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Yoshimoto Kōzō’s Photographs of the Russo–Japanese War

Yoshimoto Kōzō’ssometimes also used the name “Yoshimoto Mitsuzō”
Photographs of the Russo–Japanese War

Yoshimoto Kōzō (November 16, 1863–June 11, 1907) was a naval officer during the Meiji period. In June 1878, he was selected at the age of 14 officially to enlist in the Imperial Japanese Navy as one of the first ten students to be trained for the naval musical band. From March 1879, he received instruction in German-style military music from foreign government adviser Franz Eckert (1852–1916). The navy had been trained in British-style military music ever since English army bandmaster John William Fenton (1831–1890) had started instructing samurai warriors from the Satsuma domain and until he left Japan in 1877. Thus, Yoshimoto belonged to the first generation that received exclusively German musical training from the very beginning. Besides his main instrument, the clarinet, he also learned to play the piano and studied subjects such as composition and arranging.

In 1880 (Meiji 13), Yoshimoto became a naval musician and then advanced to become a naval music teacher; finally, he became a naval bandmaster in 1894. At the Tokyo Music School in April 1896, Yoshimoto gave a guest performance of the second movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet K.581 with piano accompaniment by Kōda Nobu. On May 13, 1899, he was ordered to go abroad to study in Germany, and he arrived in Berlin on August 20. The following October he entered the Berlin Conservatory of Music, but was ordered to return to Japan only a year and a half later, in March 1902 (Meiji 35), and arrived in Japan in June. That same year, he became naval bandmaster, a position equivalent to the officer rank of junior lieutenant, and during the Russo–Japanese War he served on board the Izumo, the flagship of the Second Battle Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy (December 28, 1903–March 15, 1905).

These materials comprise an album of 46 photographs taken by Yoshimoto during his service in the war. Yoshimoto himself added explanations to the photographs with the first one dated March 6, 1904.

Upon returning from victory in August 1905, the navy and army military bands started to give joint performances at the Hibiya Concert Hall, and Yoshimoto conducted the Yokosuka Marine Band 11 times up to May 1907 but died at the age of 45 on until 11 of that year.

The photograph album was donated to the historical archive of the Tokyo University of the Arts in July 2011 by Kikuchi Takeatsu, a relative of Yoshimoto Kōzō. There still exists published sheet music of Yoshimoto compositions, such as “Commemorative March for the Great Naval Review in Tokyo Bay” and Kimi Ga Yo (Japanese national anthem) March; handwritten sheet music for the “Military Song of Defeating the Qing,” arranged for wind instruments and for the national anthems of various countries; and a diary Yoshimoto wrote in German from around the end of his study period in Berlin until just after he returned to Japan. This diary is scheduled to be made available to the public.

For information about Yoshimoto Kōzō, see Tsukahara Yasuko, Hirataka Noriko, “Naval Bandmaster Yoshimoto Kōzō’s Diary of His Studies Abroad in Berlin,” Bulletin of the Faculty of Music, Tokyo University of the Arts, No. 37 (March 2012) 43–60; Tsukahara Yasuko “The Japanese Naval Band during the Russo–Japanese War: From the 1904–5 Diary of Naval Bandmaster Yoshimoto Kōzō,” Bulletin of the Faculty of Music, Tokyo University of the Arts, No. 40 (March 2015) 71–89; Tanimura Seijirō, The Program for the Hibiya Park Music Hall: Military Band Records That Shine in Japanese Wind Music History (Tsukubanesha, 2010).

Overview of Photograph Images

Images are available on  Wikimedia 

English Translation Consultant:Thomas Cressy
Contents developed by KAMURA,Tetsuro