Emperor Meiji at the Grand Fleet Review, 1905.

1900sHistoric EventsImperial HouseholdPatriotism/Military
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Grand Fleet Review, 1905. A postcard reproduction of Painting #73, on display at the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery.

See also:
Meiji Shrine Outer Garden & Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery under construction, c. 1925.
Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).
Final Imperial Japanese Navy Fleet Review, 1940.

“The high point of Togo’s triumphal return occurred on 21 October [1905], when the navy choreographed the most impressive naval review in Japan’s history to date. Held off the coast of Yokohama, the naval extravaganza intermixed commemoration of Japan’s sacrifices in the war with a celebration of the navy’s maritime successes and power.

“… Assembled in Yokohama harbor were 146 warships and twelve large transport vessels, arranged in six impressive lines that measured approximately five miles long and more than two miles across. Resplendent with bunting, formal dress, and smartly dressed sailors and officers, it was apparent to all who viewed these lines of warships that Japan’s fleet had indeed returned home as victors.

“The political component of the review took center stage in the program soon after the emperor arrived by train from Tokyo. Upon arrival, the Meiji emperor boarded the warship Asama to lead the review of the fleet. Once he was settled on the battleship, the navy directed political dignitaries, journalists, and select civilians to board the Manshu Maru and the Yawata Maru, transport vessels specifically decorated with captured Russian military spoils. These vessels closely followed the Asama as it steamed through and around the warship lines.

“… When these review ships completed their formal, highly ritualized inspection, a process that took upwards of three hours, the navy announced that civilian vessels could, if they would do so in an orderly fashion, likewise inspect the ships of the line, a proclamation met with widespread enthusiasm.”

Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, and the Emergence of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868-1922, by J. Charles Schencking, 2005

Triumphal Naval Review, November 1905. Pictured in the foreground is the cruiser Asama, itself a veteran of the Battle of Tsushima Straits, upon which Emperor Meiji reviewed the assembled Fleet.

“Remarkably, and certainly not a coincidence, Togo’s grand review was scheduled for 21 October 1905, the Anniversary of Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. Upon his arrival into Tokyo Bay, the Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture met Togo on his flagship and invited him to a gala celebration ostensibly in honour of Lord Nelson. Togo, however, became the guest of honour.

“… The review itself was as grandiose as anything the [British] Royal Navy had held in the previous fifteen years and like the British reviews, the 1905 review was political. It sought to show the Japanese public, both the 150,000 who attended as well as those who followed the event through newspapers, what their sacrifice in war had secured. More than just a demonstration of Japan’s naval might, however, the event clearly communicated and symbolically reaffirmed Japan’s political order and the clearly calibrated degrees of power within it.

“Finally, through the visual display of Japanese naval might, coupled with a formal presentation of captured Russian warships to the Emperor and nation of Japan, the naval review showcased and validated Japan’s previous naval expenditures. The 1905 review, as one journalist remarked, was an event of ‘stupendous magnitude’ that all ‘classes and nationalities’ enjoyed.”

The Anglo-Japanese Alliance, 1902-1922, by Phillips O’Brien, 2003

Grand Fleet Review, 1905. Emperor Meiji is displayed in the inset photo. At center image is the captured Russian battleship Oryol, displayed as a war prize during the Grand Fleet Review, later renamed Iwami when repaired and recommissioned into service as a coastal defense ship in 1907 with the Imperial Japanese Navy.

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