WW2 Japanese Army Infantry Bird Sake Bottle

As well as the embossed figure sake bottles, a few specialty military bottles were made for those who were more flashy in their tastes. One would think that the gaudy or really amazingly different items would not appeal to the traditional Japanese sensibility, but of course in every culture and society there are people with a wide variety of thoughts, tastes, and expressions of the same. So here is a bottle that does not appeal to most modern Japanese, or at least those to whom I have shown it. The most common reaction upon seeing it is dasai, which may be translated as unpleasant or unattractive.

Here it is:

As you can see, it is a bird-shaped tokkuri. What is really interesting about this bottle (in addition to its shape) is that it is a whistling bottle. The removable head is not a separate sake cup; it is a whistling cap. One takes the head off, puts the sake in the bottle, replaces the head, and pours. The sake comes out of the beak, and a gentle chirping comes out of the back tuft of feathers.

This particular bottle was given to an infantryman. Here is a close-up of the painted design on the bird’s breast:

A large gold Army star has been painted on. The inscription reads ’13th Infantry, Yoshizono.’ And a famous poem that is often found on Japanese military items: ‘Your body is lighter than a feather, but duty is heavier than a mountain. Do your duty and you can return home and enjoy the blossoms.’

The last pictures shows the bottom of the bottle, which has a trademark stamp. You can also see inside the head. The circular device is the whistle.


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