The Russo-Japanese War between 1904 and 1905 was one of the first conflicts with modern weaponry such as machine guns, foreshadowing the destruction to come when World War I broke out just a few years later. Fought to settle disputes over territory in Korea and its neighboring region, Manchuria, it began with a surprise attack by Japanese forces on the Russian-held naval base of Port Arthur in China in 1904.
A group of colorized stereoscopic prints from prolific early American photo publisher Truman Ward Ingersoll [PDF] shows the war and the long Siege of Port Arthur from the Japanese army’s perspective. Images from 1905 show camp life in the Japanese army, including soldiers fooling around in their free time, setting up makeshift barbershops, and heading into pawn shops. They also show the army transporting and setting up “Osaka babies,” guns brought from mainland Japan that could fire 300-pound shells.
This is a Chinese pawn shop in the 1900s:
Soldiers getting a trim:
A Japanese general:
Not sure what these soldiers are doing with their recreational time—talking? Doing a very slow dance?
The "peace offering" shown below seems to be artillery.
The process of loading and shooting the Osaka babies looks intense:
See more of the images from Public Domain Review.
All images by T.W. Ingersoll via Boston Public Library Flickr