The Bayonets Of Japan are some of the more fun bayonets to collect. The Japanese of course have always been known for their swords, fighting staffs and various other martial arts weapons, but they are also known for their collectable bayonets. After the Germans, the Japanese are probably some of the most sought after bayonets out there.
Knowing the good from the really good is often a matter of identifying the various markings. One of the more commonly known Japanese bayonets is called the Type 30 Arisaka or 30th Year bayonet.
The Type 30 were introduced in 1897 and it was this bayonet design that would plagued the American Troopers during WWII. As World War 2 pushed on, the Japanese bayonet quality control rapidly deteriorated and the bayonet was modified to save resources. The hooked quillion gave way to straight crossguards, shaped grips were replaced with straight pamels and squared grips, and the blades were made without the fuller (that recessed grove down the blade, also known as the blood grove). It got so bad, that near the end of the war, Bayonets were being fashioned without even rifle attachments.
Knowing some of the basics really helps identify and evaluate the Japanese bayonets.
There are over 200 different versions of the Type 30 Arisaka bayonet. The differences come from the variations of cross guards , pommels and grips as well as the various arsenals who built them.
Here are some of the basics
Contoured Birds head – Early War
Flat Birds head – Mid War
Rectangular – Late War
Cross Guard Types
Hooked – Early War
Straight – Mid War
Rectangular – Late War
Rectangular rounded top – Late War
Machine Screws – Early War
Wood Screws – Early War
Recessed Rivets – Mid War/Late War
Flush Rivets- Mid War/Late War
Contoured – Early War
Straight – Late War
Two of the most common markings are from the Tokyo Arsenal prior to 1936 (Kokura Arsenal 1936-45) and the Nagoya Arsenal. Most of the WWII Japanese bayonets you will happen upon will most likely have one of these 2 markings. If the bayonet has two markings, meaning one of the 2 above plus an additional one, that usually means the bayonet was made under supervision of one of the two arsenals. Other main arsenals included Jinsen Arsenal (Korea, looks like a star), Mukden Arsenal (Manchuria, looks like a steering wheel) and National Denki (National Electric, Looks like an Arrow).
Sometimes you will come across a Japanese bayonet that doesn’t have markings. Training bayonets usually have no arsenal markings. The edges of the blade are usually rounded and not sharp. Tips are usually blunted and not pointed. These were used in schools for training purposes. Serial numbers are normally a rack number from the school and the Japanese characters in the handles usually identify the school. Typically training bayonets tend to be a little more rare than traditional wartime bayonets.
A book called Bayonets Of Japan was written by Raymond C. LaBar, is probably your best source for Japanese Bayonets. The book is out of print and is rather tough to find. If you can find it though, it is pretty amazing. Raymond has amassed over Japanese bayonets and has a huge knowledge base. IMO Bayonets Of Japan is probably the best bayonet book out there for the Japanese Type 30 bayonet.
Here are some links that will help you out on your adventures finding Japanese bayonets.
Nambu World: Type 30 Bayonet Markings
Markings on Japanese Arisaka Rifles and Bayonets of World War II
Old Smithy Japanese Arisak Bayonets
Lawrence Ordnance has done an amazing job of detailing many of the Japanese bayonets with fantastic pictures and a great overview.
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