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Japanese Army Bugle

Article about: Hi All, I am looking for any information or period photo's of the WW2 Japanese bugle, I recently aquired this one, it has a nice even patina, tassle's are in good shape for being WW2 era, th

  1. #1

    Default Japanese Army Bugle

    Hi All,
    I am looking for any information or period photo's of the WW2 Japanese bugle, I recently aquired this one, it has a nice even patina, tassle's are in good shape for being WW2 era, the only markings I found are the number 3 on top of the wide opening, it is missing the chain from the mouthpiece but the patina matches so perfect that it must be original, alittle bit of damage on the front but it does play, I know this isnt the biggest area of interest or study for collectors but I like to dive in deep with every item I own. Thank you for looking and/or helping with more info, here are some photo's

    Japanese Army BugleJapanese Army BugleJapanese Army BugleJapanese Army BugleJapanese Army BugleJapanese Army Bugle

  2. #2


    Hello maximus71 that is a nice bugle.It is rare to see one with the cloth cover still on the grip area if you invert the tassels and look inside you may see wooden inserts with kanji on them I don't know if this was the case for all period military bugles but it would be interesting to know if your piece has this feature.


  3. #3


    I don't know enough about actual bugles to tell you exactly which type it is, but at a glance, yours is not a WW2 Japanese model, because it only has a double loop and not three loops. The WW2 Japanese bugle was called the Type 90 Bugle and the model is still in use today by the Ground Self Defense Force as well as the Air Self Defense Force. The development of the model began in May of 1927 and it was ready for type approval in December of 1930. The main aim was to make it play notes that were the international standard and more compact. The previous model was having only 2 loops and the current Maritime Self Defense Forces use the 2 loop type, although the IJN used the Type 90 like the army during WW2.
    Army and Navy held bugles in a totally different manner and the sculpture of the figure you show got it wrong, as he is holding it in the navy style, which is loop down. The army held it sideways, so you could not see the looping 3 tubes. Here's a Ground Self Defense Force Member Showing the correct army way to hold the Type 90 Bugle. Also a photo showing clearly the 3 loops of the Type 90 bugle.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Japanese Army Bugle  
    Attached Images Attached Images Japanese Army Bugle 

  4. #4


    Thank you guys for the help, I checked the wooden disks under the tassels and they are plain no Kanji on them. so was the double loop model a pre WW2 model? and were they used in WW2? I have seen a few at gun shows and also supposedly "bring backs" from vets and they were all 2 loop models like mine, one also had a cherry blosson stamp near the mouthpiece area, the one I have did come directly from Japan by the seller, here are some photo's I found of the two loop model in use
    Japanese Army BugleJapanese Army Bugle

  5. #5


    Very interesting topic I have never heard anything about the prescribed method of holding a bugle.I always assumed it was in the same manner as a trumpet. Just an observation.. it is possible perhaps even likely that the photo with the two soldiers is staged. the bugler in the first photo is using the correct "embouchure" which is usually the first thing a brass player is taught.The photo with the two soldiers shows them with their cheeks puffed out this is frowned upon and displays lack of correct technique.
    Continued playing in this will eventually distend and deform the players cheeks!Japanese Army Bugle As a professional touring musician for many years it was a "secret"onstage joke when the horn players were being silly to play in this fashion.

    the way in which a player applies the mouth to the mouthpiece of a brass or wind instrument.

  6. #6


    The two-loop models would have been retired by WW2, so they would not have been used. I also suspect most examples on the market are school and paramilitary .
    The army's pre-1930 two-loop model took too much effort to blow, which was another improvement point in the Type 90, so puffed cheeks are plausible for the old style.

  7. #7


    Would the men in the photo's be paramilitary then? It would interesting to see a solid proven vet bring back trumpet from the war.

  8. #8


    I found this one with a internet seach, it was part of a grouping brough back from Guadacanal by a member of the 147th Infantry, this appears to be a 3 loop version, is this correct?
    Japanese Army BugleJapanese Army Bugle

  9. #9


    Yes, that is a three-looped bugle, though I cannot tell you whether it is good. The historical photos you asked about are from the 30s before WW2, which was a transition period for bugles as well as helmets and canteens, etc. The old model came out in 1913, and after the 1930 model came, there would have been a period of a few years of overlap particularly in reserve and replacement units while they didn't yet have enough of the M30 models to go around. They would have supplied the field units first and, because the M13 produced higher notes, due to its 2 loops, it would have caused training headaches as they could not play the same tune. For this reason they would have tried to minimise the overlap and confusion.
    Whether 2 loop or 3 loop they are still made for sale to the public in Japan, as some summer festivals seem to use them. Here's what they sell to the public now (both 2 loop and 3 loop versions are available).
    Regarding the M30 model, there is a 37 page document that explains in detail its development story and within it must be clues to how one can authenticate it, but without any background in music or instruments unfortunately it is beyond my comprehension.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Japanese Army Bugle  

  10. #10


    Thanks for the education! I was in Japan recently and saw about three bugles for sale in flea markets, but decided I wasn't well enough informed. They all looked, felt and smelt period. To my recollection all of them were two loop, but I was completely unaware of the model change.


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