Japanese Bayonet History

Bayonets are derived from the French word Baionette which means a knife or sword shape weapon. This weapon also doubles up as a spear. The Japanese, German and Italian armies all have their separate interpretations of bayonets. However, one thing is common and that is that each of their versions have a thrusting spear like shape. Bayonets are known in Japan as Jyu Ken.

This was one of the most important weapons that are used by Japanese troops for more than 75 years. The martial arts training that these troops received fully maximize their ability to use these weapons. Among the Japanese Bayonets, Type 30 was the most popular one. Bayonets are sword like implements fixed at the end of a rifle muzzle usually with a stabbing blade. This weapon is used for hand to hand fighting. Psychological warfare gives users some form of power however; much later on in the war it was impossible to fight tanks using bayonets. This can be compared to Don Quixote trying to fight windmills with his sword. Japanese morale was at its highest because of specific factors which include devotion to the Emperor, Samurai tradition and their eternal belief in their destiny as a nation.  

The soldiers were taught that they are invincible having an Emperor with god like origins. This indoctrination made them feel superior. This propaganda was repeatedly emphasized. Together with the use of such well-constructed weapons and this mind set there was no stopping the average Japanese “warrior”.  These soldiers were trained spiritually and not just physically.  This was done to create loyalty to the Emperor and to their nation.  Contrary to what others believe the soldiers were not train to throw their life as if it was not that important. The default setting for the soldiers’ mindset was never to commit suicide. Even in the midst of heavy indoctrination these soldiers still want to see their families after the war.  Japanese soldiers were rigidly train with or without weapons which made them great soldiers during that time. However, their belief was viewed sometimes as a form of zealotry.  Their training made them justify the killings made during the war.

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Kinds of Bayonet

  • Murata Bayonets. Before the advent of the famous M-30 there was three kinds of Murata use and these includes: M-13, M-18, Early type M-22 prototype and Later Type of M-22. The differences lie in the overall length, blade length and weight of these bayonets. Murata Japanese bayonets are also known as Murata jyu
  • Type 30 Bayonets Sword. This is also known as Sanjunen-Shiki Juken or Pattern 1897 Bayonets. This was designed specifically for the Imperial Japanese Army used for Arisaka Type 30 Rifle. This model was efficient because it can be used even for Type 38 and Type 99 rifles. The designed used for this was intended to allow Japanese infantryman Early Type 30 usually sported a hooked guard however, this distinctive look was replaced with straight hand guard. Type 30 Japanese bayonets has 18 distinct patterns but, there are three best known patterns which includes: hooked quillon, straight quillon and straight quillon with squared pommel. These has fixtures found on the scabbard: box type and bar spring type
  • M-32 Kou of 1899. This was more of a saber use by Japanese cavalrymen
  • M-95 Sword. This was designed for non-commissioned officers or NCO. It was mass produce and a cheaper verison of the piece used by officers. These swords are made by machines although this type cannot be classified as Katana as Katanas are handmade swords. However these bayonets sword is made by the hundreds of thousands in small factories of Japan
  • M-2 Japanese Bayonets. This piece was specifically made for parachute troops. The blade is darkened and the fuller is short
  • M-95 (1935). This has a belt and hanger and again made for NCO
  • MM-32 (1899) These are Japanese Bayonets for non-commissioned officers and artillery man

Japanese Bayonets Parts

Each of these Japanese Bayonets has these parts: arsenal mark, blade finish, fuller, cross guard, grip, grip fastener and pommel

  • Arsenal Marks. The blades of these Bayonets sword were marked to indicate different information about the sword. Information found on these marks includes blade strength, location of the manufacturer etc. These markings can be in the form of symbol either with the use of the letters of the alphabet and Kanji symbols. These are often found near the base of the tang or near the end section
  • Blade Finish. Sword polishing is part of creating Bayonets sword just like a regular sword. This is done after the forging process. This adds beauty to the sword even if in this case it will only be used in a rifle
  • Fuller. With the use of a blacksmithing tool also referred to as fuller grooves are produce in the flat side of the blade. These are also known as blood grooves or blood gutters. This is designed on the blade to lighten the blade. Simply put, a blade is said to be “fullered” because of the presence of the groove. This was derived from the Old English word fuller which means one who pleats cloth
  • Crossguard is also known as quillon. This was developed to protect the welders hand from getting hurt. Crossguards were used to fight enemies and to be able to grip the sword without sliding. Without having this part, it will be easy to cling and slash the user. Accidents do happen and this part can protect the owner. The common materials use for the crossguard includes: aluminum, bronze, brass, steel, titanium etc
  • Grips and Grip Fastener. This was modified from its previous shape of being square. Here are some of the Japanese Bayonet grip types: contoured, contoured wrap around, straight and straight wrap around
  • Pommel. Variations are made with this depending on who the maker is

Japanese Bayonet Identification Arsenal

  • Tokyo or Kokura Arsenal. These are the most popular bayonet that comes in different styles.  These bayonets has hooked or straight quillions. These have either bright or blue blades. Reworks are common with this type
  • Kokura Arsenal (Osaka). These are classified as rare Japanese bayonets.  Three points are protruding from the cannon balls. This is what collectors are seeking for because of its scarcity
  • Mukden Arsenal. This arsenal is in China.  These has hooked or straight quillions. Some of these bayonets are made to fit a bamboo pole
  • Toyokawa Naval Arsenal. This arsenal is known for producing training bayonets. However, it was also famous for producing Navy Special Type 99 rifle. These navy type does not have the arsenal mark on the blade
  • Hikari Seiki Arsenal. This is commonly known as Tokyo Hourglass. This was a subcontractor of the Kokura arsenal. The same attributes found on the different arsenal can be found on the bayonets that they make however, these also includes both fullered or non-fullered blades
  • Matsushita Kinzoku.  Again, this was a subcontractor of Kokura arsenal. This arsenal is now known as modern day Panasonic Electronics
  • Toyoda Jido Shokki Seisakusho Arsenal. Some of the variations that this arsenal made were rare. However, they also made some common ones. They also made rectangular and rounded rectangular cross guards. Some of these are made of leather scabbards and rubberized ones. Still others were made of loose weave canvass materials
  • Kaneshiro Sakuganzi Seizo Arsenal. This is also known as Nagoya Star K
  • Aisan Kogyo Arsenal. In high grade condition, collectors seek to collect these
  • Riken Kozai. This was another subcontractor but this time connected with Nagoya arsenal

How Are Serial Markings Made

The earliest and more popular bayonet would have to be those that belong to Type 30. Most serial numbers can be found on the top of the tang however, generally speaking these can be found at the back of the pommel.  After bayonet production reached more than 3 million, Japan started to add a series marker. This series runs from 1 to 99,999.  Katakana phonetic symbols were use but, it appears to be angular. Later on pairs where marked with rounded hiragana phonetic symbols.

  • Serial Number without Series Markers. This was produce by Kokura Arsenal thus eventually they name this as Kokura bayonet
  • Series Marker with One Katakana Symbol.  This has the Katakana symbol in a circle. The symbols were damaged though.  The symbols are either poorly struck or it has undergo natural wear and tear because of constant pounding on the pommel in case the bayonet cannot fit into a rifle
  • Series Marker with Two Hiragana Symbol. This was the pommel made by Toyoda Automatic Looms under the supervision of Nagoya Arsenal. The two characters used are Hiragana symbol ro and chi
  • Inspection Marks. These are Kanji characters on the back of the pommel. Although there are some cases that Katakana were used that appear in other parts of the bayonet

Different Versions of Type 30

Type 30 was considered to be one of the bayonet designs that gave American troopers headache during World War II. As World War 2 progress, the qualities of these bayonets has gone down since these were modified.

  • Hilt End. This part has change depending on which part of the war. Contoured Bird was use during the early part of the war. Flat Birds head were use in Mid-War while Rectangular head was used during Late War
  • Cross Guard Types. Hooked shapes were use during early war. Straight cross guards were used during mid-war. Rectangular shape was use during late war and rectangular rounded top was use for late war as well
  • Grip Type. Early war call for the use of machine screw and wood screws. Mid war and late war used recessed rivets and flush rivets
  • Other Grip Types. Use contoured grips during early war and straight grip during late war

Modern warfare is connected to death at a distance. Almost all armies of that fight during World War II were equipped with bayonets for their rifles. This was spear like and was easy to thrust against the enemy during battle. This weapon aids the slow loading muskets. Infantries were left vulnerable to attack from their enemies once a volley of fire starts to strike. Even if bolt action rifles were accurate in producing higher rates of fire, still bayonets remain standard infantry equipment.  The spirit of the bayonet involves meeting and destroying the enemy.  For those who are holding these weapons, they demoralize their enemies by striking fear in their hearts even in the midst of bombings and grenade.  In some cases those who use this weapon also throw grenades for good measure to ensure that their enemies are dead. Almost all of these bayonets were knife bayonets that allowed the user to fire the rifle even when the bayonet is attached to the rifles. This also doubles up as a field utility knife when remove from the rifle in case there are no bullets. However, it took some time for Japan to catch up because these they once use long bayonet with long Arisaka rifle.

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There are more than 200 variations of this weapon. New collectors must not be surprise if they found bayonets without markings because these are training bayonets hence there is no need for arsenal marks. This training piece has tips with blunt and has no point. These are used for schools where the serial number use rack number from the school. Bayonets of Japan are considered to be fun to collect. For those who are interested in anything connected with Japan collecting can be a considered a joy. Japanese militia collectors especially those who want to collect bayonets are waiting to complete their personal arsenal of Japanese weapons. Owning these completes their proud collection. Surprisingly, it is not just locals who love to collect these. Japan has always been known for their martial arts and other weaponries before firearms and its implements enter into the picture. After the Germans, Japanese made bayonets are probably the most sought after among collectors.