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.
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
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.
Mainland Japanese Arsenals
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
Osaka Arsenal is reported to have
made about 120,000 bayonets in 1944-45. The bayonets attributed to
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
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.
This is another of the “mystery
marks”. For a long time it was just called “
In 1938 Nagoya Arsenal started
subcontracting bayonet production to civilian companies. Bayonets made by
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 “
Kaneshiro Sakuganki (Kaneshiro Rock
Drill) was a company that made mining equipment. Its head office was in
Another relatively recently
identified maker, Riken Kozai’s mark is frequently called “
Japan’s Colonial Arsenals
Mukden Arsenal in
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.
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 is a city in northern
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 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,
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
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.