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What were the regulations for the Army civilian employees to carry swords?

Article about: What were the regulations for the Army civilian employees 軍属 to carry swords? Is it true that certain patterns were specifically designed for those people? Thanks!

  1. #31


    So that is a remarkably clear difference with the navy ones being much shorter. If so, someone actually should have questioned before the reason for such a great length variance among the so-called last type tassels, if they knew how strict the military was about having the correct specs, but American collectors must have blinded themselves with the usual easy-going excuse that anything went at the end of a war, which really did not apply to Japan.

  2. #32


    37 cm is navy tassel? thanks

  3. #33


    Quote by Bruce Pennington View Post

    In the army, the samurai styled sword was a symbol of authority for the officer corps. Wouldn’t a low ranking civilian wearing one of these swords seem to put them on an equal level of power and authority as an army officer?
    Probably similar to the US Civil Service. The ranks in the CS have equivalent ranks -- for Geneva Convention purposes -- to military ranks. CS ranks also are used for housing. If I were to live overseas on a military installation, I'd receive the same housing as a lieutenant colonel.

    GS1~4 = Enlisted E4/5 ~ E9
    GS5~9 = 2LT
    GS11 = 1LT
    GS12 - CPT
    GS 13 = Maj
    GS 14 = LTC [the wiki is wrong here; GS13/GS14 = LTC]
    GS15 = Col

    Above GS15 are the Senior Executive Service (SES) grades

    Of course these ranks are cool and have equivalent pay .... but they do not "outrank" a soldier. The position a CS holds might outrank a soldier, but not the civil servant. Kinda-sorta.


  4. #34


    If the difference of the length is within a couple of centimeters, I'll give it a pass, thinking due to the shrinkage. But, 14cm-15cm is just too big a difference.

  5. #35


    The launch documentation for the navy sword offers solid confirmation that 37cm is the Navy tassel. See the official launch drawing here to see how the navy tassel only reaches the Tsuba. The army tassels will reach much further down at 51-2 cm

  6. #36



    After re-reading our conversation, let me ask you this: You stated the 1940 regulation change was to GUNZOKU regulations. Is it possible the all-brown tassel was already in use by the IJA, and this reg change simply assigned it's use to the Ko-in and Hanin-ko to use ALSO?

  7. #37


    No, the all brown sword tassel only appeared in army regulations from the 1940 Gunzoku uniform update.
    I read up a bit on the background to this 1940 change, so I'll explain some of that now.

    The last time the Gunzoku uniform regs got updated prior to 1940 was 5th November 1931, and before that was as far back as 1914. In between, the regular army had updated its looks dozens of times, but Gunzoku people were neglected and wore old style uniforms.

    In the 1931 Gunzoku update, the Nihonto style swords did not even exist yet, but to highlight what changed in 1940 for the Gunzoku, it helps to quote the 1931 sword regs for Gunzoku.

    1931 Sword regulations for Gunzoku
    "Koutou-kan are to wear swords, belts and tassels of army officers of equivalent rank (however excluding the cavalry branch).

    Hanin-kan are to wear the sword, belt and tassel for a company grade army officer (excepting cavalry). However, the metal fittings for Hanin-kan are to be without cherry blossom and vine arabesque designs"

    As you see, Ko-in were not allowed swords at that time, but Hanin-kan already wore company grade officer specs with minor difference in decoration.

    Between 1931 and 1940, the Gunzoku sword and accouterments would have automatically been aligned to new army specs, because Gunzoku versions were defined by the word "identical to the army officer model".

    1940 Sword regulations for Gunzoku
    The reason they had to update in 1940 was because of the China Incident. Gunzoku also had to serve in the war zone and required appropriate attire and gear for that reason. Another reason was the establishment of the civilian uniform of 1940 and the army wanted to incorporate those into the Gunzoku uniforms.

    The background info says "currently Ko-in class are required to be in business suit even in the war zone, putting them at a disadvantage and inconveniance. Therefore it was decided to establish field uniforms like those worn by Hanin-kan and also permit them to wear swords." "Hanin-kan currently wear swords identical to company grade officers, but not to confuse them with army officers, the rear of the sword belt and tassel shall now be in brown as differentiation."

    Now, that is the REST of the story.

    Some additional sources for possible myths here are---

    1. Old saber fittings/accouterments for Hanin-kan were identical to army company grade officer specs, but lacked cherry and vines in the metal fittings. Check whether your books have this right.

    2. Hanin-kan would have worn swords, belts and tassels identical to company grade army officers (with blue backing) until the brown backed belts and tassels came in 1940

    As you see, having Gunzoku wear army officer swords was a longstanding army tradition. Claiming that the sword features shown in post 10 of this thread were special designs for army civilians is simply stupid. Why would they expend such effort at a time they couldn't even produce enough swords for combatants?
    Last edited by nick komiya; 06-26-2018 at 02:49 PM.

  8. #38


    Here's an illustration to make the point. What do the books say?
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture What were the regulations for the Army civilian employees to carry swords?  

  9. #39


    Thanks Nick. The "now be in brown" seems to indicate a new product - all brown tassel. Unless a document shows up showing the creation of the all-brown tassel for IJA, then this points to your conclusion, that the all-brown was for civilian officials!

    Very interesting breakthrough in our collecting world! BTW, I've sent an email to Dawson to pass this on, but the email address is one hosted by the publisher, so I doubt he'll ever see it.

  10. #40


    I see comments that still don't seem to fully grasp who Gunzoku were, namely civilians in army employ.

    Medical doctors were not Gunzoku, they were proper army officers, so they could not have had all brown tassels. You had to be a nurse or medical assistant to be a Gunzoku in the medical field.

    Gunzoku included jobs such as cooks, waiters, seamstresses, barbers, interpreters, scholars, PX staff, janitors, production managers at arsenals, nutritionists, guards, cobblers, military mailmen, junior accounting staff. 97% of Gunzoku were below NCO equivalents (Hanin-kan). Any Gunzoku job that needed university grads like language or math teachers in army schools were Koutou-kan grade and would have standard army officer tassels with colored backs.

    Gunzoku didn't mean desk jobs either, Military Accountants or Paymasters were army officers, so Gunzoku working under them would be doing more menial work like calculating spreadsheets, etc.
    Last edited by nick komiya; 06-27-2018 at 06:26 AM.

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