service is not plain -- that should be given by the color underlay of the standing collar. Nor can I identify his orders and decorations, though I expect some to be related to the Household.

What English-language guides there are to Imperial Japanese uniform focus mainly on the wartime field wear. At least, the ones available to me. Even these have comparatively fewer photos than equivalent books on other armies' uniforms. Full-dress gets mentioned but not described in detail.

The one Japanese-published book I have is something of a standard, Imperial Japanese Army and Navy Uniforms and Equipment by Takao Nakata and Thomas B. Nelson (Hong Kong: Chesa Ltd, revised first edition 1987). Its text and diagrams are in Japanese, and their attached English translation is very limited and basic. Some Army dress uniforms of the same type worn here by the Emperor are shown in color photos. But they are only described in passing in the English text. If the Japanese text tells more I don't know.

I'll try to get more if someone more knowledgeable doesn't do better first. Japanese uniform does not draw the collector's interest as much as the German, especially when there's much less of its plainer-looking items to be found. It's like the North Vietnamese uniform -- there are collector examples, but no great general draw there either. One author added that the smaller sizes of simple North Vietnamese uniforms, plain and partly ChiCom in origin, also made them less interesting. And less collected.

This lack of detail info on Imperial uniform is in great contrast to the interest in Japanese swords, of which there are far more overseas than in Japan itself. Who anywhere claims a large collection of original uniform? There may be someone, or some who have good selections. But except maybe for the book above, it hasn't been studied in print and photo that I know of.

Compare it also to the large amount of original uniform regulations still available for German, British, French, or American uniforms. How much survives of Japanese regulations?

And even if there are collections, or administrative history and regulations -- are they in Japan? Researching original Japanese history at the source might be a steep and discouraging effort, even if you're fluent in the language. And assuming you can spend the time, money, travel, and connections to do so.

Still, I hope someone else can speak with more authority, and maybe even some sources.

There are some excellent modelings of original Imperial Japanese uniform in back issues of the now-defunct Anglo-French Militaria magazine from the 1980s-90s. But none I saw were for full-dress. Again, only service dress, field uniform, and field equipment.

As a matter of interest, some commonly reproduced illustrations of Japanese field uniform and equipment -- paratroopers, naval infantry -- turn out to be drawn from the photos in the Nakata-Nelson book.

User avatar
Sewer King
Member
Posts: 1711
Joined: 18 Feb 2004 04:35
Location: northern Virginia

Post by Sewer King » 04 Nov 2004 04:47

Here's some small collector's interest in Imperial Army full-dress:

http://www.snyderstreasures.com/pages/japanmilitaria.htm

The contemporary photos are of the most interest, but the seller makes the point that full-dress sets are not very commonly available.

Considering how much response this thread got, it's understandable why Japanese militaria has less authority and interest than that of other nations. Unfortunately.

User avatar
Sewer King
Member
Posts: 1711
Joined: 18 Feb 2004 04:35
Location: northern Virginia

Post by Sewer King » 07 Nov 2004 06:48

Another reference which I'd like to get a copy of:

Nakanishi, Riita. Japanese Military Uniforms 1841-1929. Volume 1. Tokyo: Dia Nippon Kaiga Co, Ltd, 1999(?) Bilingual, Japanese and English.

_____________. Japanese Military Uniforms 1930-1945. Volume 2.

I saw this book mentioned in a modeler's magazine review. The few illustrations shown in the article are of the Imperial dress uniforms, but reportedly the books are well-photgraphed as well. For those not familiar with "Japlish" the translation is said to come out slightly odd in places. But if the books are as good as they seem, nothing of value should have been lost.

The books have a British distributor in Armour Distribution (Accurate Armour Ltd), Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, Scotland. US distributor is RZM Imports Inc, Southbury, Connecticut.

zstar
Member
Posts: 157
Joined: 15 Oct 2004 06:32
Location: as

Post by zstar » 12 Nov 2004 11:43

Image
As you can see even puppet emperor puyi wore it so it was a uniform for top officals.

User avatar
Lawrence
Member
Posts: 715
Joined: 02 Apr 2002 02:12

Post by Lawrence » 12 Nov 2004 17:16

Thank you to all your replies. After researching a bit more, I think the Cermonial uniform in question, is a dressy version of the old 19th century dark blue Army uniform. The original uniform, used during the 1877 Civil War with Takamori Saigo. This consisted of a dark blue tunic, blue trousers with red stripes, and a blue kepi; similar to the French uniform. Before the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, the Japanese modified their uniforms slightly, wearing white gaiters and switching to a pillbox styled cap, similar to shakos. This uniform was worn up until the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, until casualties mounted considerably, prompting the Japanese to adopt a khaki version.

I believe the uniform in question, the one Hirohito is wearing, is a modified dress version of the old dark blue uniform of the Sino-Japanese War. It's modified a bit, i.e. a plume feather is sticking out of the pillbox cap, shoulderboards are added, the tunic is piped with gold, etc, but it's basically the same design worn back in 1894. I've seen the cermonial uiniform worn occasionally throughout the 1920's and 1930's; but only in parade and ceremonial events; i.e. New Years celebrations, Hirohito assuming the throne, etc. I believe this uniform was hung on to and worn only on extremely important events. The Japanese had a dress khaki version, worn to dinner parties, or walking out; which was basically the same as the khaki service uniform, but with straight trousers and dress shoes.

To an extent, it seems similar to the US Army dress blue uniform worn today, which had its roots back in the 19th Century US Calvary uniforms, simply worn out of tradition. It seems the Japanese clung to traditions too.

User avatar
Sewer King
Member
Posts: 1711
Joined: 18 Feb 2004 04:35
Location: northern Virginia

Post by Sewer King » 14 Nov 2004 06:22

That is the progression of most modern army uniform over the last 150 years.

The colorful or relatively colorful uniforms of the first half of the 19th century were worn in action, until drab field service uniforms began to replace them in the second half. British Army colonial service led this trend.

During WW2 truly utilitarian battle dress began to be developed, led by the Americans who distinguised between service and combat uniforms. The drab field uniform evolved into service dress and the older colorful uniform became full-dress.

It's hard to imagine this trend going on over the decades. The high-tech battle dress now in test (and vaguely resembling spacesuits) would take over as field wear. Then would the various camouflage uniforms of today evolve into service dress? And the service dress go on to become full-dress?

I haven't seen that recent movie The Last Samurai, except for a few stills of battle scenes. Some of the dark blue uniforms from Saigo's time were in them.

What could be the various decorations worn by Henry P'u-yi? I assume at least some of them were Japanese diplomatic orders.

Some armies have taken the tack of dressing "up" the service dress for finer-than-usual occasions. When I was in the US Air Force, I felt slightly silly dressing up the blue service dress with a white shirt and black bowtie. The officer's mess dress coat and white-tie is more formal but seems more natural.

Other armies dressed "down" their full-dress for less-than finest occasions, as the Germans did with their Waffenrock for walking-out. It seems to me that Americans who first hear the term "walking-out" stumble over the idea a little, because they would simply wear their service dress.

JockCampbell41
Member
Posts: 177
Joined: 17 Nov 2008 20:35

Re: Imperial Japanese Army dress uniform

Post by JockCampbell41 » 08 Nov 2011 05:41

Would anyone know what kind of trousers Emperor Hirohito would wear when wearing this blue full dress uniform? There's a lot of pictures of the tunic itself but this often obscures the pants. I read in Japanese Military Uniforms 1841-1929 that when he became emperor he was entitled to wear a field marshal's full dress uniform with a double thick and double thin stripe on the sleeve and same for the pants, or something like that. I'm wondering if they looked like German Field Marshal's breeches, the thick red stripe and a thin one in the middle.

Would anyone know?
JC41

West Side
Member
Posts: 4
Joined: 17 Aug 2010 23:29

Re: Imperial Japanese Army dress uniform

Post by West Side » 02 Mar 2013 03:16

That's a Taireifuku, they'd be wearing slacks with stripes like you said (double thick and double thin stripe on the sleeve) with that.

I always see a bunch when I go to Yasukuni flea market, here's an Engineers one I saw last week. Those things cost a pretty penny though!
Image
Image
Image
Image

A bit of a problem with IJA collecting, which started in the 70's in the Kansai region is that people generally tend to keep information among themselves (although you can and do find the uniform regulations pretty often at old book stores and antique markets) and not as much of it is written down. However there are books on IJA EM/NCO gear regulations and there are surviving regulation booklets about officers as well as the info one can garner from anecdote (increasingly hard to get) and photographs.

Plus not as much of it is online, and what online resources do exist are usually on text-only anonymous imageboards and personal websites which can be sketchy. Basically you kinda have to be there or have the physical book to "get it" while with German you can get quite a bit of info from sites like this.

User avatar
jwsleser
Member
Posts: 1048
Joined: 13 Jun 2005 14:02
Location: Leavenworth, KS

Re: Imperial Japanese Army dress uniform

Post by jwsleser » 02 Mar 2013 04:18

My interest is the RJW, so I have a copy of Nakanishi's Japanese Military Uniforms 1841-1929.

This drawing of General Nogi and an infantry colonel is from page 43. The book is oversize so it is a bit too big for my scanner. The following pages have draws of the uniform details and the changes over time.

Jeff
NogiDressUniform.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
battaglione Alpini sciatori Monte Cervino (Reenacted)
5th Greek Regiment
9th reggimento bersaglieri

Return to “Axis Uniforms, Headgear & Insignia”