Sunday 4 December 2022

Nihon shugi

 Nihon shugi; introducing gaming the rise of Japan

Part 1 of John Kersey's new series charting a wargame project based on the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century conflicts in China and the Far East.

Early inspiration  

The extraordinary rise of Imperial Japan in the period from the late 19th Century to the First World War included some fascinating interplay between Japan, China, the Colonial Powers and Imperial Russia. The Japanese coined a phrase for this national rise and patriotic feeling;
nihon shugi or more fully nihon gunkan shugi. I've used the idea of nihon shugi as a kind of franchise covering a gaming project looking at the major conflicts at this time which include: 

The First Sino-Japanese War 1894-1895

Intervention in the Boxer Rebellion 1900

The Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905

The assumption is that Nihon shugi will be a project running over a three year period with the first year being devoted to the First Sino-Japanese War. The emphasis will be on land actions using 1/72 and 20mm figures, whether plastic or metal, as the best fit. Naturally, as you are reading this on the All Things Jacklex site, the prime actors will be the Jacklex Imperial Japanese range, supported by the Imperial Russian and newly emerging Chinese range. However, use has been made of suitable plastic ranges to supplement the armies, especially the Chinese Boxers originating from Orion and Red Box. Of course, not every troop or weapon type is covered by these, fulsome though they are, so recourse has been made by borrowing and adapting weapons such as Gatling guns from other plastic ranges and converting other Jacklex figures into suitable crew etc. to fill the gaps; all of which will be discussed as we go along.   

The new range of Jacklex Chinese Army figures on the workbench of sculptor Andrew Stadden. 

Firstly, what got me inspired here? Well, it was actually a longstanding interest dating right back to 1968! This is when, with my pocket money, I bought the weekly part-work of 'Purnell's History of the 20th Century', authored by notable historians and authorities of the time. On the pages I remember seeing a colourful and dramatic woodblock print of a Japanese cavalry officer in western style uniform sabering some Chinese infantrymen in traditional costumes. I had to read more about it and at the same time learnt about the Russo-Japanese War, complete with all the wonderful contemporary photographs. Much later on in the 1980's I discovered the Jacklex range so could skirmish game some Japanese and Russian encounters.  These small forces (along with some Boers and others used as colonial settlers) were sold on and the urge subsided. Fortunately, it didn't totally disappear and when I later bought a wonderful artbook with a collection of woodblock prints based on the conflict it was sufficient until the right time came along.  

So, to return to Nihon shugi; it is primarily a gaming project and very much one that has evolved from previous explorations into 1/72 gaming in the Great War period using the Partizan Press rules 'Bloody Picnic' derived from the popular 'General de Brigade' Napoleonic ruleset. Another related gaming project was based on the (hypothetical) Great Invasion of 1910 which used William Le Queux's book 'If England Were Invaded' (recently reprinted by the Bodleian Press) as a source of inspiration for two show games - one being a scenario set around Alexandra Palace during the siege of London (the show was actually hosted at the said location!) and the other, the battle of Maldon displayed at the Partizan show in May 2022. 

Hopefully, I've set the scene here for the series and next time we'll look at the opening set-piece game which was held at the Other Partizan show in October.

The First Sino-Japanese War game at the Other Partizan 

Part 2 to follow.


  1. A worthy project. I'm looking forward to seeing it develop.

  2. Thanks Ross. I'm currently working on an article on Pyongyang 1894 which will published in Miniature Wargames magazine - the next part of the blog will be more of a personal look at the game.

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  4. Confess I'm really looking forward the the release of those Chinese!

  5. Must admit that I'm really looking forward to the release of those Chinese!

  6. Wow, I have always waited for a Chinese army of this period! Great stuff