The Imperial Japanese Army Academy stood on Ichigaya Heights, a hill about a mile northeast of Meiji Jingu Stadium. Visitors checked in with guards at the gatehouse before proceeding up a broad, steep, winding road to the main hall—an imposing three-story Westernstyle building capped with a cupola that would look at home on any New England college campus. Subsidiary buildings and barracks surrounded the hall.
The academy could hold several thousand cadets. Class size varied greatly from more than 1,000 in 1907 to just 276 the following year. Cadets were drawn from military preparatory schools or by special examination from a civil school. Conditions at the academy were harsh. The cadets lived in shabby barracks constructed in the 1870s with little to no heat. Food was scarce and of poor quality. With the poor diet, the average cadet in his early twenties put on just three pounds and grew only a half inch during his three-year stay.1
Equally harsh was the daily routine. Reveille came at 5:30 a.m. The cadets spent their mornings at private study and lectures and their afternoons at physical training, often bare-chested, regardless of the weather. Training included gymnastics, kendo, fencing, judo, riding, and drill. Western sports were forbidden. The cadets’ evenings were filled with private study. Roll call came at 9:30 p.m. and lights out at 10:00. Cadets were also responsible for cleaning their uniforms, gear, and the buildings. According to the Inspector-General’s Rules and Regulations, the instruction should focus on “fostering a spirit of loyalty and patriotism.” Free exchange of ideas, original thinking, and even discussion were discouraged and often forbidden. A British observer noted that science was “distorted and its disfigured shape used to substantiate the moral training… that [the Japanese are]