Akiyama Yoshifuru

Count Akiyama Yoshifuru (秋山 好古, February 9, 1859 – November 4, 1930) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, and is considered the father of modern Japanese cavalry. He was Vice Admiral Akiyama Saneyuki's older brother.

Akiyama Yoshifuru
Akiyama Yoshifuru.jpg
Akiyama Yoshifuru
Born(1859-02-09)February 9, 1859
Matsuyama, Iyo Province, Japan
DiedNovember 4, 1930(1930-11-04) (aged 71)
Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan
AllegianceEmpire of Japan
Service/branchWar flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1877-1923
Rank帝國陸軍の階級―肩章―大将.svg General
Commands heldIJA 1st Division, IJA 5th Division
Battles/warsFirst Sino-Japanese War, Boxer Rebellion, Russo-Japanese War
AwardsGrand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure
Order of the Golden Kite, 2nd Class
Grand Officer


Early lifeEdit

Born as the third son to a poor samurai in the Matsuyama Domain, Iyo Province (modern Ehime Prefecture), Akiyama's family was so poor in his childhood that he was forced to work as a fire stoker and janitor in a local public bathhouse for a pittance each day.

Akiyama entered the Rikugun shikan gakkō (the forerunner of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy) in 1877. He went on to attend the Army Staff College, and was sent as a military attaché to France to study cavalry tactics and techniques. He was the only Japanese officer sent to study at the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr at a time when the rest of the Japanese Army had turned to the Imperial German Army as its model and was being taught by instructors from Germany.

Akiyama had very pale skin and large eyes (for a person of Japanese descent in that era). He was often mistaken for a European student by many foreign instructors such as Jakob Meckel while at the Japanese Army Academy, and developed a reputation as a “ladies' man,” much to the envy of his colleagues during his stay in France, whereas he himself disliked his attractive looks. He was an impartial man who had a bowl of rice with slices of pickles for his meal. However, he spent his money on sake and had a reputation as a heavy drinker.

Military careerEdit

General Akiyama

Akiyama was active in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 as a cavalry regimental commander in the IJA 1st Division, and served with Japanese expeditionary forces in the subsequent Boxer Rebellion with the IJA 5th Division. In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, he led his troops in the Battle of Shaho, Battle of Sandepu, and in the Battle of Mukden against the Cossack cavalry divisions of the Imperial Russian Army. In April 1906, he was awarded the Order of the Golden Kite (2nd class).

Akiyama became commander of the IJA 13th Division in 1913, and after his promotion to full general in 1916, was given command of the Imperial Guards Division. The following year, he was assigned command of the Chōsen Army. In 1920, he became Director General for Military Education.

After he retired from active military service in 1923, declining promotion to Field Marshal, he returned to his native island of Shikoku and became the principal of the Hokuyō Junior High School (present-day Matsuyama High School). Akiyama died of complications from diabetes at the Army Medical School Hospital in Tokyo in 1930, and his grave is in the city of Matsuyama.

Portrayals in fictionEdit

Akiyama is one of the main characters of Saka no Ue no Kumo ("Clouds over the slope"), a novel by Shiba Ryotaro, adapted as a historical drama on the Japanese television network NHK from 2009-2011. Akiyama was portrayed by actor Hiroshi Abe.

Akiyama inspired the character Dot Pixis in the manga series Attack on Titan. This caused an Internet flame war about the general's military actions, specifically, but not exclusively, in Korea. The 2013 controversy included death threats to the manga's creator Hajime Isayama.[1]


With translated material from the corresponding Japanese Wikipedia article

Order of precedenceEdit

  • Senior eighth rank (5 June 1880)
  • Seventh rank (7 April 1883)
  • Senior seventh rank (188?)
  • Sixth rank (11 January 1893)
  • Senior sixth rank (24 March 1896)
  • Fifth rank (30 October 1897)
  • Senior fifth rank (20 October 1902)
  • Fourth rank (11 November 1907)
  • Senior fourth rank (28 December 1912)
  • Third rank (31 January 1916)
  • Senior third rank (10 March 1919)
  • Second rank (30 April 1923)



  • Dupuy, Trevor N. (1992). Encyclopedia of Military Biography. I B Tauris & Co Ltd. ISBN 1-85043-569-3.
  • Oide, Hishashi. (1992). Meisho Akiyama Yoshifuru: Kibo no saizensen shikikan no shogai. Kojinsha. ISBN 4-7698-0391-5.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "A Thousand Death Threats Against a Popular Anime Creator". io9. July 1, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2013.