Hyakunin-giri Kyōsō

The Contest to Cut Down 100 People

A Contest to Cut Down 100 People!

Both Second Lieutenants Already at 80 Kills

[Nov. 29th, Correspondents Asami, Mitsumoto and Yasuda reporting from Changzhou] The [16th Division], which walked the 40 km distance between Changshu and Wuxi in six days, would walk the same distance from Wuxi to Changzhou in only three days—nothing less than superhuman speed. A sudden charge. In the Katagiri unit standing in the front line, two young officers have undertaken a contest to kill 100 people with their swords.

Since leaving Wuxi, one of them has already cut down 56 people, and the other, 25 people. The former is Toyama Battalion's 2nd Lt. Toshiaki Mukai (26) from Jindai, Kuga County, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The latter, in the same battalion, is 2nd Lt. Tsuyoshi Noda (25), from Tashiro, Kimotsuki County, Kagoshima Prefecture. While 2nd Lt. Mukai, a 3rd dan in jukendō, takes pride in the "Seki no Magoroku" sword on his hip, 2nd Lt. Noda talks of his sword, of a no-name brand, but a family treasure handed down from his ancestors.

It was decided that after leaving Wuxi, 2nd Lt. Mukai and his group would advance along the railroad for 26 or 27 km, and 2nd Lt. Noda's group would advance parallel to the railroad, so the two of them were temporarily separated. The morning after they had departed, 2nd Lt. Noda charged into a pillbox in an unnamed village 8 km outside Wuxi and cut down four enemies in his bid to become the first to breach the enemy line. Hearing about this, 2nd Lt. Mukai worked up his resolve, and that night, he and his men rushed into an enemy camp in Henglin, where he cut down 55 people.

After that, 2nd Lt. Noda cut down nine people in Henglin, six people in Weiguan, and on the 29th, six people at Changzhou station, for a total of 25. 2nd Lt. Mukai subsequently cut down four people near the station, and when we reporters arrived, we happened to catch the two men being interviewed in front of the station.

Second Lieutenant Mukai: "As it stands now, I'll probably have cut down 100 people by the time I reach Danyang, let alone Nanjing. Noda's gonna lose. I've already cut down 56 people with my sword, and it's only got one little nick in it."

Second Lieutenant Noda: "The both of us have decided not to cut down people who are running away. I'm an [aide-de-camp], so I can't get my numbers up. But before we get to Danyang, I'll try to set a big record."

(Tokyo Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, Nov. 30, 1937)

Moving Into High Gear

Progress in the Contest To Cut Down 100 People

[Dec. 3, Correspondents Asami and Mitsumoto reporting from Danyang] As previously reported, a "contest to cut down 100 people" before reaching Nanjing has begun. Second lieutenants Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda—the two young officers in the Katagiri Regiment's Toyama Battalion, in the van of the [16th Division]—have, since leaving Changzhou, fought in fierce battle after fierce battle. By the time they entered Danyang, at 6 PM on the afternoon of Dec. 2, 2nd Lt. Mukai stood at 86 kills, and 2nd Lt. Noda stood at 65 kills. It has become a close battle, and the two are competing against each other ferociously.

In the 24 miles from Changzhou to Danyang, the former got 30 kills, and the latter got 40 kills, as the brave men fought as indescribably fiercely as the Asura themselves. This time, both of the brave soldiers travelled together along the Jinghu Railway, jumping into enemy camps at Benniu, Lücheng, Lingkou (all on the northern route to Danyang), cutting and killing wherever they went.

2nd Lt. Mukai was the first to rush the gate of Danyang. 2nd Lt. Noda injured his right wrist slightly. And this contest to cut down 100 people is building towards a glorious conclusion. After these reporters entered Danyang, we chased after the Toyama unit, who were steadily progressing forward. 2nd Lt. Mukai spoke from the middle of the marching ranks of troops, smiling as he spoke.

"This guy Noda has caught up with me considerably, so he's starting to get lethargic. Don't worry about Noda's injury—it's nothing. The bones of some guy I cut down in Lingkou chipped my sword in one place, but it'll still be able to cut down 100 or 200 people, I'm sure. A reporter from Tōnichi Daimai is going to be the judge."

(Tokyo Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, Dec. 4, 1937)

Close Race in the "Contest to Cut Down 100 People"


Fight! Second Lieutenants Mukai and Noda

[Dec. 5th, Correspondents Asami and Mitsumoto reporting from Jurong] Second Lieutenants Mukai and Noda from the Katagiri Regiment—the two young officers with their sights set on Nanjing, in a "contest to cut down 100 people"have been fighting fiercely on the front line, even after having entered the city of Jurong. Shortly before they entered the city, their results stood at: 2nd Lt. Mukai 89, 2nd Lt. Noda 78. A very close race.

(Tokyo Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, Dec. 6, 1937)

"Incredible Record" In The Contest to Cut Down 100 People

Mukai 106, Noda 105

Both Second Lieutenants Go Into Extra Innings

[Dec. 12th, Correspondents Asami and Suzuki reporting from the foot of Purple Mountain] Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyochi [sic] Noda, the two daring second lieutenants in the Katagiri Regiment who started an unusual contest to "cut down 100 people" before entering Nanjing, have—amidst the chaos of the battle to capture Purple Mountain on Dec. 10threcorded their 106th and 105th kills respectively. When they met each other at noon on Dec. 10th, they were both carrying their swords in one hand. Their blades had, of course, been damaged.

Noda: "Hey, I got 105. What about you?" Mukai:"I got 106!"…Both men laughed. Because they didn't know who had reached 100 kills first, in the end someone said, "Well then, since it's a drawn game, what if we start again, this time going for 150 kills?" They both agreed, and on the 11th, they started an even longer contest to cut down 150 people. At noon on the 11th, on Purple Mountain, which overlooks an imperial tomb, while in the midst of hunting down the remnants of the defeated [Chinese] army, 2nd Lt. Mukai talked about the progress of the drawn game.

"I'm happy that we both exceeded 100 kills before we found out the final score. But I damaged my 'Seki no Magoroku' on some guy's helmet when I was cleaving him in two. So, I've made a promise to present this sword to your company when I've finished fighting. At 3 AM, on the morning of the 11th, our comrades used the unusual strategy of setting Purple Mountain on fire, in order to smoke any remaining enemies out of their hiding places. But I got smoked out too! I shot up with my sword over my shoulder, and stood straight as an arrow amidst a rain of bullets, but not a single bullet hit me. That's also thanks to my Seki no Magoroku here."

Then, amidst a barrage of incoming enemy bullets, he showed one of the reporters his Magoroku, which had soaked up the blood of 106 people.

Both of the Officers in "The Contest to Cut Down 100 People" – (Right) 2nd Lt. Tsuyochi [sic] Noda, (Left) 2nd. Toshiaki Mukai – Photo by Correspondent (Shin[ju]) Satō in Changzhou

(Tokyo Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, Dec. 13, 1937)

Translator's note:

#1. There are some places in which the first two articles have been censored. The Japanese characters have been replaced with a "maru" (○). The censored information includes the name of a military unit, and the exact position held by 2nd Lt. Noda. I have replaced the censored data with the most likely information (in square brackets), as taken from Japanese military records, and suggested in this website's analysis of the articles: http://www.geocities.jp/pipopipo555jp/han/nich-mai-hikaku.htm

The hierarchy of the 16th Division, down to the battalion to which the two men belonged:

16th Division (Nakajima Division)
19th Infantry Brigade (Kusaba Brigade)
9th Infantry Regiment (Katagiri Regiment)
3rd Battalion (Toyama Battalion)

2nd Lt. Mukai was the Toyama Battalion's Gunnery Platoon Captain, 2nd Lt. Noda was the Toyama Battalion's aide-de-camp.

#2. There is a mistake in the original of the first article. As can be seen, the number of people killed by Mukai is reported to be both 56 and 59 (55+4). It is clear from the second article (which says he got 30 more kills, bringing him to 86) that the number 59 was incorrect. Therefore, the author's quotes of 55 kills and 4 kills are also untrustworthy. The number in the headline of the first article refers to their combined number of kills (56+25) being greater than 80.

#3. There are "spelling mistakes" in one of the articles, in that the author used the wrong kanji on two separate occasions: he has changed Tsuyoshi Noda's given name from '毅' to '巌'. Because it is not possible to show the actual kanji errors in English, I have instead inserted spelling mistakes. "Tsuyoshi Noda" has become "Tsuyochi Noda". Both are indicated with [sic]. It is because of this mistake that Tsuyoshi Noda is sometimes referred to as "Iwao Noda"; "Iwao" is an alternate reading for the kanji mistakenly used by the author.

#4. The speech of the officers seem to be very poorly organized, and sentences seem detached from each other. Although it is not indicated with any kind of punctuation in the original, I believe that these are merely (sentence-long) excerpts from the original conversations.