IJN Japanese Aircraft Carrier Launching Commemorative Sake Bottle

Another ship launching commemorative item you may run across is a sake cup or bottle. Cups and bottles made for IJN ship launchings are often blue underglaze designs, usually of ships, planes, birds (small plovers), and whales. The designs are most often general (i.e., not detailed). I have seen a number of ship launching cups and bottles and they all seem to have been made by the same designer–or at least all based on a similar design, especially the inscription style. Today I’ll show you a bottle I had long ago from the aircraft carrier Chiyoda.

Note that the planes and the ship lack detail, as this design was used for other ship launchings. Another view:

The inscription is in the style of other ship launching commemorative cups and bottles:

 Inscribed ‘Warship Chiyoda, Launching Commemorative, Kure Naval Arsenal, Showa 12 [1937] November 19.’

The Chiyoda has an interesting history. Built at the Kure Naval Factory in December 1936, launched in November 1937. Carried midget submarines. In 1940 it was rebuilt to expand the submarine capacity, reducing the number of seaplanes it could carry from 24 to 12. She was at the battle of Midway but played no major role. Sunk at Leyte Gulf in 1944 with all hands perishing.

Note that this is not a unique bottle, so others can be found. And of course similar bottles and cups can be found as well. These always fetch high prices because of how valuable they are historically (a concrete connection to an IJN warship) and because they probably weren’t made in large numbers. Just to give you an idea, I saw a Chiyoda launching commemorative bottle (like the one pictured above) sell for over 50,000 Japanese yen (over 500 US dollars) in a recent Japanese auction. Prices vary according to the vessel, though, and the Chiyoda was one of the major IJN warships in WW2.

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