Caricature of Russian Army Showing Russian Officer with Troops in Formation


The Russo-Japanese War (1904–5) was documented in various forms of media, such as woodblock prints, photographs, and illustrations. The victories of the Japanese military in the early stages of the war inspired propaganda prints by Japanese artists. This print forms part of the series, Rokoku seibatsu senshō shōwa (The expeditionary war against Russia: tales of laughter). The illustrator is Utagawa Kokunimasa, also known as Baidō Bōsai or Utagawa Kunimasa V (1874–1944). The satirical writer Honekawa Dojin (pseudonym of Nishimori Takeki, 1862–1913) supplied each illustration with an accompanying humorous description. The series mocked the Russians for their perceived military weakness, conceit, and cowardice. Here the Russian soldiers are depicted as starving, with their lines of supply cut off by the Japanese. When the commander admonishes them for being so weak, they reply that they would be grateful if the Japanese attacked. That would allow them to “eat foam” (become flustered) and “eat bullets” (to be shot at), expressions that convey the panic, confusion, and desperate hunger of the Russians.

Last updated: February 8, 2016