Imperial Japanese rations

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Imperial Japanese rations were the field rations issued by Imperial Japan in World War II, and which reflected the culture of the Japanese military. Rations had to be stout, durable, simple, sturdy and had to survive without refrigeration for long periods of time. Typically each ration was served in the field in tin boxes, and cooked near the battlefield. The mess tin was known as a han-gou.[1]

The rations issued by the Imperial Japanese Government, usually consisted of rice with barley, meat or fish, vegetables, pickled vegetables, umeboshi, shoyu sauce, miso or bean paste, and green tea.[2] A typical field ration would have 1½ cups of rice, with barley. The reason why rice was issued with barley was to combat nutritional deficiencies such as beriberi.[3] Often, soldiers would forage for fresh fruit to provide vitamins.[4]

Typically ¼ cup of canned tuna, or sausages, and/or squid would be cooked from either captured locations or hunting in the nearby area. Preserved foods from Japan typically were issued sparingly. Other foods issued: 1 ¼ cups of canned cabbage, coconut, sweet potato, burdock, lotus root, taro, bean sprouts, peaches, mandarin oranges, lychee or beans. 3 teaspoons of pickled radish (typically daikon), pickled cucumber, umeboshi, scallions and ginger added flavor to the rations. Sometimes less than an ounce of dried seaweed, was issued for making sushi in the field, or beer and/or sake was issued to help boost morale.

Field Rations[5][edit]

Two types of rations were issued, normal rations for use at mealtimes and special rations to be carried by the soldier

Normal Type Ration[edit]

A single ration of this type includes the following:

660 g (23.28 oz) of rice;

209 g (7.37 oz) of barley;

209 g (7.37 oz) of raw meat;

600 g (21.16 oz) of vegetables;

60 g (2.11 oz) of pickles

small quantities of flavoring, salt, and sugar.

Special Type Ration[edit]

A single ration includes the following:

580 g (20.46 oz) of rice (probably polished);

230 g (8.113 oz) of biscuit;

150 g (5.3 oz) of canned meat (or 60 g (2.1 oz) of dried meat);

120 g (4.23 oz) of dried vegetables;

31 g (1.09 oz) of dried plums, and small quantities of salt, sugar, and sometimes a can of beer made from rice called sake.

Emergency Rations[edit]

Five days rations were issued to each soldier for emergency use[5]

The ration consisted of;

a. Half a pound of hard candy.

b. Can of tea.

c. Package of compact food.

d. Vitamin pills.

e. Package of hardtack.

f. Small sack of rice

In Burma the Japanese used two types of emergency rations. One was known as the "A" scale and the other as the "B" scale. Each soldier carried rations for three days on the "A" scale and for one day on the "B" scale. Neither of the rations was to be eaten except on orders of the commanding officer when the unit was separated from its supply column. Each ration under the "A" scale consisted of about 1 pound and 3 ounces of rice (enough for two meals) and one small can of mixed beef and vegetables. The soldier usually cooked the rice in a small bucket which he carried for this purpose. The "B" scale ration consisted of three paper bags of hard biscuits (enough for three meals).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Japanese Soldier in WWII Trivia". Fun Trivia. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Japanese Armed Forces Standard Rations". CHARLOTTE'S AXIS ATTIC. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  4. ^ Budge, Kent. "Rations". The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Food (Japan), Intelligence Bulletin, September 1942 (Lone Sentry)". Retrieved 2016-01-01.