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, April 9-10, 2004, at the Round-up Centre on the Stampede Grounds here in Calgary, Alberta. It is Canada’s largest gun show, with approximately 500 tables, and I won one of eight “Judges’ Awards”, sort of like “Honourable Mention”. It was a small, seven-gun, two-table exhibit (for details, see:  Calgary 2004 Display   )

            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 Edmonton, February 12-13, 2005. By that time I had 16 guns. Edmonton, the provincial capital of Alberta, is about three hours’ drive north of Calgary--except we had car problems so it took us seven hours! The show is average in size, about 200 tables. I won Best in Show. Here is me with my trophy, which was mounted in a nicely-lacquered box clock.

            The Calgary show is held on Easter weekend, which fell early in 2005. Set-up was Thursday, March 24 and then the show ran Friday-Saturday, March 25-26. By this time I had bought a small collection of six guns and two I was importing from the USA arrived, so I was up to 24 guns, but the display cases and panels were the same, so I will just show the details of the Calgary display.

            The show was even larger this year, with 544 tables. I can’t be absolutely sure, but I believe it is the largest gun show in Canada. I won Best in Show, which came with a cheque for C$750 (=US$600). The judging was done by five independent judges, one of whom was a female reporter with the Calgary Herald. Another was a curator at the main museum in Calgary. The local CFCN Evening News covered the show on TV, including shots of my display and mention that it won first prize. Here is an overall shot of the display. The table skirt is burlap, which was also used to line the cases and as background in the display panels.


            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 Japan was on the Allied side. The service medals in the upper left are for the early part of the war, when Japan seized Germany’s Pacific possessions, while the one n the right also covers the period when Japan sent a small force to the Mediterranean and intervened in Siberia against the Bolshevik Revolution. The photo in the upper right shows Grandpa Nambu serial number one, which belongs to Mr. Shin Nimura (I don’t have a Grandpa Nambu, and I don’t even know if there is one in Canada, so a photo is the best I could do). Below the Papa and spare mag are my two Baby Nambus (both Tokyo Arsenal), two Baby Nambu holsters and spare mag and cleaning rod. The sake cups in the middle are from the Siberian Expedition, the Navy (since most Papas were used by the Navy), and the 80th Regiment, which served in Taegu, Korea in the late 1920s-early 30s. The dog tag in the lower right sits atop a class list of the Officer’s School class of 1919 and indicates that in 1931 Captain (later Major) Fukuzo Kimura was serving with that regiment in Korea. The collar insignia in the lower left are from a second lieutenant.


            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 (1931-34) and China (1937-45). The guns are a 4.2 date Tokyo; 11.1 date Kokubunji; 12.3 date Kokubunji and a 13.10 date Kokubunji. They are accompanied by a manual showing the stance for shooting a small trigger guard Type 14, and an original period photo of a soldier shooting one; a record book from a soldier who fought in the China War, service medals for the Manchurian and Chinese campains, currency overstamped “military use” for use in China, and sake cups from the Manchurian and Chinese Campaigns. You may have noticed the brass rods in the barrels. I had three levels of security. First, each gun had a special locking device which I designed and had my husband Stephen make (he’s a handy guy to have around!). The brass rod fits in from the breech end and then a lock fits through a hole in the end that sticks out the muzzle. Second, each case was locked. Third, all the cases were locked to the table with a length of plastic-coated wire rope.    


            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: Japan’s John Browning?”, and “Frequently Asked Questions”. The cases underneath show Type 14 holsters.


            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 in China.


            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 Japan in WWII. The document holder on top of the TV lists the videos and indicates which one is playing. The one to the left of the TV is a “Did You Know?” listing facts about Japanese attacks on North America and what Canada’s involvement was in the Pacific War. The one to the right of the TV/VCR explains how I came to collect Japanese handguns, a question I was frequently asked.


            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”, Japan’s wartime term for the Pacific 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 Canada as well as some loose rounds, and connected with another woman in Calgary who has a Nambu. She inherited it when her husband passed away and I will probably end up acquiring it from her. I bought a knee mortar round and a 6.5mm gallery round, was given some small-denomination occupation scrip from the Philippines and a German magazine with an article on Nambus written by a friend I have corresponded with in Germany, and opened a few eyes to the wide world of Nambus. All in all, not a bad weekend!


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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.