Lt Nobu Shirase (1861-1946) led Japan's first venture to the south in 1910-12. (His first name is given variously as Choku and Naoshi.) In the Kainan Maru the expedition reached the Ross Sea in early March of 1911. Not being able to land they returned to Australia. The expedition was back in the Ross Sea the following January and later landed at the Bay of Whales where they encountered some of Amundsen's party. Using dogs Shirase reached 80 deg 05 min S on January 28, 1912. The Shirase Coast and Glacier were named for him as was a Japanese icebreaker.
A postcard resides in the archives of the Scott Polar Research Institute that commemorates the expedition. Shown is a monument of stacked granite stones on which are affixed three bronze plaques (the uppermost being round, the others rectangular) and two bronze penguins set on the sides. The location is not noted but presumably it's in Japan. Can anyone provide additional details?
[Thanks to John Stewart's Antarctica-An Encyclopedia, 1990.]
As a result of the original posting of this episode, David Walton and William Mills have both told me about the Shirase Antarctic Expedition Memorial Museum at Kurokawa, Konoura-machi, Akita-ken 081-03, Japan.