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Illustration of Battalion Military Drill

Utagawa Kuniteru II (1830-1874)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Illustration of Battalion Military Drill

by Utagawa Kuniteru II, 1867

Mansei Bridge from the series Pride of Tokyo Area, Comparison

IHL Cat. #2073

About This Print

Issued during the last months of the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate, in September 1867, this print shows a modernized battalion of Western-style infantry units undergoing field drills, likely on one of the parade grounds newly re-opened by French military advisors.

Tokugawa Military Reforms - Too Little, Too Late
Sources: Samurai to Soldier: Remaking Military Service in Nineteenth-Century Japan, D. Colin Jaundrill, Cornell University Press, 2016, p. 80-85 and "The 'Modern' Army of Early Meiji Japan" by Hyman Kublin appearing in The Far Eastern Quarterly, Nov., 1949, Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 20-41.

In the waning years of the over 260 years of Tokugawa shogunate rule (1603-1867), the shogunate government began to reform its military in an overdue response to Commodore Perry's 1853-1854 Black Ships steaming into Edo Bay and its concern over the rebellious southeastern domains of Chōshū and Satsuma. As part of the Keiō reforms of 1866-1867, the "Tokugawa leaders made a last-ditch effort to reestablish the shogunate's military supremacy against the threat from loyalist domains."  Looking to France for assistance, a French military mission was invited to Japan and arrived at the end of 1866, establishing a military school at Yokohama. 

By the time the Boshin War (January 27, 1868-June 27, 1869) broke out, leading to the fall of the shogunate and restoration of the Emperor, thousands of troops and their leaders had undergone training. Unfortunately for the shogunate, many of those troops were from the anti-Tokugawa domains of Chōshū and Satsuma who would go on to spearhead the assaults on the Tokugawa armies that were to bring the Emperor, and his loyalists, to power in January 1868. 

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Illustration of Battalion Military Drill
 大隊調練圖 Daitai chōren [no] zu
 Artist Utagawa Kuniteru II (1830-1874)
Kuniteru ga 貞重画
 Seal (Artist) none
 Publication Date
September 1867 
aratame censor seal 卯九改 rabbit 9
Kagaya Kichibei 加賀屋
seal reading: 吉 両国 加ゞや Kichi Ryōgoku Kagaya
[Marks: pub. ref. 194; seal 22-024]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - trimmed to image; rubbing and soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format horizontal oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 13 5/8 x 9 in. (34.6 x 22.9 cm) approx. each sheet
 H x W Image 13 5/8 x 9 in. (34.6 x 22.9 cm) approx. each sheet

 Collections This Print
last revision:
12/1/2020 created