Bakufu kaigun (navy) (幕府海軍)

Bakufu kaigun (navy) was a navy with western-style armaments which was organized by Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) to accomplish battles at sea as a mission. It was engaged in battles including the Choshu Conquest, and the bakufu kaigun led by Takeaki ENOMOTO continued battles in the Boshin War even after the bakufu was overthrown in Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor).


In order to respond to foreign ships that often came to Japan, in 1845, roju (member of shogun's council of elders), Masahiro ABE established Goyo-gakari for coastal defense (coastal defense department) to implement military reforms. However, the coastal defense measure defined that the coastal defense organization used the farmer force, which was insufficient to protest against the forces of other countries abroad. In 1853, Bakufu lifted `the ban on the production of big ships,' and encouraged each domain to produce warships.

After the arrival of the Black Ships, in 1854, Masahiro ABE recruited Ichio OKUBO (Ichio) to the metsuke (inspector of foot soldiers) of coastal defense department. Okubo focused on Kaishu KATSU's statement on the coastal defense. In his statement, he suggested the establishment of navy, followed by the purchase of warships for the navy and training of navy trainees. The bakufu adopted his suggestion, and started to establish a navy.

In July, 1855, the bakufu founded Nagasaki Kaigun Denshu-sho (Japanese Naval School in Nagasaki) in which `kanko maru,' a steam boat donated by the Dutch Navy for training was used and Nagasaki Kaigun Denshu-sho had 22 officers dispatched from the Dutch Navy including Heruharuto Berusu Raiken dajo in Nagasaki. It was located within Nagasaki Bugyo West office (Sotoura-cho town, present day Edo machi-town, Nagasaki City where Nagasaki Prefectural Government is located). Naoyuki NAGAI was appointed to the supervisor for students, and among the students, Ko YATABORI, Kojiro NAGAMOCHI, Kaishu KATSU were selected as governors (supervisors for students).

In March 1857, Naoyuki NAGAI and other 105 students boarded `kanko maru' and left Nagasaki for Kanagawa.
In August in the same year, they founded a warship school within Tsukiji kobusho, together with `kanko maru.'
Kaishu KATSU, who remained in Nagasaki, took charge of 'yaban go,' (Kanrin Maru [the first Japanese ship ever to cross the Pacific]) which was purchased from Holland and the second troop with 36 teachers including Willem Johan Cornelis ridder Huijssen van Kattendijke as a head, who boarded 'yaban go.'
`Yaban go' arrived in October in the same year, and 27 students in the second term from Edo boarded the `yaban go.'
Nagasaki Kaigun Denshu-sho closed in 1859. A post of gunkan bugyo (the government's naval magistrate) was newly established in the same year.

In January 1860, to exchange the ratification of The Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan, delegates to the United states boarded `bo hatan go,' the American warship (USS Powhatan [1850])to cross the Pacific. The vice-envoy, Kaishu KIMURA, Kyojyugata Toriatsukai (captain rank), Kaishu KATSU, and 11military personnel including Brook taijo (enJohn Mercer Brooke) boarded 'Kanrin maru,' and left for the United states, and they accomplished tasks such as practical training on ocean navigation by Japanese crewmen, and visit to the American Navy.

Military reforms in Bunkyu Era

In May 1861, 10 gakari for military reforms were appointed to proceed military reforms. In terms of Navy, a military reform plan was formulated, centering on gunkan bugyo (the government's naval magistrate), Kimura Settsu no kami (the governor of Settsu Province) who was a member of gakari for military reforms. In July in the same year, Gunkangumi was established, and Ko YATABORI, Tomogoro ONO, and Tetsutaro BAN were appointed to the todori (chief) of gunkan. Later, Ikunosuke ARAI, Hamagiro HIDA, Keigo KINOSHITA (Izawa) were additionally appointed to the todori (chief) of gunkan. In July, 1862, Funategumi (a seamen's guild) was incorporated into Gunkangumi while 288 members of Kobushin-gumi (samurai without official appointments who receive small salaries) were incorporated into Gunkangumi in August in the same year.

In 1862, they started to construct the domestic steamboat, `Chiyodagata maru.'
Furthermore, they dispatched students to Holland, and ordered gunkan (warships) from abroad (`Fujiyama' [warship], 'Higashikan' from the United States, `Kaiyo Maru Warship' from Holland).

In August, 1862, a plan on the expansion of kaigun (Navy) to increase the number of warship to 370 and to increase the number of crewman to 61,205 was suggested, however, it was never adopted.

Military reforms in Keio Era

After the defeat in the second conquest of Choshu clan, from August, 1866, the second large-scale military reform was executed under Shogun Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA. The kaigun (navy) agency was established by introducing the presidency (roju [member of shogun's council of elders]) system to the central organization of bakufu, and the president of kaigun coequal to roju (member of shogun's council of elders) was additionally placed in the existing organization of kaign. Kaigun (Navy) bugyo was additionally established over gunkan bugyo (the government's naval magistrate). The Navy salary system based on military rank was established and clothing regulation was defined.

After Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor)

After Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor), the Battle of Toba-Fushimi occurred. Immediately after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, the former bakufu kaigun stayed in Mt. Tempo oki (coast) in Osaka. When the former bakufu kaigun was defeated in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA, who stayed in Osaka-jo Castle, boarded 'kaiyomaru' to Edo, without permission from Shogun's retainer of war party, and they moved to Edo.

When the new government army occupied Edo, Kaiyo Maru Warship, Kaitenmaru Warship, Banryu Maru, Chiyodagatamaru led by the former retainers of the resistance force who were dissatisfied with the treatment of the Tokugawa family by the new government, including Takeaki ENOMOTO and other four transport ships (Kanrin Maru, Chogei Maru, Shinsoku Maru, Mikaho Maru) (the first Japanese ship ever to cross the Pacific) which accommodated the soldiers of rikugun (army) including commando unit escaped Shinagawa oki (coast). It accommodated the Shinsengumi (literally, the newly selected corps, referring to a special police force for the Tokugawa regime), Ou-reppan allied force, Sadaaki MATSUDAIRA and escaped into Ezochi (inhabited area of Ainu); Ezo (Hokkaido). ENOMOTO and others based on Hakodate Goryokaku fort, and established Ezo republic. In 1869, the following year, they were defeated in Hakodate war, and the remained warships were transferred to the new government.

War history

Choshu Conquest
Naval battle of Awa oki (coast)
the Battle of Miyakowan Bay
Naval battle of Hakodattewan (coast)

[Original Japanese]