During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Tadyoshi Sakurai was a junior officer in the Japanese army. He participated in the campaign against Port Arthur, and important Russian sea port in China. The Russo-Japanese War was a turinng point in Japanese military might, being the first victory by an Asian power over a European power since the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. Japanese success was ascribed to the "spirit" of the Japanese people, helping their soldiers overcome vastly superior numbers and military technology.
Sakurai provides a fascinating glimpse of the prevailing nationalistic and militaristic attitudes in early 20th century Japan. His account introduces Western culture to the concept of yamato-damashii, or "traditional Japanese spirit." Fighting with more than simply high morale, Japanese soldiers were the emperor's "human bullets". Like bullets, they were not concerned with comfort, self preservation or even victory. They existed only to strike at the enemy.