First Japanese diving mask (1918) "near-fullface" mask

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Moscow, Russia
# of dives
100 - 199
I would like to explain you one, I thnk, most rare mask, ever seen.

Here is Okushuki (or Okushi) mask from Riki Watanabe.
9月6日 船の科学館 大串式 | スガジロウのダイビング 「どこまでも潜る 」 (below you will see just google translation of this article)

The air sent by the hose passes through the pipe, enters the opening / closing valve in front of the mouth, chews with teeth, and when the valve opens, it passes through the pipe on the opposite side and jets out into the mask. Air sucks through the nose.
From "Friend of diving"

The Okushuki formula was created by Riki Watanabe, a graduate of a fishery lecture hall, the predecessor of Tokyo Fishery University, for collecting pearl oysters, pearl farming, etc., created by Ogushi Kanzo, and Watanabe's merit of Okushi I praised it and named it the Okushi style.The direction of evolution of a submarine is heading toward how much air consumption is reduced. In the free flow, drifting of the regulator, the air quickly disappears. This free flow state is a fixed dose type. A traditional submarine such as a helmet type submersible is this fixed dose air supply.Like today's scuba, the way the air flows only when sucking is a demand type, obviously the consumption of air is so small that the demand type is not comparable. As the valve to flow air only when requested, the simplest is manual. Only open the valve by hand when sucking. It is primitive to turn like a tap of a tap, but push it. It is also possible to push by hand. In fact, scuba of the type pushing with the fingers of the hand was conceived, it was made, and some of them were also put into practical use. The Okushuki formula is a tooth-motion type that performs opening and closing of a valve by chewing with teeth. I thought about that. Diver is a demand system in which air blows into the mask covering eyes and nose when biting an on-off valve lever like a washing scissors located in front of mouth under a single eye mask which diver covers nose and eyes .


The Okushuki formula is said to be the original ancestor of the scuba before Aqualang. The painting of the ship's science gallery's exhibition is also a scuba. Applications for patents have been issued to the UK in 1918 in the form of carrying tanks. However, it has not been used as a scuba.Because the tank capacity and filling pressure was low, it probably could not have been able to dive for such a practical time.
However, it is a mask type submersible that blew out of the world. 1924 (Taisho-kun) Taro Kataoka successfully raised the bullion from the Yasaka Maru from the water depth of 70 meters off the Mediterranean and Alexandria.
About these things, there is Moriyuki Yamada "Golden of the Ocean Bottom" Kodansha 1985 nonfiction novel. It is said that he wrote a dentist, but it is very interesting. However, I think that the color of fiction is dark in the part about taking white butterfly shellfish in the Arafura Sea.

Focusing on the deep dive performance of the Okushi style, it was also used for dive survey of fixed net and repair of net. Yoshitsugu Yamashita, a graduate of the fishery training institute, and Miura Tananoaki, who also conducted the diving survey of the stationary net themselves and guided themselves. In the survey of stationary nets, it is common for dive to exceed the depth of 50 m, and as far as the diving for fishery is concerned, everyone thought that Japan's diving technology is the world's best. However, in 1935, my birth year, "Friend of diving" Miura Tsunoyuki Assistant Nippon Diving Co., Ltd. According to 1935, two men who are Miura seniors lost their lives with diving and most of the divers I have a drowsy disease.
The Japanese diving company that issued this book is the manufacturer of the mask type diving machine, and the "friend of diving" was written for promotion of that mask, Yamamoto style mask. Only Okushi style masks are known, but Yamamoto style is used more. The Okushuki style is used sooner and moreover, there are few people who know the Yamamoto ceremony, saying the achievement of raising the gold mass. Now I am just doing the Yamamoto ceremony with this "friend of diving". The place to open and close valves with chewing with teeth is the same as Okushi formula. If so, you can say that it is an imitation of the Okushi formula, but the captain Yamamoto Toranosuke who invented the Yamamoto ceremony said that he had arrived with difficulty for a long time, written in Yamamoto's sales promotion book, "Diving Friends" It is. I think that the reason why Yamamoto ceremony replaced the Okushuki ceremony was that it was easy to use. Even though the principle is the same, the diver chooses the easier to use. Perhaps, it seems that the power of chewing with teeth was lighter in the Yamamoto style, and the teeth did not hurt. Unfortunately, there is no actual kind of Yamamoto style anywhere. I can not compare chews.


Miura Noriyuki, who has a Yamamoto style mask, seems to be ahead of the Okushi expression. The on-off valve is located on the side of the mask, chews with teeth, moves the lever and opens and closes the valve.

When I entered the Dong-A submarine, Yamamoto style and Okushi style mask were hanging from the ceiling of one corner of the warehouse that was my workplace. In those days, I thought that such things are relics of the past I did not see touch. At one time there was a person who bought the mask, the president sold out and disappeared from my eyes. Perhaps I think that this was the last Yamamoto ceremony to move, still workable.The Japanese diving company was in the vicinity of my office now, under the permanent bridge. Even if I visit you I have no idea of the trace. I do not know when and when this company disappeared. If I write the history of Japanese submersibles if I write it, I have to investigate, but there is no clue. I have no time. If anyone knows something, please contact me. If you have a Yamamoto style mask, please contact this is the address.

※ Friend of diving Miura Tsunoyoshi Assisted Nippon Diving Co., Ltd. 1935
* Sport Diving BSAC: Stanley Paul 1987
This mask became famous in Russia.
You can read about HMS Prince aka "Black Prince"
Was a rumors, that it carry over 200 000 GBP... Где сокровища «Черного принца»?
Russian EPRON make a deal with Sinkai Kogiossio LTD company and allow this company made a research, and according this deal most of used diving equipment goes to EPRON in the end of this search.

Late most of Russian diving books named this mask as EPRON raid mask.

Морская практика, часть IV. Борьба за живучесть и содержание корабля в исправности. Погрузка и выгрузка грузов
(next google translation again)

N.Y. AVRAAMOV, B.V. Podvysotsky, A.A. Iosse
Marine practice, part IV. The struggle for the vitality and maintenance of the ship in good condition. Loading and unloading cargo
The raid diving mask consists of a metal rim of an elliptical shape 5-6 cm wide, the edge of which ends with a rubber ledge. On the other hand, the rim is covered with glass. The mask is fitted to the diver's face, for which corresponding cuts are made with a knife on the rubber ledge. When worn, the mask is fixed on the diver’s face with rubber straps covering the head and hooks fastened at the back. Wearing a mask closes only the diver’s eyes and nose. Air from the pump is fed into the reservoir, and from there through the hose to the mask. Inside the mask air enters through a special valve, a lever that controls the air inlet, the diver holds in his teeth. The inhalation of a diver produces a nose, and exhales the air through his mouth into the water.

A diver's suit when working in a mask consists of panties or overalls, shoes and a belt with a weight of 10-12 kg. The signal end is attached to the belt. So that the connection of the mask with the hose does not experience any tension, the latter also clings to the belt. Before the diver’s descent, the reservoir and hoses are blown with air, the pump, reservoir, hoses and mask valve are checked with a pressure that is 2–2 1/2 times greater than what the diver needs on the ground. The diver descends the ladder and, when the water covers it, checks the tightness of the mask to the face. Making sure that everything is in order, the diver rises from the water and lets know that he is ready to descend. The descent is made as fast as the diver feels. When descending, the diver standing on the signal must monitor the pressure gauge and adjust the pressure of the supplied air in accordance with the signals of the descending diver. The diver working in the mask must let the air into it smoothly and in small portions, since otherwise the mask may be pressed away from the face. At the end of the work, the mask pipe and valve must be blown out with compressed air and dried. Only divers who have received sufficient theoretical and training training are allowed to perform work in a diving mask. The descent in the mask is allowed when the water temperature is not lower than 14 ° C to a depth of no more than 22 m, and stay on the ground should not exceed 15-20 minutes.

You can see this mask in the movie Treasure of sunked ship (1935!) from 1:05:00


Подводный спецназ Сталина
The development of domestic light diving equipment began at the turn of the 20s and 30s. The first Soviet model of light diving equipment was a raid mask developed by EPRON specialists (Expedition of Underwater Special Purpose Works) based on a Japanese prototype. So far it was just a lightweight version of the hose equipment, i.e., still the diver in the raid mask was connected with an air pump on the shore with a hose. The mask was used on its own, or was glued into the TU-1 overalls, and in this case the device already had a fitting for connecting a cylinder with an emergency air supply - a kind of scuba prototype. The set of raid mask and overalls was lightweight diving equipment - OVS.

Thanks it is rare early mask.I know all about it. HDS magazine had a couple of articles about it.
Two great posts
The discovery of the "Oguhi peerless respirator" as I recall was the US patent description was discovered in the US by a very dear friend Nyle Monday
Nyle was /is a very unique individual, I do not know his history but he had a masters degree in oriental languages and was fluent in Japanese and as I recall a dialect of two of Chinese.
25 years ago I was on the founding board of directors of the American Historical Diving Society (HDS.) . One event I organized and presented was a two day diving bibliophile rally (meeting) which was held at my rather spacious home in CenCal.
Nyle was in attendance and presented documents he had discovered amd was researching on a 1918 Japanese SCUBA Unit. That was the beginning of awareness of the "Oguhi peerless respirator". in the US
And it all happened in my living room !
Keep up the good work !
Enjoyed the movie- I played water Polo in high school- so many memories
Sam Miller, 111


Sam Miller III, Yesterday at 7:16 AM Edit IP Report
Oguhi peerless respirator
Yes! That is correct name in English :) (oguShi)
Historical Perspective and Risk Management - By Dr. Glen Egstrom - History of SCUBA Diving

In 1918, ‘Ohgushi's Peerless Respirators" had been invented, patented, and put into production by the Tokyo Submarine Industrial Company. Was used by the Japanese Navy, on salvage work and used for coral fishing. According to the company's literature: ‘The Ohgushi's breathing apparatus (diving machine) of our company is of the invention of a Japanese. It is the newest machine patented not only in Japan, but also in Europe and America, and is provided with all the arrangements wanting in other kinds of machines. It is not too much to say that it holds the unique position among diving machines of the world’.

The respirator is shown as being capable of use with one or two compressed air cylinders, or as a ‘surface demand’ valve which is supplied from the Watanabe four-cylinder reciprocating hand pump. According to the document the hand pump was capable of producing a pressure of 200 Bar. Furthermore, according to the document:

1. ‘The experiment made in October, 1918, upon the diving apparatus of Yokosuka Harbor in the presence of the Naval authorities by their request won their high favor, and by their request the machine was adopted in each and every naval station.’

2. ‘The machine was employed during the years extending from 1918 to 1919 in the taking into parts the Norwegian vessel CALENDAR sunk outside Nagasaki Harbor at the depth of 200 feet of water and accomplished its object to the satisfaction. Another successful employment of the machine was made in taking into parts the English vessel NILE at the depth of 200 feet off the coast of Yamaguchi prefecture in 1919.’

3. ‘In July of 1919 by the request of the Kohchi prefectural authorities, three different experiments were made upon the diving machine in the presence of the local prefectural authorities, members of the Fishery Association, journalists and others, and obtained the following results:

No. of Expt. Place Depth Time
------------ ----------------- ------ ----------------
1 Off Ashizuri-zaki 282 ft. 10 mins. 10 secs.
2 Off Kano-zaki 324 ft. 9 mins. 10 secs.
3 Off Kano-zaki 284 ft. 15 mins. 00 secs.

Afterwards, we succeeded in collecting corals at the depth of 375 feet of water in the same prefecture.’

Above the Watanabe four-cylinder reciprocating hand pump. According to the document this pump could achieve a pressure of 200 bar, unfortunately there is no technical drawing or explanation which shows the exact functioning of the pump but it could well be that is was inspired by the booster pumps which were manufactured by the German company Dräger in Lübeck since the early 1900’s.

How did the Ohgushi respirator work? The respirator itself was remarkably similar to our present day dive masks. Oval in appearance, it covered the eyes and nose, and was made of rubber with a face glass clamped in by a metal band. It was held on the face by a simple harness made of stretchable rubber tubes held together with a hook and eye at the back of the head. Attached to the bottom of the mask, in line with the mouth, but no penetrating the mask at this point, is an ordinary mushroom type valve, held shut by a rubber sleeve around the stem. Air, whether from a surface pump or from the cylinder(s) on the back is fed into the valve and, from above the seating, it is led by an external pipe into an air inlet at the side of the mask. Projecting from the rear of this valve are two levers, one above the other, one fixed, the other pivoted, and these are held between the teeth. To obtain air, the diver clenches his teeth and inhales through his nose. To exhale, he opens his teeth, shutting the valve, exhaling through his mouth.

Ohgushi Peerless Respirator: The first ever regulator? | Underwater360
“Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter”
– African Proverb

Walter Benjamin famously said that “history is written by the victors”, and the truth of this mantra repeats throughout the inventing timeline over and over; take the unsung hero of the second industrial revolution, Nikola Tesla, whose work was stolen by Thomas Edison, or Daisuke Inoue who never made a million from his karaoke machine.

Time and time again, great inventors become overshadowed by corporations or people that take the credit for their work. What follows is just another tale in a library full of broken dreams: we bring you the mystery of the Ohgushi Peerless Respirator.

One of the first scuba regulators is born – in Japan
In 1904, Watanabe Riichi, Omura Clansman of Kyushu, Japan, graduated from the Tokyo Fisheries Institute, a university of marine science and technology. He quickly became engaged in fisheries research, and established the Takashima Cultured Pearls Enterprise in Nagasaki Prefecture, a first for Japan.

It was here that he began his first steps towards the invention of the mask-style respirator with the assistance of local blacksmith Ohgushi Kanezo, after whom the invention would later be named. Their aim was to design a self-contained diving system, using a similar mask design to that of the famous Ama divers, women who dived the Japanese waters bare-chested and harvested pearls. In 1916 Riichi went on to cooperate with Captain Kataoka Kyuhachi, to continue research and development for the respirator – it is here that Ohgushi Kanezo’s place in the story ends, and mystery surrounds his very own disappearance much like that of his eponymous invention.

By 1918, the first model of the Ohgushi Peerless Respirator was patented in Japan, and put into production by the Tokyo Submarine Industrial Company; a firm which was established specifically for the purpose of marketing the Ohgushi mask-style respirators, salvage works and for the business of collecting products from the sea floor, using this revolutionary new piece of technology.

They bet their lives on it
The development of the equipment attracted the attention of the Japanese Naval authorities, who requested a demonstration of this alien device that allowed people to freely breathe underwater. They arranged to view the apparatus at the Yokosuka Harbour. To prove that their equipment worked, either Watanabe Riichi or Captain Kataoka would have to risk their lives, diving an incredibly deep 60 metres to the murky, litterstrewn bottom of the harbour with ships hovering above like storm clouds.

Luckily, the demonstration was successful and the new device won high favour with the Japanese Naval authorities who decided to adopt the machine and use it at each and every naval station. Earlier that year Captain Kataoka had also travelled to the warm Polynesian waters, and carried out Ohgushi tests for six months; it was a machine that proved able to work in different conditions.

Treasures from deep
The Japanese Naval authorities were so confident in the device that the Ohgushi Peerless Respirator was used to salvage the wrecks of both the Norwegian vessel Calendar outside Nagasaki Harbour, and the British vessel Nile off the Yamaguchi Prefecture. These operations were carried out at a staggering 60 metres deep, and the official advertising pamphlet claimed the equipment had been dived to 114 metres – if correct, this would have been an amazing result even for today’s scuba equipment.

The Ohgushi Respirator was also used to salvage the S.S. Yasaka Maru, famously sunk by a German submarine off the mouth of the river Nile with 45 tons of sterling gold coins in her safe. Working for three months, 10 divers succeeded in recovering 99 percent of the gold from a depth of 76 metres.

The Ohgushi was becoming widely successful, and in 1919, the British patenting office patented the Ohgushi Respirator (no. 131,390), followed by the US (no. 1,331,601) in 1920.

In 1922, Captain Kataoka and three divers sailed to Thursday Island, part of a small archipelago that sits in the Torres Strait, Australia, to test the Ohgushi Peerless Respirator in the deep sea by collecting pearl oyster shells at a depth of up to 79 metres. The test was highly successful, and showed the Torres Strait Oyster Guild, who were present, exactly why they should start using the Ohgushi equipment to improve their harvesting.

A deal was struck between the Torres Strait Pearl Guild and Captain Kataoka for Ohgushi to be used in Australasia. A contract was made for around SGD 14,000, and the Japanese team received SGD 500 as option money and happily returned to Japan with their eyes on the larger prospect; Ohgushi was about to take over the world.

Subterfuge and sabotage?
But in life, when things look on the up, there always seems to be someone who wants to bring you down. In this case it was the British Homeland Diving Equipment Manufacturers and Dealers, who heard of the success of Ohgushi and the proposed contract, which would make the Japanese the leading pioneers of the diving industry. To counter this, they spitefully launched an opposition campaign to stop the completion of the deal. There was so much overwhelming pressure on the Guild from high-power members that they were forced to cancel the contract.

There was nothing Riichi or Captain Kataoka could do. Ohgushi’s deal was cut and soon afterwards they silently fizzled out of the public eye like a firework with water damage. It wasn’t until two decades later that a suspiciously similar mask that covered the eyes and nose turned up in the Western world, and its “inventor” was declared a pioneer of the industry. Meanwhile, half the world away, the efforts of three bright inventors were nothing but a memory.

The truth will out
In 1972, Captain W.O. Shelford published an article in the British magazine Triton, announcing his discovery of a device called “Ohgushi”, developed in Japan, which predated any modern mask developments. The buzz to find the truth behind the Ohgushi mask was on, yet still to this day, many facts and historical records appear misplaced (or rather lost) and the details behind what exactly happened to the fantastic invention remain a mystery.


Captain Kataoka Kyuhachi, developer of the respirator that should have changed the course of scuba diving history


US1331601A - Respirator - Google Patents
FYI I was the co-founder and first "Legend of diving " so many years ago.

Dr. Glen Egstrom and I go back to 1964 and are in frequent contact
He is approaching 90 and is now wheel chair bound but still active

What a great list !
I think I will call Gen and chat with him about it

Even though I was involved in the legends I was unaware of his article ! At one time they were being presented at a rapid rate and the secretary rushed them into print

Please keep up the great research- It is certainly needed and appreciated !

Sam Miller, III
The greatest thanks to @Akimbo for information about - Title page - and Ogushi mask there!
There is more information on Ed Link’s Submerged Portable Inflatable Dwelling (SPID) in the Journal of Diving History, First Quarter 2016, Volume 24, Number 86.
By Dr. Joseph B. MacInnis
Adapted from, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, March 1966
Page 44
There is very big article, related to Ogushi mask. Just from the beginning
Ohgushi’s Peerless Respirator
By Nyle C. Monday

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