IJN battleship “Mikasa”, c. 1910.

1920sNotable LandmarkPatriotism/MilitaryTechnology
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Admiral Togo & the battleship Mikasa, c. 1910.

“Admiral Togo and his flag-ship ‘Mikasa‘,” c. 1910, constructed at Vickers shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, UK, in 1898. After the Sino-Japanese War (1895), the Imperial Japanese Navy promulgated a ten-year naval build-up program with the construction of six battleships and six armored cruisers at its core. Lacking the technology and capability at the time to construct its own battleships, Japan turned to the United Kingdom for construction of the battleships. The design of Mikasa was a modified version of the Formidable-class battleships of the UK Royal Navy.

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Japanese curry, Officer’s mess, Battleship Mikasa, c. 1906.

MIKASA, a Japanese battleship that took part in the Russo-Japanese War. She was the only ship built of the planned Mikasa-class and the final battleship completed of the 1896 naval program … Considered the world’s most powerful battleship of her time, Mikasa belonged to the leading 1st Battle Division of the First Fleet at the outbreak of the war. As the flagship of Admiral Togo Heihachiro and the whole Combined Fleet, she took part in all of the major naval operations of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Russo-Japanese War.”

The A to Z of the Russo-Japanese War, by Rotem Kowner, 2009

Battleship Mikasa forward 12-inch (305mm) main gun turret, c. 1910.

“In 1905, when the Japanese outfought the Russians, notably in Admiral Togo’s victory over the Baltic fleet in the straits of Tsushima between Japan and Korea, they still had not mastered the technology of building a battleship. Togo’s flagship Mikasa had been built and armed, like all Japanese capital ships to this point, by British companies. Today, thanks for extraordinary circumstances and effort the Mikasa, once sunk, once almost scrapped, and at one point made into a dance hall, has been restored berthed at Yokosuka alongside a statue of Togo Heihachiro.

“This denoument owes much to Japanese patriotic sentiment, which made the decommissioned vessel into a memorial in 1926, but its postwar reconstruction was sparked, surprisingly, by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, vanquisher of the Imperial Navy and witness to Japan’s surrender aboard the battleship Missouri in 1945. Nimitz, it turned out, had admired Togo since his days as a midshipman and had never forgotten his brief, cordial meeting with the admiral at a Tokyo garden party in the summer of 1905. In 1934 he represented the U.S. Navy at the admiral’s funeral. Consequently, soon after arriving in Yokosuka in 1945, Nimitz paid a visit to the Mikasa and ordered a guard on board to prevent looting. (Already the Russians were reported to have reclaimed their surrender flag.)”

Meiji Revisited: The Sites of Victorian Japan, by Dallas Finn, 1995

From the wiki: “Mikasa is a pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the late 1890s, and was the only ship of her class. Named after Mount Mikasa in Nara, Japan, the ship served as the flagship of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō throughout the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, including the Battle of Port Arthur on the second day of the war and the Battles of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima.

“During the Battle of Tsushima, Mikasa was the focus of the Russian fire as the leading ship in the Japanese column, and was hit more than 40 times by large 12- and 6-inch shells but none did serious damage to her structure.

“Six days after the Treaty of Portsmouth ended the Russo-Japanese War, Mikasa sank at her moorings after a fire and magazine explosion at Sasebo on the night of 11/12 September 1905 that killed 251 crewmen. She was refloated, reconstructed and repaired at Sasebo. During World War I, Mikasa served on coast-defence duties, based at Maizuru. The ship supported the Japanese intervention in Siberia during the Russian Civil War during 1921 and was reclassified on 1 September 1921 as a first-class coast-defence ship.

Mikasa was decommissioned on 23 September 1923 following the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and scheduled for destruction. However, at the request of the Japanese government, each of the signatory countries to the treaty agreed that Mikasa could be preserved as a memorial ship with her hull encased in concrete.

“On 12 November 1926, Mikasa was opened for display in Yokosuka in the presence of the then-Crown Prince, Prince Hirohito, and retired Admiral Tōgō.

Battleship Mikasa, c. 1926.

The museum ship Mikasa, c. 1926, after its installation in concrete and opening at Yokosuka.

“Following the surrender of Japanese forces in 1945, the museum ship deteriorated under control of the Occupation forces, but was restored after another campaign led by the Japan Times and retired US Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz that allowed the ship to reopen in 1961.

“Now one of three World Memorial Ships (along with HMS Trafalgar and USS Constitution), Mikasa is the last remaining example of a pre-dreadnought battleship anywhere in the world.”

Officer’s mess, Mikasa, ca. 1906.

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