top of page

15 X 80 60° binocular Nikko, Nippon Kogaku

Before 1917, Japan imported most of their optics from Germany and wanted to create a reliable national source, especially since the start of WWI had made it impossible to continue optical glass imports.

Fujii Brothers manufactured the first Japanese binoculars in 1911 in Tokyo. In 1917, Fujii joined Keiki Seisaku Sho, and Iwaki Glass to form Nippon Kogaku (also known as Japan Optical Company) to manufacture optical munitions. They are known initially for producing rangefinders and microscopes before the mergers.

Experience and knowledge of optical glass within these companies date back before 1880.

In 1915 it wasn't easy to import German optical glass, so the Japanese Naval Institute of Technology in Tokyo started to develop their own. They sent students to Germany and England to learn about optical lenses, and manufacturing began by 1918. Unfortunately, the earthquake in 1923 destroyed the Institute, and the technical staff joined Nippon Kogaku.

When these companies merged, they were known as Nippon Kogaku Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha, abbreviated to Nippon Kogaku KK, that eventually became the Nikon Corporation.

Nippon Kogaku KK provided optics for the Japanese Armed Forces so they no longer needed to rely on outside sources. In 1921, Nippon Kogaku KK recruited seven German technicians with extensive experience in optics to improve on their brand. The technicians worked with the team for five years and were responsible for introducing binoculars, telescopes, and aerial photographic lenses to the list of products available to the Japanese military.

The U.S. and Britain focused on developing radar in the 1930s and 1940s while Japan continued their development of binoculars. They did not think they needed radar, which later proved to be a great mistake.

The teams continued to work together after the signing of the Axis Tripartite Pact in 1940. During the same period, a well-known German scientific instrument maker, Carl Zeiss, allowed Japan to access practically all their patents at no cost.

All Japanese warships had naval binoculars, such as the 15 X 80 60° binocular, mounted on 90-foot towers. They could see 20 miles away because of the big eye marine binocular design, which captured as much light as possible.

When the United States captured Japanese ships, they would take the binoculars apart to reverse engineer the technology in hopes of being used by the U.S. Navy.

The 15 X 80 60° big eye binocular, by Nippon Kogaku, provided more comfort to Japanese military personnel tasked with looking into the sky for long periods. They have a 60° eyepiece viewing angle for reconnaissance.


Green 15 X 80 60° binoculars meant they were used by the Imperial Navy and tan/brown color when used by the army. Here are more particulars:

· 60° eyepiece viewing angle and image angle

· Amici roof prism combined with a Rhomboid prism

· Adjustable Individual eyepieces

· 21 inches long and 13 inches wide

· Dry air desiccation ports

· Field of view: 4 degrees = 71 m/1,000 m; APFOV 60 degrees

· Weight: Approximately 7 kg

· Pupil: 5.3 mm

Some restored WWII Japanese binoculars that we currently have include the 20x120 Nikon Type II (pictured below)


bottom of page