Nambu World: Type 30 Bayonet Markings

            Type 30 bayonets usually have three kinds of markings. The first and most important are the markings that identify who made the bayonet. The second are the series and serial numbers. These are fairly well understood but not that important for most purposes. The last type are inspection marks. These are not very well understood yet, but could yield some important information once we understand them better. This section covers these three types of markings in turn. Bayonets that have characters stamped or painted onto the grips are usually training bayonets, though sometimes unit or other extra markings were added to regular bayonets in this way.   

Manufacturers’ Marks

            This section shows extreme close-up photos of the manufacturers’ marks on Japanese Type 30 bayonets. The Type 30 fits on all the common Japanese rifles from the Type 30 (1897) onwards and accounted for over 95% of Japan’s total bayonet production. These marks are usually found on the ricasso (the part of the blade right in front of the crossguard) on the right side. They are meant to be viewed with the bayonet held upright (the point up in the air), like this.

            If your bayonet looks like a Type 30 but does not have a manufacturer’s mark, it is probably a training bayonet, as these did not generally have such markings, or serial numbers either, for that matter.

            The two main arsenal marks are the Tokyo Arsenal mark, later used by Kokura Arsenal, and the Nagoya Arsenal mark. First I will show these mainland Japanese arsenal marks, then the Kokura Arsenal subcontractors, then the Nagoya Arsenal subcontractors, then Japan’s colonial arsenals in Mukden (Manchuria) and Jinsen (Korea), and finally other makers’ marks.

            On blued bayonets I have used a white grease pencil to make the marks stand out. This is something collectors do to highlight the markings on their guns, bayonets, etc. and make them easier for viewers to see when they are displayed; it was never done by the Japanese at the factory. Since the white in the markings is just grease, it comes out easily with any solvent like paint thinner or gun cleaner.

            The book Nippon no Gunyoju to sogu (“Japanese Military Small Arms and Equipment”) by Shigeo Sugawa is in Japanese but has English captions on most of the photos and tables. It is a very beautifully produced book full of gorgeous colour photos and contains a wealth of information that is not in other books. Pages 107 to 116 cover bayonets. References to Sugawa refer to that book. Sugawa’s production estimates were reportedly provided by Larry Johnson, author of the now long out-of-print bible on Japanese bayonets, Japanese Bayonets: The Definitive Work on Japanese Bayonets, 1870 to the present.


Mainland Japanese Arsenals

Tokyo/Kokura Arsenal

            The first arsenal that made Type 30 bayonets was Tokyo Arsenal. Their mark is supposed to represent a pile of four cannonballs viewed from the top; whether by coincidence or not, it vaguely resembles the mark of the German company Krupp. This exact same mark was later used by Kokura Arsenal, which has caused no end of confusion among collectors. Sugawa (p. 109) states that Tokyo made Type 30 bayonets from 1897 to 1923. After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, production was transferred to Kokura, starting in 1924 and continuing until 1937. Production was then transferred to subcontractors until 1943. In 1944-45, Tokyo resumed production. Tokyo made about 3,100,000 bayonets during the early period. Kokura made about 120,000, and then the final Tokyo production was another 92,000 (Sugawa’s figures from p. 109).

            Osaka Arsenal is reported to have made about 120,000 bayonets in 1944-45. The bayonets attributed to Osaka have a mark like the Tokyo/Kokura one but with little tick marks sticking out at the points where the circles intersect. I have seen almost nothing written about these bayonets.


Nagoya Arsenal

            Sugawa (p. 109) states that Nagoya Arsenal engaged in bayonet production itself in 1936-37, and then supervised subcontractors. The Nagoya mark, shown below, is supposed to represent the two shachi, or mythical dolphins, that adorn the ends of the roof of Nagoya’s castle, the city’s chief landmark, and are supposed to be its protectors. If you use your imagination, the two horn-like parts between the outer circle and the two inner circles could be thought of as the bodies of fish-like creatures with their tails in the air, and the small circle at the bottom representing their heads. Sugawa puts Nagoya Arsenal production at about 87,000 units (p. 109).


Kokura Arsenal Subcontractors

            As the war in China heated up, the arsenals themselves focused on making more complicated weapons and subcontracted the production of bayonets to civilian companies starting in 1938. Bayonets made by Kokura subcontractors have the arsenal logo on the left and a company logo on the right.


Matsushita Kinzoku

            Matsushita Kinzoku (Matsushita Metals) was part of the Matsushita Group. Surviving group members now make electronics under the National and Panasonic brands. Sugawa estimates production at 900,000, the second-highest among the subcontractors. Some late bayonets have only the “arrow-M” company logo, without the arsenal mark.


Hikari Seiki

            This is another of the “mystery marks”. For a long time it was just called “Nagoya hourglass”, but it is now known to be the mark of Hikari Seiki, an optical goods company that was located in Tokyo. The logo on the right is actually not an hourglass, but a prism. Unfortunately, in the Sugawa book “prism” is incorrectly transcribed into English as “prison” in a photo caption (p. 112), an error that has been repeated by many authors and bayonet collectors who can only read the English captions and not the accompanying text. Sugawa gives production as 450,000 units (p. 113).



Nagoya Arsenal Subcontractors

            In 1938 Nagoya Arsenal started subcontracting bayonet production to civilian companies. Bayonets made by Nagoya subcontractors have the arsenal logo on the right and a company logo on the left.


Toyoda Automatic Looms

            In Japanese this subcontractor’s name was Toyoda Jido Shokki Seisakusho, known in English as Toyoda Automatic Loom Manufacturing. This company went into automobile manufacturing, then spun that division off into a separate (but closely related) company in August, 1937. Today the loom company is known in English as Toyota Industries and the car company is the much more famous Toyota Jidosha, known in English as Toyota Motors. They continue to be closely related: Toyota Industries is the largest single shareholder in Toyota Motors, with 5.3% of its shares, and Toyota Motors in the largest single shareholder in Toyota Industries, with 24.5% of its shares. The company still exists today: it is the largest shareholder in Toyota Motors, and Toyota Motors is the largest shareholder in it. Toyoda was the largest bayonet subcontractor. Sugawa (p. 113) says Johnson gives their total production as 1,400,000. The logo on the left appears to have something like a spindle in the centre. To the right is the Nagoya Arsenal symbol, of course.


Aisan Kogyo (unconfirmed)

            This mark has long been a bit of a mystery but is now believed to be the mark of Aisan Kogyo, a Nagoya-based company. It is known to have made other products marked with a similar logo, but with the triangle the other side up. Collectors often call this mark “Nagoya triangle” for obvious reasons. Sugawa (p. 113) cites an estimate by Johnson that total production came to 350,000 units.


Kaneshiro Sakuganki

            Kaneshiro Sakuganki (Kaneshiro Rock Drill) was a company that made mining equipment. Its head office was in Nagoya, but the factory was in nearby Gifu prefecture. For a long time this mark was known to English-speaking collectors simply as “star-K”. Given the long Japanese name, I suspect many will continue to call it that. The Sugawa book incorrectly transcribes the first part of the name as Kaneshiyo instead of Kaneshiro (p. 112), an error that has been repeated by those who have relied only on the English captions in the book. Kaneshiro literally means “metal castle”. Sugawa suggests production totaled about 300,000 units.


Riken Kozai

            Another relatively recently identified maker, Riken Kozai’s mark is frequently called “Nagoya diamond”. The company’s headquarters was in Gunma prefecture, but the factory was in Tokyo. Production is estimated by Sugawa at around 250,000 units, the lowest of any of the subcontractors.


Japan’s Colonial Arsenals

            Japan had two large arsenals on the Asian mainland. Mukden Arsenal was in Manchuria, in the city called Hoten by the Japanese and now known as Shenyang, People’s Republic of China. While not technically a colony, Japan had near-total de facto sovereignty over large parts of Manchurian territory that it held under leases taken over from the Russians at the end of the Russo-Japanese War, and controlled the rest through the puppet Emperor Pu Yi of Manchukuo. Jinsen Arsenal was located in Korea, an integral part of the Japanese Empire after it was formally annexed in 1910. Jinsen is now known as Inchon, a city on the west coast of South Korea. These bayonets seem to be scarcer than their production figures would suggest since many of them were issued to troops on the Asian mainland who surrendered to the Russians or Chinese. They were therefore not available to souvenir-hunting US troops, who brought back most of the bayonets now available to collectors.


Mukden Arsenal

            Mukden Arsenal in Manchuria began bayonet production in August, 1939 and produced about 270,000 units (Sugawa, p. 114).


Jinsen Arsenal

            Jinsen Arsenal began bayonet production in December, 1940 and made about 450,000 units (Sugawa, p. 114). I have heard people call this mark the “pumpkin star” mark.


Other Manufacturers

            There were two other makers of Type 30 bayonets. The identity of one is still somewhat uncertain, while the other was a Chinese arsenal captured by the Japanese that made only a very small number of bayonets late in the war.


Toyokawa Naval Arsenal (unconfirmed)

            This mark, commonly called the “rocking star”, or “star and anchor” mark, is widely believed to have been used by Toyokawa Naval Arsenal. Johnson observes that bayonets with this mark have many features in common with training bayonets. Sorry the diagram is a bit wobbly; I drew this mark myself.


Tientsin Arsenal

            Tientsin is a city in northern China. After its capture by the Japanese, the arsenal was pressed into service by the conquering forces. It was supposed to start bayonet production in 1945 but seems to have made only a very small number. I have drawn this mark myself since I do not have one to photograph. Now you can see why I didn’t go into art or drafting! The right part consists of three concentric circles. The left part is the Japanese katakana phonetic symbol te, which is the first one in the Japanese pronunciation of the city’s name, i.e. Tenshin.


Serial & Series Markings

            The earliest Type 30 bayonets had serial numbers on the top of the tang, but the vast majority have the serial number on the back of the pommel. When Type 30 bayonet production was nearing 3,200,000, the Japanese started to add a series marker. Each series would run from 1 to 99,999, so there would never be more than five numbers. At first the series markers were katakana phonetic symbols, which tend to look rather angular, but later on pairs of more rounded hiragana phonetic symbols were used to denote the series. Here are examples of a pre-series marker serial number, a one-katakana series marker and serial number, and a two-hiragana series marker and serial number.


Serial Number with No Series Markers

            Here is the pommel of a Variation A bayonet made by Kokura Arsenal prior to the introduction of series markers. The Price book refers to this as the 20th series. It attributes the 20th series to Tokyo Arsenal, but the small characters down below the digits 34 are inspection marks that say “Kokura”, so I have called it a Kokura bayonet.


Series Marker Consisting of One Katakana Symbol

            All the bayonets I have that have one katakana as a series marker have the katakana symbol in a circle. The symbols are also all either poorly struck or worn or damaged from someone pounding on the pommel (probably to remove a tight-fitting bayonet from a rifle). This is the best of the bunch, as of February, 2007. The little symbol in the circle to the left of the first digit in the serial number (85192) is a katakana shi on a Variation A bayonet made by Aisan Kogyo. According to the Price book, this makes it a 42nd series (this series was split amongst three makers).


Series Marker Consisting of Two Hiragana Symbols

            This is the pommel of a Variation B bayonet made by Toyoda Automatic Looms under Nagoya Arsenal supervision. The two characters before the serial number 69850 are the hiragana symbols ro and chi. The little mark above the digits 98 is a poorly struck inspection marks, the kanji na (as in Nagoya).


Inspection Marks

            Inspection marks usually appear as small kanji characters on the back of the pommel, although some are also in katakana and the marks sometimes appear elsewhere as well. Not much has been written about inspection marks on Type 30 bayonets, but from examination of those in my collection it seems like inspection was often performed by the arsenal that was closest to the production site, not necessarily the one who subcontracted the production and whose mark appears on the ricasso. Here are a couple of examples.

            This first one is on a Variation C bayonet made by Matsushita Kinzoku as a subcontractor to Kokura Arsenal. However, the inspection mark is the kanji saka, as in Osaka, which was commonly used as an inspection mark by Osaka Arsenal. It is the mark down below the digit 6 in the serial number. Matsushita’s head office was in Osaka and its factories were in nearby Shiga Prefecture, so it may have been more convenient to have inspectors from that arsenal handle their production. Kokura was a long ways away.


            The second example is a Variation B bayonet made by Riken Kozai as a subcontractor for Nagoya Arsenal. It has the kanji character To as in Tokyo used as an inspection mark. This mark is located straight down from the digit 1 in the serial number. Riken Kozai was in the Tokyo area, so again this may have been an arrangement of convenience.

            I have heard that there is an author working on a new bayonet book, so hopefully it will be able to cast more light on this question. I have asked several people who know a lot more about bayonets than I do and none of them seemed to be aware of any systematic study of this point.


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Last updated: February 20, 2007. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.