Original Imperial Japanese Army WWII Service Memories Personal Photo Album Featuring Emperor Hirohito - 63 Pictures

Item Description

Original Items: One-Of-A-Kind. Here we have a wonderful personal photo album with some professional shots as well as personal snapshots, many of which show members of the Imperial Japanese Army often in the field. There are also a good number of company or platoon photographs. These are held in place for the most part by glue, and while a total of sixty-four photographs may seem like a small amount for an album, we believe that this example is complete and not missing any photographs.

The pictures show all aspects of life while in the Imperial Japanese Military during the time. There are pictures of men training with rifles, marching, conducting parades and ceremonies, what appears to be change of command and retirement ceremonies, family and home life and many more!

A few of the pictures that stood out to use are one of Emperor Hirohito riding his “mythical” white horse, Shirayuki (Snow White) across a bridge with his cadre of leaders. Another picture is of what appears to be the caretaker of Shirayuki and the horse standing together, giving us an incredibly detailed look at the horse, something seldom seen! Another image that stood out was a unit picture taken at the beautiful Tokyo Hibiya Park. World War II took a toll on the park when almost all the trees and fencing was used for the war effort. The last picture that stood out took us completely by surprise. The picture is of what appears to be either American or European Naval musicians posting with their string instruments.

This is a wonderful album with some amazing and historical images giving us a glimpse into war time Japan as well as the Emperor himself! Comes ready to display.

Emperor Hirohito’s Horse
Prior to and during World War II, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito was shown in photos and newsreels riding a beautiful white stallion in front of his troops. The horse was part of his carefully cultivated image. Japanese tradition viewed the royal family as direct descendants of the Sun God. Pictures showing him laughing or smiling or those where he appeared shorter than the people around him were forbidden to be shown to the public. The Japanese people never even heard the sound of his voice until the surrender broadcast on August 14, 1945. Pictured on his white horse, Emperor Hirohito was a distant, godlike figure—a symbol of Imperialist Japan.

Though Emperor Hirohito’s white horse became a propaganda tool, the Japanese Empire’s equestrian links to the United States originated in friendship. In 1880 the Meiji Emperor graciously received President Ulysses Grant as a state guest. Upon the president's return, he ordered a magnificent stallion to be sent to the Emperor. The jet black horse was described as “the most beautiful horse that man ever laid eyes upon.” This equestrian alliance continued into the 20th century, when Shirayuki (White Snow), pictured being ridden by Hirohito, was shipped to Japan from California.

The symbol of the white horse caught the American imagination. Early in the war, United States Admiral William (Bull) Halsey vowed that one day he would ride Hirohito’s white horse through the streets of Tokyo. This soon became a rallying cry in the United States. It was even used in a campaign to sell war bonds. The United States was going to win the war and remove Emperor Hirohito from his high horse.

With his salty language and aggressive manner, Admiral Bull Halsey was the Navy’s equivalent of fighting general George Patton. In response to Halsey’s bond drive, a Portland businessman donated $5,000 to help bring the Emperor’s captured horse back to America for public displays.

At the end of the war, the public was clamoring for Admiral Halsey to ride Emperor Hirohito’s horse, as promised. The Reno Nevada Chamber of Commerce commissioned a saddle, bridle and martingale decorated with 166 silver pieces for Admiral Halsey to use on the horse. The members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe contributed a pair of buckskin beaded gauntlet gloves to be used with the saddle. These items are now on display at the United States Naval Academy Museum at Annapolis.

Halsey did ride a horse, but he wasn’t Emperor Hirohito’s white stallion, who remained private property of the Emperor. Instead, he rode another horse that was supplied by Major General William Chase, the commander of the First Cavalry Regiment. After reviewing the honor guard of the First Cavalry Regiment, he mounted the horse and rode slowly around the bivouac area on the outskirts of Tokyo.  It was an unscheduled affair, so he didn’t get to use the special saddle.  “Please don’t let me alone with this animal,” the Admiral said.  Upon dismounting, he grinned and said, “I was never so scared in my life.”
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