The Kaiten was a 700-ton capital ship which participated in the Battle of Hakodate, a conflict between forces of the new Meiji government, which sought to modernize Japan, and forces loyal to the former shogun. The Kaiten fought valiantly until the final naval battle at Hakodate Bay. This is an unexploded shell fired by the Kaiten.
In the disorder created by the opening of Japan to foreign nations and modernization triggered by events such as the visit of American Commodore Perry’s fleet to Hakodate, civil war broke out between the Edo shogunate and revolutionary forces seeking to create a new nation, lasting for a year and a half. The Battle of Hakodate was the last stage of this war.
A photograph of Kaiten’s tragically burnt-out wreck remains at Hakodate Chuo Library. Japan’s first wartime photographs were taken in Hakodate.
Words Masaharu Taniguchi
Translation by Xene Inc.