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The Mysterious "W" Stamp!

Article about: {My apologies to all who prowl multiple Forum sites! I'm posting this same search on all 5 that I frequent} I would very much like to track down the origin of the "W" stamp on Japa

  1. #1

    Default The Mysterious "W" Stamp!

    {My apologies to all who prowl multiple Forum sites! I'm posting this same search on all 5 that I frequent}

    I would very much like to track down the origin of the "W" stamp on Japanese WWII gunto (although I've recently come across someone with a W stamp on a training rifle as well - ah the plot thickens!)

    Fuller & Gregory says calls the stamp "unidentified...noted only on blades by the smith Takehisa (one dated 1943) but was used three thimes on each. Possibly the Chigusa Factory of the Nagoy Arsenal." I recently saw a pic of an officer gunto with 3 W stamps on the nakago, just as F&G says. BUT, I have 2 NCO gunto with the W stamp and both are Tokyo Kokura arsenal, not Nagoya. I recently chatted with a gentleman who's parade sword that had a W stamp too.

    So, I would like to gather all W stamped weapons (since it's already clear that it appears on other weapons than just the sword) and see if we can trace the origins of this stamp. I will post my pics. Please post yours, and if anyone knows more than the bit we have from F&G, please chime in!The Mysterious "W" Stamp!The Mysterious "W" Stamp!

  2. #2


    Update from another forum:
    rBrian, on 23 Apr 2016 - 12:46 PM, said:
    Especially page 2. Noted a few times. But no resolution as to exactly what it is.


    Thanks Brian!
    So we have them on Yosiharu and Mantetsu blades as well as the Takehisa mentioned in F&G. All three of those are officer gunto. But it establishes the fact that it's probably not tied to a particular smith or arsenal.

  3. #3


    Another input from another forum:

    Chu Jo Saku

    73 posts
    Posted Today, 07:35 PM
    Look on page 96 of Slough's "Modern Japanese Swordsmiths" for some information on the W stamp. If I recall, without taking the time to look for it now, there's also an explanation somewhere in the same book relating the W stamp to a particular temple that some smiths were working near, thus making the W stamp an appeal to the temple for assistance in the war effort. There are a couple swords in Slough's book with the W stamp.

  4. #4


    Hi Bruce welcome to the forum..hang tight..some of the Swordsmen will be along shortly...your question will not go unanswered.

    Regards Larry
    It is not the size of a Collection in History that matters......Its the size of your Passion for it!! - Larry C

    One never knows what tree roots push to the surface of what laid buried before the tree was planted - Larry C

    “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” - Winston Churchill

  5. #5


    Thank you for the PM asking whether I could add anything to your subject of the W mark.
    I am not a swordsman, so I had no knowledge of this marking until you brought it up.
    The short answer is that I have no answer to your quest.

    Markings like these are not part of official specs, so generally speaking, chances of official documents revealing the identity is slim, which is similar to the situation of alphabetical hallmarks used by artisans on medals and orders.

    Another problem is that it appears to be a sub-level marking, not of a contractor, but possibly a subcontractor or an inspector mark, which are even less likely to appear in any records.

    It would not have been difficult if it were an official company trademark. For example, I was once asked by a collector about a rare 5th mystery contractor trademark that appeared on type 95 swords. This was not such a tall order, as it was only a matter of checking Army contractor lists by product. It turned out that the Kokura arsenal brought in a new contractor named Mizuno for a short while in 1942 and had them produce type 95s. However, the October report from Kokura Arsenal on production capacities of its contractors reported that they now decided to drop Mizuno due to poor results.

    By the way, the same October report says as of September of that year (1942) all Type 95 sword contractors were transferred away from Kokura to the jurisdiction of other arsenals (Suya, Iijima and Kobe were taken over by Tokyo, and Seki went to Nagoya arsenal). I just mention this as someone was wondering how the same marking could appear in connection with different arsenals.

    Mr. Ohmura, also states in his site that the purpose of the W mark is unknown to him. If he ended up totally empty handed, it is nothing that an outsider like me would want to undertake.

    One should have the integrity of clearly stating unknowns as unknowns instead of throwing around irresponsible theories and speculations that just hinder future breakthroughs.

    One last comment that I could add is that it is a fairly sure bet that the W stands for a name of a company or a person, like the W in a diamond for Wakase Gunto Manufacturing Co. Though theoretically it could stand for any name starting with Wa, Wi, Wu, We and Wo, luckily “Wa” is the only valid combination in the Japanese language. So listing up all the names starting with Wa in the Japanese alphabet listings of suppliers and contractors may be worthwhile. Though it may only be a subcontractor to a sword company, it may also appear as a contractor in its own right. There are many such lists in the archives, but a 1942 list I have only has 1 entry under Wa, a Wakatsu Steel Company in Fukuoka under the supervision of the Kokura Arsenal.

    My experience is that unanswered questions in one field tend to get answered when I am researching in some totally different field. So I will keep it in mind when I go about other research subjects.

  6. #6


    Thank you Nick, for the great reply! The history alone was worth the discussion!

    My 95s are #92604 & #113,661. Roughly assuming by the numbers that they were produced before the 1942 spin-off of the contractors, the source of the W stamp could have begun at Kokura and then went to Nagoya after the split, fitting Fuller's guntos mentioned at 1943 blades. Within the realm of possibility.

    The search continues!

  7. #7


    Found W stamps on just a few smiths, so far: Takehisa, Yoshiharu, and Yoshitani. (F&G, and JapaneseSwordIndex - UNDOCUMENTED SHOWA JAPANESE SWORD SMITHS

    Seems to be a pretty small group of blade manufacturers. Possibly the same inspector stamping the officer gunto of the smiths above was somehow invovled with some of the NCO production line as well.

  8. #8


    Update: Just got a Type 95, ver 2, with a "W" stamp on the nakago! That makes 3 NCO gunto. The ver 1 and 2 are both made by the Ijima Tōken Seisakusho contractor. Unfortunately, the 2a has a steel fuchi, so I don't know who made it. Any bets it was Ijima?!

    The ver 1 has a Kokura Arsenal stamp, and the 2 has a Tokyo First, but they both have Ijima in common.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Mysterious "W" Stamp!   The Mysterious "W" Stamp!  

    The Mysterious "W" Stamp!  

  9. #9


    I feel fairly certain Thomas, at NMB, has finally found the meaning of the W stamp! It's "yamagata" or "chevron" stamp of the War Department meaning "Property of the War Dept". He found it "on page 1194 of A Dictionary of Military Terms, by H. T. Creswell, J. Hiraoka, and R. Namba."

    The discussion is found here: Error - Nihonto Message Board

    Posting the page. It helps to explain why we were seeing it on blades from various parts of the country (therefore not a prefecture stamp, or a Tokyo Arsenal stamp), and even on other weapons.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  10. #10


    This w was used in blanket until showa 9 and survive in hoko bukuru for all war

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