This belt is what I call '1880'; it is canvas & leather, with dimensions of 31.5” x 4.75”. It will fit a waist from 28” ~ 32”; and is 30.5” at the center strap hole. Note the 5” diagonal back support bars at the rear of the belt — these are leather matching the same weight of the other leather parts. The canvas is herringbone weave.

The leather patch securing the three straps has a fleur-de-lis stamp above each strap, so I think the belt might be French; the number “32” is stamped on the base of the center strap (which matches the largest size the belt could accomodate). The French had a long-time military mission to Japan from about 1868~1878. The Japanese Ministry of War (or whatever it was called then) attempted to cancel the French contract and hire Germans officers after the French lost the Franco-Prussian War; however, the Japanese General Staff (typically conservative and not wanting change) were opposed; it took until about 1880 before Germans finally replaced the French.

The reverse side has some arsenal or acceptance stamps — the two that I can read are generic Japanese family name “chops” [hanko] that are still sold today. #1 is Otani (sometimes spelled Ootani or Ohtani); #2 is Tanimura; and #3 is illegible. There is a fourth stamp under the middle buckle and it looks to be similar to stamp #1: Otani (but I cannot tell for certain). Additionally, there is a pencil or ink mark on the top edge opposite the buckles. This mark is “CAo” -- and I have no idea of its significance. With thanks to Guy H. Power

With thanks to Guy H. Power

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