The Japanese army of 1904 was extremely formidable:  being modern in organisation; well-equipped;  and fanatically devoted to the Emperor.

It consisted of four field armies (under commanders Kuroki; Oku; Nogi and Nodzu), divided into the standing army or Jobi (consisting of the Active Army or Genyeki and the 1st Reserve or Yobi); the 2nd Reserve or Kobi; and the Conscript Reserve or Hoju.  In addition, there was a militia or National Army (Kukumin) consisting of ex-servicemen.  In all, Japan could field approximately 750,000 men.

The Jobi consisted of 12 line divisions and a division of Imperial Guard (although this increased to 17 divisions during the course of the war).  It also contained two cavalry brigades; two artillery brigades;  and significant support troops.


A Japanese Jobi division consisted of two infantry brigades; a cavalry regiment;  an artillery regiment;  an engineer battalion;  a telegraph company;  six field hospitals;  five ammunition columns (two for infantry; three for artillery);  and four supply columns.  In total:  11,400 infantry;  430 cavalry;  36 guns;  830 engineers;  and 5,500 non-combatants.

Each Jobi division had ten machine guns attached to during the autumn of 1904.  This was increased to fourteen before March 1905.

Each Jobi division had a Kobi (2nd Reserve) division assigned to it.  Although nominally this consisted of 3,500 infantry formed into two regiments of two battalions each; larger Kobi formations were formed consisting of two regiments of three battalions of infantry each, three batteries of artillery;  one company of engineers and appropriate supply and ammunition columns.


A Jobi infantry brigade consisted of two regiments.  Each regiment consisted of three battalions.  Each battalion consisted of 950 men, divided into four companies, each of three platoons.


The cavalry attached to an infantry division were formed into one regiment of three squadrons.  Each squadron had approximately 140 horse, giving 430 cavalry overall.

In addition to the attached cavalry, there were two reserve cavalry brigades, each of two regiments of four squadrons each i.e. each regiment numbered approximately 550 horse, and each reserve brigade therefore consisted of about 1100 cavalry.

Reserve cavalry brigades were also accompanied by a battery of six machine guns.


The artillery attached to an infantry divisionwere formed into one regiment of two battalions, with each battalion consisting of three batteries.  Each battery consisted of six guns, giving a regimental strength of 36 guns.

In addition to the attached artillery, there were two reserve artillery brigades, each containing three regiments.  A reserve regiment contained two battalions, each of three batteries of six guns.

Machine guns were organised into sections of two guns each:  with a section usually operating independently of any others attached to the same formation.


The engineer battalion attached to an infantry division consisted of three companies, and included a bridging train.



The infantry were armed with the 1900 pattern (Meiji 30th Year) 6.5 mm 5-shot magazine loading rifle, and a bayonet.  This rifle was sighted to 2000m., although tactics dictated that a rapid advance be made with no shooting between 2000m. and 1000m. from the enemy; short advances with covering fire be made down to about 500m.;  and then the enemy charged with the bayonet.


Cavalry were used as dragoons, and therefore carried a Carbine version of the infantry's rifle; a sword, and a revolver.


The standard Japanese field gun was the Arisaka:  a 2.95" calibre piece that could fire shrapnel or HE shells approximately 5000 yards.  The Guard, 1st-4th, 6th and Kobi divisions were issued with Arisaka's.

The 5th, 8th-12th divisions were armed with a mountain gun of a similar calibre, but with a slightly shorter range.

Reserve brigades also included batteries of 4.72 inch howitzers.

The standard machine gun was the Hotchkiss, carried on pack animals or wheeled transport.



Infantry wore a dark winter uniform of blue tunic and trousers, both with red piping.  Headgear was a round, dark blue, peaked cap, with a yellow band.  Equipment was black.

The summer uniform was either white or khaki, and often mixed with elements of the winter uniform.  The cap was soft, and often worn with a neck-cloth.


Same as for the infantry, but the jacket had hussar-like frogging in red, and the cap-band was also red.


Same as for the infantry, but with a dark cap band.


Japanese troops were of good quality:  both in term of morale and fighting ability, although their tactics emphasised the use of the bayonet a little too much.