Markings on Japanese Arisaka Rifles and Bayonets of World War II

Last Updated 09/07/2000

Adapted from Japanese Rifles of World War II, by Duncan O. McCollum, 1996, published by Excalibur Publications, PO Box 36, Latham, NY 12110-0036, USA, ISBN: 1-880677-11-3; and Military Rifles of Japan, by Fred. L. Honeycutt, Jr., and F. Patt Anthony, Fifth Edition, 1996, published by Julin Books, 5282 Ridan Way, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418, ISBN: 0-9623208-7-0. Bayonet information from Bayonets from Janzen's Notebook, by Jerry L. Janzen, published by Cedar Ridge Publications, 73 Cedar Ridge Road, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma 74011-1142, USA. ISBN: 0-9619789-1-0.

Table of bayonet variations added 09/07/2000.

Production figures added 08/05/2000.

Spelling of Col. Arisaka's name updated 06/25/2000, based on information supplied by his great-granddaughter.

Markings on Japanese Arisaka Rifles and Bayonets of World War II

The Japanese manufactured over 6.4 million rifles and carbines in the 40 years from 1906 to 1945. Most of these rifles were still in use during the Sino-Japanese War of the 1930s and the Pacific War of the 1940s. During the war and subsequent American occupation of Japan, thousands of these rifles found their way to the United States as war souvenirs, making them one of the most common foreign military firearms available in the country.

The Arisaka rifles are named for Colonel Nariaki Nariakira Arisaka, who headed a commission during the 1890s which was charged with developing a new rifle to replace the earlier models such as the Murata. The Arisaka rifles were designated with the year of the current emperor's reign. Thus, the Type 38 rifle was designed in the 38th year of the reign of Emperor Meiji (1905), and the Type 44 carbine was adopted in the 44th year of his reign (1911). During the reign of Hirohito, rifles were designated by the last one or two digits of the adoption year according to the standard Japanese calendar. Thus, the Type 99 rifle was adopted in Japanese calendar year 2599 (1939), and the Type 2 paratroop rifle was adopted in calendar year 2602 (1942).

A chrysanthemum with 16 petals (the symbol of the Japanese Emperor) was usually stamped on the receiver of rifles manufactured for the Imperial Japanese Army, indicating that the rifle belonged to the Emperor. The chrysanthemum resembles this:

The chrysanthemum was at least partially ground off on rifles which were surrendered after the war, apparently as a face-saving gesture. Rifles captured in the field, however, normally have the chrysanthemum symbol intact. The Type designation was stamped into the top of the receiver using the character shiki for "type" and Japanese numerals. The shiki character and the characters for the Japanese numerals are shown in the following table.

Japanese Characters Used on Arisaka Rifles
Character Meaning

A small number of Type 38 and Type 99 rifles had two concentric circles on the receiver in place of the chrysanthemum. The purpose of these specially-marked rifles is not known, although it is speculated that they were issued to paramilitary forces such as the Kempei Tai (Japanese Secret Police), other military police, and guards at prisons, embassies, and other civil instillations. Some concentric circle rifles were remarked standard issue Type 38 and Type 99 rifles that had the chrysanthemum completely or partially removed and replaced with the concentric circle marking. These rifles were serialized separately from regular production pieces. Other rifles apparently were originally manufactured and marked with concentric circles, which looks something like this:

Arsenal Marks

Each Japanese rifle was marked with the symbol of either the arsenal of manufacture or the arsenal that supervised the manufacturing subcontractor. This mark can be found on the left side of the receiver at the end of the rifle serial number. Rifles manufactured by a commercial subcontractor bear the subcontractor's mark to the right of the supervising arsenal's mark. These marks are shown in the following table.

Japanese Rifle Manufacturers
Symbol Arsenal/Subcontractor Period of Operation
Koishikawa Arsenal (Tokyo) 1870-1935
Kokura Arsenal 1935-1945
Nagoya Arsenal 1923-1945
Jinsen Arsenal (Korea) 1923-1945
Mukden Arsenal (Manchuria) 1931-1945
Toyo Kogyo 1939-1945
Tokyo Juki Kogyo 1940-1945
Tokyo Juki Kogyo 1940-1945
Howa Jyuko 1940-1945
Izawa Jyuko 1940-1945

At various times, rifles were removed from military service and sold to other countries or transferred to Japanese schools as training weapons. Normally, the chrysanthemum on these rifles was overstamped with the Koishikawa (Tokyo) / Kokura Arsenal symbol or a ring of small circles to indicate that the rifle no longer belonged to the Imperial Japanese Army. Rifles given to schools often have an additional character stamped on the top of the receiver between the chrysanthemum and the type designation characters. Most of these "school-marked" rifles also have two or three zeros preceeding the serial number. The "school" mark looks something like this:

Serial Numbers

All Japanese military rifles had serial numbers except extremely rare prototypes, other pre-production guns, and occasional rifles assembled very late in World War II. The serial number was stamped on the left side of the receiver, followed by the arsenal symbol. Initially, rifles make in Japanese arsenals were numbered consecutively within each Type designation. In 1933 this scheme was replaced by a system in which rifles were numbered in blocks, or series, of 99,999 each [actually 100,000, according to Honeycutt, running from serial numbers 0 through 99,999]. Each series was identified by a small Japanese character (kana) placed within a circle to the left of the serial number. Specific blocks of kana were assigned to each arsenal or manufacturer to use for a specific rifle type. The series markings are illustrated in the following table.

Series Markings
Series Number Series Mark   Series Number Series Mark
1   24
2   25
3   26
4   27
5   28
6   29
7   30
8   31
9   32
10   33
11   34
12   35
20   37
21   40
22   45

Production Figures

The following table, based on information from McCollum's and Honeycutt's books, provides some information about rifle production at the various arsenals, organized by type of rifle. These figures are only estimates, and are based on recorded serial number information. Blank entries indicate that the information in the entry immediately above applies to the blank entry as well.

Production information for sniper rifles, paratroop rifles (Types 100 and 2), Test Type 1 rifles, and Type I rifles (produced by Italy for the Japanese Navy and not based totally on the Arisaka action) are not included.

Japanese Rifle Production Figures
Type Arsenal/Subcontractor Series Serial number range Dates
38 Koishikawa (Tokyo) none 0-2,029,000 (see Note 1) 1906-ca.1935
  Kokura 20 29,000-49,000 1933-1940
    22 0-99,999  
    23 0-99,999  
    24 0-99,999  
    25 0-99,999  
    26 0-71,000  
  Nagoya none 2,021,000-2,031,000 1923-ca.1933
    26 0-99,999 ca.1933-ca.1940
    27 0-99,999  
    28 0-99,999 (see Note 2)  
    29 0-8,000  
  Jinsen (Korea) none 0-1,400 (see Note 3) ca.1939-ca.1940
    30 1,000-13,000  
  Mukden (Manchuria) none 0-30,000 ca.1934-ca.1940
    none 5,000,000-5,065,000  
    none 65,000-79,000 (see Note 4)  
38 Concentric Circle Nagoya none 0-2,600 (see Note 5) ??
  Kokura none 0-1,500 (see Note 5) ??
38 Carbine Koishikawa (Tokyo) none 0-212,000 (see Note 6) 1906-ca.1935
  Kokura 2 12,000-92,000 ca.1933-ca.1940
  Nagoya none 0-2,000 1923-ca.1933
    4 0-99,999 ca.1933-ca.1940
    5 0-99,999  
    6 0-4,000  
  Mukden (Manchuria) none 0-7,000 ca.1934-ca.1940
    none 600,000-628,000  
    6 29,000-44,000  
44 Koishikawa (Tokyo) none 0-56,000 (see Note 7) 1911-ca.1933
  Kokura none 56,000-70,000 (see Note 8) ca.1933-ca.1940
    1 0-9,000  
  Nagoya none 0-2,000 ca.1930-ca.1933
    2 0-12,000 ca.1933-ca.1940
99 Nagoya none 0-99,999 1939-1945
    1 0-99,999  
    2 2,500-99,999  
    3 0-99,999  
    4 10,000-99,999  
    5 0-99,999  
    6 0-99,999  
    7 0-99,999  
    8 0-99,999  
    10 0-99,999  
    11 0-99,999  
    12 0-1,000  
  Kokura 20 0-99,999 1939-1945
    21 0-99,999  
    22 0-99,999  
    23 0-99,999  
    24 0-99,999  
    25 0-92,000  
  Toyo Kogyo 30 0-99,999 1939-1945
    31 0-99,999  
    32 0-99,999  
    33 0-99,999  
    34 0-99,999  
    35 0-57,000  
  Tokyo Juki Kogyo 27 0-41,000 1940-1945
    37 0-59,000  
  Izawa Jyuko 4 0-10,000 1940-1945
    9 0-50,000  
  Howa Jyuko 9 50,000-99,999 1940-1945
  Jinsen Arsenal 40 0-91,000 1939-1945
  Mukden Arsenal 45 0-3,000 1939-1945
99 Concentric Circle Nagoya none 0-600 ??
  Nagoya none none (assembly numbers 0-700) ??
  Tokyo Juki Kogyo 2 0-600 ??
  Kokura none 0-1,400 ??
  Kokura none 1,800-3,400 ??


  1. Koishikawa switched from "B" to "S" barrel proof mark in the late 800,000 serial number range.
  2. Rifles in this series have been observed with (i) mum removed and either an elongated M or the school mark substituted, or (ii) mum overstamped by the Nagoya symbol, an elongated M, or other characters. The elongated M indicates "military reserves".
  3. Some rifles have been reported stamped with the character signifying "for education" (not to be confused with the school mark).
  4. Serial numbers in this range are preceded by two hiragana characters for "i" and "ro", the first two characters in the Japanese syllabary. These characters resemble "w" and "3", and these serial numbers have been misidentified as being in the 300,000 range.
  5. These rifles will normally be found stamped with a symbol similar to the series mark for "4" stamped underneath the receiver or on the barrel, indicating a second class arm.
  6. Carbines with a shallow "00" or "000" stamped in front of the serial number have been removed from service use.
  7. Koishikawa switched from the "B" to the "S" barrel proof mark in the late 20,000 serial number range.
  8. "T" proof mark stamped on barrel at receiver.


The primary kind of bayonet used on Japanese rifles in World War II was the Type 30, introduced in 1897. They averaged about 20 inches in overall length and were produced in 18 distinct manufacturing patterns, but most are similar to the following 3 types (pictures copied from Bayonets from Janzen's Notebook):

The bayonets were normally serial numbered, but the serial numbers were assigned independently from those assigned to the rifles.

Symbols indicating the arsenals at which the bayonets were manufactured, or the arsenal that supervised the subcontractor, are stamped on the right ricasso. These markings are identified in the following table:

Japanese Bayonet Arsenal Marks
Symbol Arsenal/Subcontractor
Tokyo Arsenal prior to 1936
Kokura Arsenal 1936-45
Nagoya Arsenal
Jinsen Arsenal (Korea)
Mukden Arsenal (Manchuria)
National Denki (National Electric)
Unknown company under Kokura supervision
National Denki under Kokura supervision
Howa Jyuko under Nagoya supervision
Unknown company under Nagoya supervision
Toyoda Jidoshoki Seisakusho (Toyoda Automatic Loom Works) under Nagoya supervision
Unknown company under Nagoya supervision

The variations are too numerous to illustrate here, but the following table (lifted from Honeycutt) lists the more commonly found variations. The abbreviations are listed below the table. My references do not list any production information for the many variations.

Typical Type 30 Bayonet Variations
Arsenal Mark Blade Finish Fullers Crossguard Shape Grip Shape Grip Fasteners Pommel Shape
Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
Bright Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue No SC CWA Rivet R
  Blue No SC S Rivet R
Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Bright Yes SC C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Bright Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
  Bright Yes SC CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue Yes SC CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue No SC CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue No SC S Rivet BHF
Bright Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
  Bright Yes SC CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue Yes SC CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue No SC CWA Rivet BHF
Blue No SC CWA Rivet BHF
  Blue No SC S Rivet BHF
Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Bright Yes SC C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes SC CWA Rivet R
  Blue No SC CWA Rivet R
  Blue No SR CWA Rivet R
Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Bright Yes SC C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes SC C Screw BHC
Bright Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
Bright Yes Hook CWA Rivet BHF
  Bright Yes SC C Screw BHC
  Blue Yes Hook C Screw BHC
  Blue No SC C Rivet BHC

The following abbreviations are used in the above table:


SC - Straight contoured
SR - Straight rectangular


C - Contoured, screw retained
CWA - Contoured, wrap around, rivet retained
SWA - Straight, wrap around, rivet retained
S - Straight, rivet retained


BHC - Birdshead, contoured
BHF - Birdshead, flat sides
R - Rectangular

As usual, I'm not responsible for any factual errors, but please report any transcription errors to me.

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