Nambu World: Japanese Type 30 Bayonets for the Arisaka Rifle

*****See the bottom of this page for a link to great new book on Japanese bayonets!!!!*****

            The most common Japanese bayonet by far was the Type 30, which was used on most of the Japanese rifles from 1897 to 1945. It was even attached to light machine guns! The designation Type 30 comes from its adoption in the 30th year of the reign of the Meiji Emperor, i.e. 1897 (the Meiji Emperor was Emperor Hirohito’s grandfather). The overall length of a typical Type 30 bayonet is 510 mm (20-1/16”), with the blade comprising 398 mm (15-5/8”)  of that. The ball-tipped scabbards are about 415 mm (16-3/8”) long, while the tube-tip scabbards are just a tad shorter (by about 1 mm). The total length of a Type 30 bayonet in its scabbard is about 525 mm or 20-11/16”inches. Weights vary slightly due to the amount of metal used in the different crossguards, etc., but a Variation A bayonet weighs about 470 grams (just over a pound) and the scabbard another 200 grams (7 ounces), for a total of 670 grams, or 1.5 pounds.

            From their introduction until the late 1930s the Type 30 changed little, but then as the need for increased production drew in various subcontractors and colonial arsenals and wartime shortages forced simplifications in production, a huge number of variations arose, some of which are very scarce. The above photo shows typical early, mid-production and late examples. You could do a very interesting collection just of this one type. I have a reasonable sampling of Type 30 bayonets, but you would need hundreds of specimens for a “complete” collection.

            Besides the markings of the many different manufacturers, including private contractors, there are several major differentiating features in the crossguard, blade, pommel, grips and scabbards. This section, which is in the early phases of construction, will illustrate these different features, summarize the different variations and provide links to detailed sections on each of my bayonets. The photos show the grip end of the bayonet with just enough of the blade to allow you to tell whether it has a fuller (“blood groove”) or not. I have angled some of the bayonets so you can see key features that would not be visible in a straight-on view. Most of the early types were made in both bright and blued blade styles; this does not affect their classification as to variation, although the Johnson book does have a finer level of categorization using numbers where each variation is assigned a different number based on manufacturer and whether the blade is bright or blued. This yields 143 different sub-categories! Here I will just focus on variation identification, though I will specify the specific number (like JB-33) of each of the bayonets I have in its relevant section. For the most part it is more informative to describe a bayonet as “Variation X with blued blade made by manufacturer Y” rather than citing the JB number, which the other person will just have to look up anyway. At the bottom of this page you will also find subsections on frogs, other bayonet-related items, things to look out for when buying a Type 30 bayonet and references on bayonets including links to other helpful websites.

            I have already completed a section on bayonet markings so you can identify who made your bayonet.

            To go to that section, please click here: Nambu World: Japanese Type 30 Bayonet Markings

 

Variation A Bayonets

            This was the first and most numerous variation, with over three million made between the commencement of production and around 1940. I have several of these. The Johnson book indicates nine producers made this variation. I have several of this style. Please click below to see more detailed photos of each.

Early Tokyo Arsenal Variation A Bayonets: (to come)

Tokyo Arsenal Variation A Bayonet: Nambu World: Tokyo Arsenal Variation A Bayonet

Nagoya Arsenal Variation A Bayonets: (to come)

Kokura Arsenal Variation A Bayonet: (to come)

Aisan Kogyo Variation A Bayonets: (to come)

Toyoda Variation A Bayonet: (to come)

Mukden Arsenal Variation A Bayonets: (to come)

Toyokawa Naval Arsenal (Rocking Star) Variation A bayonet: (to come)

Type A-style Training Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation B Bayonets

            This variation is very similar to A but the crossguard is straight with a rounded bottom.

Please click below to see more detailed photos of my variation B bayonets.

Toyoda Variation B Bayonet: Nambu World: Toyoda Variation B Bayonet

Kaneshiro Sakuganki Variation B Bayonet: (to come)

Riken Kozai Variation B Bayonet: (to come)

Toyokawa Naval Arsenal (Rocking Star) Variation B Bayonet: (to come)

Mukden Arsenal Variation B Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation C Bayonets

            This variation is very similar to A, with a hooked crossguard, but the pommel, while retaining the bird’s head silhouette, is flat on the sides. The grips are contoured but wrap around the tang and meet at the bottom instead of sandwiching the tang between the two grip panels (i.e. the bottom of the tang is not visible).

Please click below to see more detailed photos of my variation C bayonets.

Matsushita Variation C Bayonet: (to come)

Hikari Seiki Variation C Bayonet #1: (to come)

Hikari Seiki Variation C Bayonet #2: (to come)

Jinsen Arsenal Variation C Bayonet: (to come)

Matsushita “Osaka” Variation C Bayonets: (to come)

 

Variation D Bayonet

            This variation is very similar to C, but the crossguard is straight and its bottom is square, not rounded.

Please click below to see more detailed photos of my variation D bayonet.

Matsushita Variation D Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation E Bayonet

            I don’t have one of these yet, but Variation E is like Variation B but with an unfullered blade (no “blood groove”).

 

Variation F Bayonet

            This variation is like D but with an unfullered blade (no “blood groove”).

Please click below to see more detailed photos of my variation F bayonet.

Matsushita Variation F Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation G Bayonet

            I don’t have one of these yet, but this variation is like C but with a pommel that is rectangular instead of the bird’s head type found on Cs.

 

Variation H Bayonet

            This variation is very similar to G but the crossguard is straight, with contoured shape and rounded bottom.

Please click below to see more detailed photos of my variation H bayonets.

Jinsen Arsenal Variation H Bayonet: (to come)

Toyoda Variation H Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation I Bayonet

            This variation is very similar to H but the blade is unfullered (no “blood groove”).

Please click below to see more detailed photos of my variation I bayonet.

Toyoda Variation I Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation J Bayonet

            This variation is very similar to I but the straight crossguard is made from a plain rectangular piece of flat steel that is not contoured.

Please click below to see more detailed photos of my variation J bayonet.

Toyoda Variation J Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation K Bayonet

            I don’t have one of these yet, but this variation is like J but with several small differences, most notably that the rectangular crossguard is rounded at the top and the grips are straight.

 

Variation L Bayonet:

I don’t have one of these yet but it is similar to M described below but with a hooked crossguard.

 

Variation M Bayonet:

            This has an unfullered, blued blade, straight crossguard that is square at the bottom, straight, riveted grips and a flat-sided pommel with a bird’s head silhouette.

Please click below to see detailed photos of my Variation M Bayonets.

Hikari Seiki Variation M Bayonet: (to come)

Matsushita “only” Variation M Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation N Bayonet:

            I don’t have one of these yet. This one is very similar to M except that it has a rectangular crossguard that is like the one on Variation J but about ¼” longer.

 

Variation O Bayonet:

            This variation has an unfullered blade, straight crossguard, straight grips and flat-sided pommel with a bird’s head silhouette. It may have the “Rocking star” (“star & anchor”) marking believed to be associated with the Toyokawa Naval Arsenal or be devoid of any markings, without even a serial number. It has a short false edge. Some are painted black. There is speculation this may have been a training bayonet. It is often found with a rubberized canvas scabbard. The one I have has no markings and a somewhat battered rubberized canvas scabbard.

Unmarked Variation O Bayonet: (to come)

Rocking Star Variation M Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation P Bayonet:

            This has an unfullered blade, straight grips and pommel and straight crossguard. Some made by Jinsen arsenal have straight, square-tipped wooden scabbards that are lacquered brown and have no metal mouthpiece or retaining spring. This is the kind I have.

Jinsen Arsenal Variation P Bayonet: (to come)

 

Variation Q Bayonet:

            I don’t have one of these yet. They were only made in very small numbers by Tientsin Arsenal. While having the basic features of most late bayonets (no fuller, straight grips and pommel), they have some unique details like triangular-tipped wooden scabbards.

 

Scabbards:

            There are two main types of metal scabbards, ball-tipped (top) and tube-tipped (bottom). There are also two types of frog strap bands, contoured ones that were machined to shape and flat ones made of strip steel folded into shape. There are also variations of wooden scabbards based on colour, shape, length of metal tip attached to the end, etc. One novel type is a combination scabbard and frog made of rubberized canvas. In general I show the scabbards I have with the bayonets they came with, but do you know what’s inside a Type 30 scabbard? What holds the bayonet in place? How the scabbard was made? There actually several different variations of spring retention mechanisms inside that I will show here. (to come)

 

Frogs:

            The frog is the usually leather thing that secures the bayonet and scabbard to the soldier’s belt. There are many variations, including later ones that are made of rubberized canvas.

            One of my bayonets has the frog attached to the scabbard. You can see it at:

Nambu World: Toyoda Variation B Bayonet

            I have several other frogs that are not attached to a bayonet scabbard. You can see them at: (to come).

 

Other Bayonet-related Items:

            I have a number of other bayonet-related items I will eventually post here, including bayonet training manuals, postcards showing bayonet competitions, a bayonet competition sake cup, bayonet competition award certificate, U.S. Army “bring-back document” allowing a soldier to bring back a Japanese rifle and bayonet as war trophies, etc.

 

What to Look For When Buying a Type 30 Bayonet by Mail or eBay:

            Some of the things to look for are pretty obvious: you don’t want one that has a bent blade, is all rusty, has broken or missing parts, etc. However, there are a couple of things that you might not think to ask about, and that sellers won’t usually disclose unless you ask them, or better yet, request photos (some sellers are bald-faced liars, so photos are better than verbal descriptions). One thing is the condition of the rear of the pommel. Often this is rather beat-up. I think the reason may be that sometimes a bayonet would fit very tight on a given rifle, so the soldier may have used a rock or other aid to get the thing off by pounding on the pommel. You can diplomatically ask for a photo of this area by saying you would like a photo showing the markings (this is where the series marker, if any, the serial number, and the inspection marks are). Another is the condition of the scabbard, especially if it is wooden. Ask for detailed photos, especially near the tip and along the top and bottom where the seam between the two pieces of wood is. Sellers often have a cracked scabbard that they claim is perfect; when you get it, they say it was damaged in transit and they are not responsible, so tough luck. Also check whether the sharpening on the blade is original or whether it has been re-sharpened. Usually collectors like one that has only the original sharpening. Some bayonets were re-sharpened by the Japanese simply because they were used so much, but others may have been recently re-sharpened for use as machetes in clearing grass and weeds from some field in the USA, or simply because the seller mistakenly thought it would enhance their sales appeal. It is also a good idea to ask for close-ups of the last couple of inches of the blade. This seems to be the area most likely to have deep pitting, perhaps because of water gathering in the bottom of the scabbard. It is also where any chips or nicks are most likely to be.

 

For More Information on Japanese Bayonets…

            In early 2008 a brand new book on Japanese bayonets came out, Bayonets of Japan by Raymond C. LaBar. This 472-page book is a huge advance over anything previously available, with colour photos on almost every page and a great deal of new information that just wasn’t available when earlier works were published. You can find out more and order a copy at the author’s website, Bayonets of Japan. If you are serious about collecting Japanese bayonets, you need this book, which is certain to become the new “bible” in this field.

            All of the books on Japanese rifles also have sections on bayonets. Prior to the publication of the LaBar book in 2008, the most comprehensive work specifically on Japanese bayonets was Japanese Bayonets: The Definitive Work on Japanese Bayonets 1870 to the Present by Larry Johnson (Cedar Ridge Publications, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma), ISBN 0-9619789-0-2. Unfortunately, it was published in 1988, has long since been out of print and costs a fortune when you can find a copy (I paid over US$250 for mine, though I suspect demand and prices will decline now that the LaBar book it out). A work which complements the Johnson book nicely is Japanese Military Bayonets & Machetes by Jerry Price. This one emphasizes the non-standard and unusual stuff. It is available from the author, well-known collector Mr. Jerry Price. In particular, it has a couple of pages at the front that list all the different series and who made each one (in some cases a series was split among different manufacturers). That table alone is worth the modest cost of the volume.

            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. It is expensive and not easy to get but should be on the shelf of every serious collector of Japanese military weapons of any kind. A lot of the most important information in it regarding bayonets has been translated and incorporated into the LaBar book referred to above.

            There is a very informative page specializing in Japanese bayonets at: http://www.japanesebayonets.net.

 

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Last updated: February 21, 2008. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.