Markings on a Arasaki Rifle

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Esoterica, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. Esoterica

    Esoterica New Member

    Dec 27, 2006
    My Grandfather found a Japanese rifle at Okinawa during WW2. It had been abandoned by a fleeing Japanese soldier, and has since been passed down to my brother and I. A few days ago, we were examining markings on the barrel, and found something unusual. Three parralell slashes had been made through the 'Imperial Sun' symbol. My brother beleives them to be killmarks (three for the emporer?), while I beleive them to be vandalism.

    Does anyone here know anything about Japanese infantry practices regarding killmarks?

    The rifle is a 6.5 mm Arasaki. I do not know the specific designation or the year of manufacture.

    There are some Japanese characters which appear below the Imperial Sun, but i do not know what they mean.

    Due to the small size of the markings and the low quality of my brother's camera, we have been unable to get a good picture of the markings. I will post one if I can.


    EDIT:The rifle is an Arisaka Type 38. This is what the Japanese characters say.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2006
  2. JohnK3

    JohnK3 New Member

    May 5, 2003
    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't the slashes through the Imperial Chrysanthemum an indicator that it was picked up as a trophy post-war, as the Imperial mark meant it was the property of the Emperor and could not be owned by someone else?

  3. John, you are correct in that the Chrysanthemum was indeed the Imperial symbol of the Emperor and designated the weapon as his personal property, just as all military equipment was considered to be the personal property of the Emperor and so marked. At war's end, an order went out to all Japanese troops that the Chrysanthemum symbol was to be defaced on all weapons before they were surrendered to the Allies. The Chrysanthemum was sacred to the Emperor and should not fall into "barbarian" hands. If the rifle in question was abandoned in the way Estorica describes, however, it would seem very unlikely that the marks were made for that purpose. They could indeed be simple vandalism, but I think it very unlikely they are "kill" marks since no Imperial soldier would dare deface the Emperor's symbol in such a way before the surrender.
  4. SF Mike

    SF Mike New Member

    Jan 18, 2005
    The slash marks were probably done with a chisel-it was another way of defacing the chrysanthimum or imperial symbol.
    A lot of controversy continues over who done it and when. Most were ground off with emory wheels.
    I don't think all the Japanese were as ignorant and superstitious about symbols as many want to believe but that's just my opinion.
    It involved a deal with MacArthur supposedly preserving the symbolism of the emporer who should have been hanged as a willing accessory, again my opinion.
    Nobody has ever produced any documentation on this practice but it was widespread and more rifles are defaced than not.
    Many many of these were handed out right from arsenals as souveniers to occupying troops-most of these were ground by whoever. This practise seems to have waned with time.
    A lot of unground pieces are considered to have been captured in the field, but many, like yours, got the treatment. I have heard that the post office even got in on this for a while-some pieces were simply mailed home with a tag on them.
    Some want to believe this was done by a bayonet. That is impossible, believe me. You ain't strong enough and niether is the bayonet.
    For years and years japanese rifles had no collector value at all, they even rated lower than moisins. They really got crude at the end, but so did mausers.
    I won't buy a ground piece anymore, but the chisel marks are a little less horrendous looking.
  5. Esoterica

    Esoterica New Member

    Dec 27, 2006
    Thanks for the help, everyone. With your advice and some research, I've ruled out the 'killmarks' idea. It appears that my grandfather was the one to deface the symbol, as he acquired the rifle before the Japanese surrender. There are still some questions about the weapon, but they are the sort that I will probably never know the answers to.
  6. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    The ground mums were generally only found on rifles captured in the home islands, and even then, were ground (or filed, or peened) AFTER MacArthur ordered it doen, and was done not only by troops, but by a lot of Japanese hired to do it, just so they had some work to do to earn a pittance to survive on..

    Just about any captured after a battle, on any islands after the war, as well as any of the millions captured in China or Korea would NOT have been ground, so there are quite a few NOT ground...the myth is that ANY with the mum were "battlefield captures."

    It is true that the Japs considered the Mum as a mark of ownership by the Emperor, and "technically" nothing of the "Emperor's" could be "surrendered," but with so many GIs taking them home, MacArthur came up with the idea of removing the Mum, which the complaining Japanese accepted (not that they were in a position to argue!)

    And you are right about the collector's value, yesterday at the show seeing what Arisakas are bringing now I wished AGAIN I would have bought some of the $15 plentiful Arisakas or the "$29.99 Your Choice" Type 38 Cosmo carbines 20 years ago, instead of laughing at the guys who DID....:cool:

    And I saw a LOT of Hornady "Custom" 6.5x50 Jap ammo for sale for $20 to $23 a box too....I think it won't be long before it's available at $10 or $11/20 reloadable in Wolf Gold too....
  7. SF Mike

    SF Mike New Member

    Jan 18, 2005
    All the chinese reworks I have seen were ground and smoothed.
    I have one now that is a T38 shortened to carbine length. Almost looks like a cavalry carbine. They worked the stock down to where there are barely any grooves left.
    It is in 7.62x39.
    MacArthur was a megalomaniac who assumed a godlike position over the Japanese and did a lot to assuage our position with them. Part of that was maintaining the emperor who was more complaisant in the war than folks believe.
    "Dugout Doug" finally got his comeuppance when he challenged Truman's authority.
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
General Military Arms & History Forum 1860 Colt Army Markings Jan 23, 2011
General Military Arms & History Forum Eddystone Barrel Markings Oct 13, 2010
General Military Arms & History Forum Markings on Mosin bolt Dec 25, 2009
General Military Arms & History Forum Springfield 1903. What are these markings? Sep 30, 2009