Japanese use of swords

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
Berichter
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Japanese use of swords

Post by Berichter » 30 May 2004 03:02

I know that the Japanese Army issued swords to both officers and NCOs. I saw a documentary that stated that Japanese soldiers had used these swords in combat. Was this true?

Cordially,

Berichter

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Lawrence
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Post by Lawrence » 30 May 2004 05:34

The samurai sword was both ceromonial and practical to the Japanese soldier. All soldiers could own one, but I believe that only NCOs and officers could wear them in service. (If I'm wrong, somebody please correct me).
While the Military had their own brands of swords, a soldier could use his own private sword as part of his uniform. Many descendants of samurai wore their ancestors sword in service and battle.
The famous 'Banzai' charges involved an officer drawing his sword and leading his men into enemy fire. I'm sure some close quarter fighting involved swords being used.
I remember a specific story I saw on a documentary. It occurred during the Battaan death march, where a Japanese officer was horseback riding past a line of Americans and slicing wildly into the line with his sword as he rode past. 8O

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Eden Zhang
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Post by Eden Zhang » 01 Jun 2004 08:40

If issued with a Type 94 pistol, a Japanese soldier would probably prefer to use his sword as a backup weapon instead.

Panzermahn
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Post by Panzermahn » 01 Jun 2004 11:25

Hi,

only Japanese officers i remembered are allowed to carry their katana..not sure about NCOs

Berichter
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Post by Berichter » 01 Jun 2004 12:45

Well, I read an Osprey series book on the IJA that stated that both officers and NCOs were issued swords. If I remember right.

Cordially,

Berichter

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 01 Jun 2004 13:48

Here's an excellent website about Nihon no Gunto (Japanese character)

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http://www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~t-ohmura/index.html

Both officers and NCOs were issued swords. Firstly they were all issued beautiful but useless western sword, then the field army changed them into traditional Japanese Gunto after Xifengkou battle (Xifengkou is a placename of the Great Wallin north China, Chinese 19th army fought there with Japanese army by using traditional Chinese broad sword in 1934). But navy and high rank army officers also have western command sword.

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 01 Jun 2004 13:51

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command sword for IJA general officer

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command sword for IJA field officer

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command sword for IJA company officer

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command sword for IJN officer

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 01 Jun 2004 14:02

Type 95 (the 2595th year of Japanese Shinto calendar, 1935 AD) NCO gunto

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initial type, Tokyo Army Arsenal

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early type, Nagoya Arsenal

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mid type, Komura Arsenal

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mid type, Nagoya Arsenal

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late type, Nagoya Arsenal

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last type, Nagoya Arsenal. The short of materials madethese sword simple and crude.

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 01 Jun 2004 14:11

Type 94 (1934) gunto, issued to army and navy officers, and some NCO equiped it privately

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 01 Jun 2004 14:25

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IJA Type 98 gunto

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IJN Taito type gunto (finalize the design in 1937)

In fact IJA officer and NCO seldom use gunto for close fighting outside China. They usually use them to behead POWs, civilians and for hari kari.

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Mait
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Post by Mait » 02 Jun 2004 18:13

Thanks for the link and translation Winward. But could you perhaps translate some more of the site (especially about daggers).

Best Regards,

Mait.

Berichter
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Post by Berichter » 02 Jun 2004 19:21

Those are really good pics of the swords, Windward.

Cordially,

Berichter

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 03 Jun 2004 07:26

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Petty officers of Eta Jima Naval Academy

IJN Dagger

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IJN dagger, sharkskin scabbard, no inscription, Meiji era

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IJN dagger, lacquerwork scabbard, no inscription, Meiji era

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from the top:
IJN dagger, oxhide scabbard, no inscription
IJN dagger, sharkskin scabbard, no inscription
IJN dagger, sharkskin scabbard, "Tensyosan" inscription, Tensyosan is a placename at Kamakura, former Shogun capital near Yokosuka and Yokohama. IJN had a forging plant there
IJN dagger, sharkskin scabbard, no inscription


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"made in Tensyosan"

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Windward
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Post by Windward » 03 Jun 2004 07:38

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Sword of admiral Togo Heihachiro

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Sword made by the disused steel guns (6" Armstrong guns destroyed during the Tsushima battle) of battleship Mikasa

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Lawrence
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Post by Lawrence » 04 Jun 2004 18:06

Winward, thanks for the pictures. Very nice.

Not to change the course of this thread, but do you know when the Imperial Japanese Navy switched over to the Navy blue uniforms as illustrated in the Petty Officer photo above?

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