SHIRASE

The Shirase is the main Japanese Antarctic Suport vessel. It is a powerfull icebreaker commissioned in 1983.

It carries a post office on board and normally makes one single long voyage each season from Japan via Fremantle to the Japanese Antarctic Bases of Syowa (established 1957), Mizuho (est. 1970) and Asuka (est. 1985).   It then returns to Japan via Sydney after a round trip of around 6 months. Mail from the Japanese Bases and posted on board "Shirase" itself is usually carried all the way back to Japan before on forwarding via the Japanese and international mail systems. A limited amount of Paquebot mail is posted at either Fremantle or Sydney.

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SHIRASE 1  1998 Cover as previous but without large red ship cachet.    US$8

Note: the "Shirase" had come to the aid of the disabled Australian vessel "Aurora Australis" which was stuck in pack ice in Prydz Bay and towed her out of the pack ice until the "Aurora Australis" was able to proceed with limited ability in the care of the heavy tug "John Ross" which had been despatched from South Africa to take over the tow from the "Shirase".    For covers from the "Aurora Australis" during this rescue tow see the "Aurora Australis"  page.

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"Shirase" approaching "Aurora Australis"

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"Shirase" towing "Aurora Australis"

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SHIRASE 2   1999 Cover (February 22nd) with "Shirase" 40th JARE cachet.   US$6

Note: The Cancellation reading 10.12.18 is in Japanese dating. It reads from the 10 (Year since accession of the current Emperor - year ten is equal to 1998 in Western calendars), then 12 being the month (December) and lastly 18 being the day of the month. Often Japanese covers will have both Japanese and western style dating and on the above cover the western style dating can be seen on the Shirase R.T.O. cancellation at left.

The special cachet at left is for the 40th Anniversary of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expeditions which commenced in 1957 so the 1998-99 expedition was the 40th annual Expedition.

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SHIRASE 3  1998 Cover for 15 years in commission of "Shirase".    US$8

Note: This cover has been postmarked on the 24th December 1998 with "Shirase's" shipboard postmark. The cachet is aspecial one for the 15th year in commission

 

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SHIRASE 4   1999 40th Antarctic Operation cachet with Shirase Pictorial cancellation.   US$5

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The above view shows the "Shirase"  in Darling Harbour, Sydney in March 1999 during her port call on her way home to Japan.


2000-2001 SEASON (42ND JARE) EXPEDITION.

As in previous seasons the 42nd JARE Expedition began with the departure of "Shirase" from her home port in Japan. Her first port of call was Fremantle in Western Australia where a special reception was held on board.

We show here photos taken during the Fremantle Port call, during the 42nd JARE in Antarctica and finally at Sydney.

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During the 42nd Season, the "Shirase" had on board three different official JARE cachets as shown above. These cachets are held in the radio room which operates the Post Office.

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The photo above shows   "Shirase" arriving at Fremantle on Tuesday 28th November, 2000.

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SHIRASE 6   2000 42nd Antarctic Operation cachet with Fremantle Paquebot cancellation.   US$6

Note: the above cover has a different cachet at lower left.

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The above photo taken on board the "Shirase" shows the Chief Radio Officer  Kohei Okamura. He also acts as the Postmaster and is here at his Post Office desk organising expedition mail.

 

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The "Shirase" arrived in Sydney on the 21st March, 2001 from the Antarctic.

It berthed at the overseas passenger terminal in Circular Quay opposite the Sydney Opera House as shown at left.

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SHIRASE 7  2001(March 22nd) 42nd JARE cachet on cover with Sydney Paquebot cancellation.   US$8

Note: the above cover has a Shirase JARE Expedition sticker at lower left. Paquebot postmarking in Sydney is done at the central Queen Victoria Building.

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SHIRASE 8   2001(March 22nd) Cover with Aurora Helicopter Flight cachet & Sydney Paquebot.  US$6

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SHIRASE 9   2001(March 22nd) Sydney Paquebot on Polarogramme with Aurora flight cachet.   US$6

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SHIRASE 10  2001(March 22nd) Sydney Paquebot cover with Shirase sticker at left & oval cachet  US$6

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SHIRASE 11  2001(March 22nd) Sydney Paquebot cover with Shirase sticker at left & round cachet  US$6

Note: This cover differs from the previous item in that it has the large round Shirase cachet.

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SHIRASE 12  2001(March 22nd) Sydney Paquebot cover with Shirase sticker at left & Aurora cachet  US$6

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SHIRASE 13  2001(March 21st) Sydney Paquebot cover with various cachets and Sydney Pict postmark  US$8

Note: this cover has also been autographed by the "Shirase's" Postmaster Kohei Okamura.

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The "Shirase" is shown above berthed at Circular Quay in central Sydney. For more photos taken of Shirase during the 42nd JARE click here.

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SHIRASE 14  2001(January 13th) Cover with plain Shirase Antarctic postmark.   US$5

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SHIRASE 15   2001(January 13th) Cover with Shirase pictorial postmark.    US$6

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SHIRASE 16  2001(April 13th) Cover with Shirase pictorial postmark and helicopter cachets.   US$6

Note: This cover bears the special "Aurora Flight" helicopter cachet and was carried on a helicopter flight to and from Syowa Station.

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SHIRASE 17  2001(March 22nd)   Shirase polarogramme with Sydneyl postmark.   US$8

Note: The above Polarogramme is backstamped at Christchurch on 27 March, 2001.

2001-2002 SEASON (43RD JARE) EXPEDITION.

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The 43rd Annual Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE43) departed Tokyo in early November 2002 bound for Fremantle in Western Australia. She first loaded considerable supplies including new tracked vehicles as shown at left.

Some scientific crew boarded the vessel here while others joined the "Shirase" in Fremantle.

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Shirase arriving  Fremantle 28 November, 2001

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Shirase gangway being decorated with flags.

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SHIRASE 18  2001(November 28th) Shirase cover posted Paquebot at Fremantle.   US$6

Note: This envelope bears a unusual JAPAN M.S.D.F. cachet.

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SHIRASE 19  2001(November 28th) Shirase cover posted Paquebot at Fremantle.   US$6

Note: this cover has the "Shirase's" 43rd Operation cachet. This and the previous cover are backstamped on arrival in Christchurch on 4th december, 2001.

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SHIRASE 20  2002(January 1st) Shirase cover with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$5

Note: this cover was postmarked on board "Shirase" while she was working in the Antarctic not far from Showya Base. The pictorial datestamp is a fixed datestamp used with only the one date each season while the datestamp at the bottom is the radio office datestamp used in the same office which does have a changeable date. The cover was carried on board "Shirase" back to Tokyo  where it has been datestamped on arrival of the vessel on 15th April 2002 . It is also backstamped at Christchurch on 19th April, 2002.

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SHIRASE 21  2002(January 1st) Shirase cover with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$5

Note: this cover differs in that it bears the Helicopter detachment cachet at lower left.

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SHIRASE 22  2002(January 1st) Shirase cover with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$5

Note: This cover differs in that it has the pictorial "Shirase" 43rd JARE cachet at bottom left.

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SHIRASE 23  2002 (January 1st) Shirase Polarogramme with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$6

Note: This Polarogramme has a large  boxed "Icebraker Shirase" cachet of the M.S.D.F. applied in black. This is a Defence force cachet from the military detachment on board and is not specific to a particular season. This is however the first usage of this cachet we have recorded.

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SHIRASE 24  2002 (January 1st) Shirase Polarogramme with plain expedition postmark.   US$6

Note: this Polarogramme also differs in that it has the Shirase's 43rd Expedition cachet. backstamped on arrival in Christchurch on 19th april, 2002.

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SHIRASE 25  2002 (January 1st) Shirase Polarogramme with plain expedition postmark.   US$6

Note: this polarogramme has the Aurora Flight detachment cachet applied.

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SHIRASE 26  2002 (January 1st) Shirase Polarogramme with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$6

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SHIRASE 27  2002 (January 1st) Shirase Polarogramme with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$6

Note: the "Shirase" returned home to Tokyo on the 15th of April 2002 where the above polarogramme is cancelled (Postmark on the stamps) and finally backstamped on arrival in Christchurch on 19th April, 2002.

2002-2003 SEASON (44th JARE) EXPEDITION

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SHIRASE 28  2003 (January 1st) Envelope with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$5

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SHIRASE 29  2003 (January 1st) Shirase Polarogramme with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$6

Note: This polarogramme has been datestamped on arrival back in Tokyo on 14th of April and backstamped in Christchurch on 23rd of April 2003.

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SHIRASE 30  2003 (January 1st) Envelope with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$5

Note: This cover has a "Shirase" adhesive cinderella at bottom left. Backstamped (on the front) at Lyttelton on May 1st, 2003.

2003-2004 SEASON (45th JARE) EXPEDITION

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SHIRASE 31  2004 (January 1st) Envelope with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$5

Note: with oval blue map penguin and ship design cachet plus Radio Office dated cancellation of 1st December, 2003.

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SHIRASE 32  2004 (January 1st) Envelope with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$5

Note: with circular blue ship design cachet plus Radio Office dated cancellation of 1st December, 2003.

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SHIRASE 33  2004 (January 1st) Envelope with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$5

With oval blue tied up ship design cachet plus Radio Office dated cancellation of 1st December, 2003.

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SHIRASE 34  2004 (January 1st) Polarogramme with Pictorial Shirase postmark.   US$6

Note; with Radio Office dated cancellation of 1st December, 2003 and ships cachet in red on reverse. Backstamped in Christchurch (on front) on 21st April, 2004.

More recent covers from the 2005-06 expedition (JARE 47) can be seen by clicking here.


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