Illustration of Bugler [Private Kiguchi Kohei] from the series Sino-Japanese War Picture Book


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Illustration of Bugler [Private Kiguchi Kohei] 

from the series Sino-Japanese War Picture Book

by Yukawa Hiromitsu, 1894

Illustration of the Fierce Important Battle of Seonghwan from the series Sino-Japanese War Picture Book

IHL Cat. #2428

About This Print

While the title does not mention the name of the bugler being depicted in this print, it must be the storied Army Private Kiguchi Kohei, who was hit by an enemy bullet and died with his bugle still at his lips during the battle of Songhwan on July 24, 1894. The strange story behind this famous bugler is that he was first misidentified as Shirakami Genjirō, another soldier, but not a bugler, who had died in the same battle. The error did not become clear until a funeral for Shirakami with over 400 guests had taken place. 

Once the true name of the heroic bugler became clear, he would enter the pantheon of heroes who gave their lives for the Emperor and Japan, as described in this passage from an elementary-school ethics book for second-grade students published in 1903:
Kiguchi Kohei was not the least bit afraid before the enemy. He bravely sounded the call to advance on his bugle three times. Inspired by his brave example, our troops attacked and defeated the enemy, but Kiguchi was hit by a bullet and fell to the ground mortally wounded. Later they found his body with the bugle still at his lips.1
This print, as opposed to almost all other Sino-Japanese War prints, was published in Ōsaka rather than in Tokyo. Its publisher Ōbuchi Wataru of the publishing house Hatsubai Shinshindō was primarily a book publisher and this print was part of a twelve print gafu (picture book), a portfolio titled Sino-Japanese War Picture Book,  the envelope for which is shown below.

Envelope for the series Sino-Japanese War Picture Book
image source: Penn Museum 17719M

To see more prints of the Sino-Japanese War including the Battle of Pyongyang see the article Sino-Japanese War Prints (1894-1895).

1 "Japan's Last War: World War II and the Japanese, 1931-1945, Sabur Ienaga, Australian Nation University Press, Canberra, 1979  p. 24

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Illustration of Bugler [Private Kiguchi Kohei] 
 Series Title Sino-Japanese War Picture Book 日清戦争画譜 Nishin sensō gafu
 Artist Yukawa Hiromitsu (active c. 1894)
Hiromitsu 広
 Seal unread seal (see above)
 Publication Date
October 18, 1894 (Meiji 27) [printed October 14, 1894]
Ōbuchi Wataru 大淵涉 of the Ōsaka 大阪 publishing house Hatsubai Shinshindō  發賣駸々堂
[click on image to enlarge]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - small hole upper right corner
 Format shikishiban
 H x W Paper 
 9 9/16 x 8 1/4 in. (24.3 x 21 cm) 
 H x W Image
 9 3/16 x 7 3/8 in. (23.3 x 18.7 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Penn Museum University of Pennsylvania 17719B
last revision:
4/8/2021 created