My Display Wins First Prize—Twice!
The first public display of my
collection was at the Alberta Arms and Cartridge Collectors Association (AACCA)
Spring Gun Show,
For 2005 I doubled the size of my
display from two to four tables (4 X 8’=32’). This involved building a bunch
more display cases and creating eight more display panels. The debut took place
at the Canadian Historial Arms Society Show in
The show was even larger this year,
with 544 tables. I can’t be absolutely sure, but I believe it is the largest gun
The first set of cases and display panels provided background on the soldiers who used these guns and the society they came from. The first panel was labelled “Cultivating Fanaticism” and discussed the militarization of pre-war Japanese society, with particular emphasis on the role of the Imperial Reservists’ Association (Teikoku zaigo gunjinkai). The second panel was entitled “Women and Youths” and covered the role of women’s organizations and the training centres and special schools set up to draw women and youths into this process of militarization. The third panel was entitled “A Japanese Soldier Goes to War” and dealt with the preparations his family made to wish him well as he headed off to do his service. The large banner on the right is a shussei nobori, or “send-off banner”, used in parades organized to send the new recruits off to war. The name on the banner is Mr. Toshimasa Kurita and the banner was a gift of the Tachibana Billiard Hall (small writing on the lower left of the banner).
The first display case had items from the Imperial Reservists’ Association (IRA) and other items reservists often had, such as rule books, reservists’ record books, a military qualification certificate, sake cups, service record bags, address tags (for sending civilian clothes home), a savings passbook and membership badges. In the lower left is the bereavement medal, certificate, service record book and valuables bag of a soldier who was killed in the China War. The IRA and related organizations organized funerals and assistance to bereaved families. Sorry for the reflections from the plexiglass in the cases.
The second case has items from women’s organizations and youth institutions. On the left are sashes, membership badges and a notebook from the Dai nippon aikoku fujinkai (Greater Japan Patriotic Women’s Association) and the Dai nippon kokubo fujinkai (Greater Japan Defense Women’s Association). The magazine in the centre shows a woman wearing the membership patch of the Dai nippon fujinkai (Greater Japan Women’s Organization), formed in 1942 from the merger of these and similar organizations. Just below it is such a cloth membership patch. On the right are record books, a bag, sake cup and membership pin from the youth organizations.
The theme of the items in the third case was “Supporting the Troops”. In the upper left are two imonbukuro (comfort bags) used to send gifts to the troops. In the upper right are photos of soldiers at send-off ceremonies and posing with their autographed “good luck” flags. Bottom right is a senninbari, or “thousand stitch belt”. In the lower left is an unfinished version of a similar item where they collected 1,000 versions of the character chikara, meaning power (this character is also pronounced riki). Both were supposed to bring good luck and protection in battle.
The next group of display panels relate to the guns themselves and Japanese handgun ammunition. From left to right, the panels are entitled: “Type 26 Revolver”, “Nambu-Type Pistols” (Grandpa, Papa & Baby), “Ammunition”, and “Type 14 Pistol”. Each was directly behind the case with the relevant items. Each type of handgun was displayed with items from the war in which it was the primary handgun used.
The Type 26 case had two pistols, one with original finish and one arsenal-rework, two holsters, a cleaning rod and various items from the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) and Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). These included R&R passes, sake cups, a silver one-yen coin dated Meiji 26, a record book from a soldier who won two medals in the Russo-Japanese War, service medals from the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars, and a phrase book from the Russo-Japanese war. It is unclear whether any Type 26s actually saw service during the Sino-Japanese War, but at least they were being finalized at that time. In the middle left is a modern ema, or prayer board, from Togo Jinja, a Shinto shrine in south-west Tokyo dedicated to the spirit of Admiral Togo, whose defeat of the Russian Baltic Fleet clinched Japan’s victory.
The Nambu-Type pistols were
state-of-the-art in WWI, when
The “Ammuntion” case uses bamboo mats for rolling sushi to keep the cartridges in place (neat, eh?). In the upper right are an original 15-round box of 8mm Nambu rounds and just below that, an empty 50-round box for .32ACP cartridges (called “cartridges for the medium-sized Mauser pistol” on the label).
Below that are a .22 conversion kit and ammo and component boxes from various post-war manufacturers.
The “Small Trigger-Guard Type 14”
was the most modern handgun the Japanese had during the campaigns in Manchuria
In the cente of the display was the
title board with an autographed “good-luck flag” (hinomaru yosegaki). To the right are display panels entitled “Type
14 Holsters”, “Kijiro Nambu:
The first one starts with leather Type 14 holsters. I have them in order of their type classfication according to JMCH by Dreby & Brown. The third one from the left shows the placement of the cleaning rod and spare stiker. I used a small block of two-by-four under the holster body when showing a holster open in order to keep it fairly flat and reduce the stress on the hinge.
This is the right side of that huge,
five-foot case. Besides the remaining leather Type 14 holsters, there is a
Japanese holster for the Model 1914 Mauser .32ACP pistol marked Showa 15
(1940). The Mauser was a popular private-purchase weapon among Japanese
officers. The lower right has three postcards from Japanese soldiers stationed
I also had a four-foot case for the rubberized canvas holsters. The holsters require a case six inches deep rather than the usual four if they are going to be shown open. At the top is a rubberized canvas shoulder strap.
The holster on the far right has a Showa 18.9 Toriimatsu First Series Type 14 in it to show one of the benefits of lanyard use: the guns fit so low in the holster it is hard to get a grip on them unless they are first pulled up a bit with the lanyard.
The last part of the display has
display panels labelled “Japanese Handgun Training and Usage” and “Type 94
Pistol”, as well as a TV/VCR set up to run videos on Japanese weapons and
The first case in this section shows Kokubunji Type 14s (“Nagoya Nambus”), including a 14.11 “transitional” (large trigger guard but no mag retention spring and still with 25-groove grips) in the upper left, 15.11 in the upper right and 19.6 “First Series”. Below that is a 15.12 disassembled to show the mechanism. Other items are an example of “bring-back” papers, three major variations of magazines (nickel, nickel with cut-out and blued), nickeled and blued cleaning rods, and medals from the three Orders often awarded to soldiers: the Order of the Sacred Treasure (8th class), Order of the Rising Sun (8th class) and the Order of the Golden Kite (7th class).
The Toriimatsu display case begins
with 18.6 First Series, a 19.1 Second Series with finely-knurled cocking knob, 19.5
with coarsely-knurled knob, 19.9 to show the left side, 19.11 and 20.5 with
slab grips (no grooves), and at the bottom, two 20.7 dates. These July, 1945
guns are referred to as “last ditch”. These two are the lowest serial number
for the month and the highest consecutive number for the month. In the lower
left is occupation scrip and a pair of one-yen war-time “savings certificates”.
The lower right has soldiers’ notebooks from this period, an anti-aircraft
defense volunteer’s pin, and a sake cup commemorating service in the “Greater
East Asia War”,
The final case has my two Type 94s, an 18.7 “off-date” and a 19.3. The second row has three major magazine variations (nickeled, blued with rectangular follower button and blued with round rectangular button) and a five-yen wartime bond. At the bottom are a cleaning rod, pigskin holster and leather holster with pigskin strap.
Here is me with my trophy.
The trophies always seem to have a Western theme to them. I kind of hope they didn’t buy this plaque just for me. The badge under the man’s photo says “Brothel Inspector” and the brass tokens under the woman’s photo are for “screws” at various houses of ill repute.
The pseudo-license at the bottom is in a similar vein. At least now if anyone ever sees me acting as a “Lewd and Abandoned Woman”, I can say I have a permit! Realistically, I doubt anyone gave any thought to the possibility a woman would win the prize or how inappropriate this would be in such an eventuality.
I got a lot of nice comments about my display, including from a Japanese woman who found it unusual that along with showing my guns I also attempted to explain the mindset of the times. Hopefully next year I will have even more pieces to show, although I don’t think I can make the display any bigger. It took me eight hours to set up after my husband and I spent an hour unpacking it, and then it took my husband and me two hours working together to get it torn down and packed up. That’s about as much time as there is for set-up and take-down, so unless I get a lot faster I guess it will be hard to do anything bigger.
At the show I did a little impromptu
translation for a few people with miscellaneous Japanese items (flags, sake
cups, etc.), got a lead on an original box of cartridges that’s already here in
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Last updated: April 2, 2005. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.