Illustrated account of the Japanese-Chinese War; Nisshin Sento Gaho

1894-1895 (made)

Kubota Beisen

Width: 23 cm, Height: 17.8 cm

E.2531-1925 EAS

Set of 6 woodblock printed books (volumes 1-5 and 8; this illustration from volume 1) illustrating and detailing the evebnts of the Japanese-Chinese war

The illustration from Nisshin Sento Gaho ('Illustrated Account of the Japanese-Chinese War') shows a scene in which the Japanese forces are bombarding a Chinese encampment in the early days of the war between Japan and China. The war was formally declared on 1 August, 1894 and concluded with the Treaty of Shimonoseki on 17 April, 1895. Japan quickly defeated the much larger Chinese armies and became the strongest country in East Asia. It is from this point that the Japanese military began to have influence over decision-making in the government and began to push for expansion into the rest of Asia. Japan was now effectively a world superpower and began enacting its own imperialist expansion programme. In just over 25 years Japan had transformed itself from a feudal state run by the samurai into an industrialised society. With the slogan fukoku kyohei--'enrich the nation, strengthen the military'--Japan began to import western technology, especially in the fields of weaponry and from 1873 a conscript army was formed originally based on the French army, but after France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian wars (1870-71) by Germany this was changed to the Prussian system. Japan’s navy was modelled on the British navy and originally equipped largely with warships built in Britain. Western military advisors were in high demand to train the emerging Japanese Imperial Army. The last time traditional weaponry had been used in Japan was in 1877 during the Satsuma rebellion. In 20 years the transformation from warrior to soldier was complete. Interestingly, the western-style swords worn by the officers in this print would in fact have had traditional Japanese blades in them simply remounted in a western military style.

Location: In Storage

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