Japanese Keys

The Japanese made a number of very interesting telegraph keys. Most of the early postal style keys look very similar to the keys used in Great Britain. WW2 saw some more unusual designs, such as miniature keys and flameproof keys.

Most of the keys made prior to and during the war had nameplates written entirely in Japanese. Examples of these can be seen in the pictures below. One interesting thing about the Japanese nameplates is that they used a different dating system on their keys.

Rather than having a date like 8-42 (August 1942) for example, they recorded the date according to the era of the current Emperor. The period from 1926-1989 is called the Showa Era. So, a key made in 1942 will be stamped "Showa 17" (in Japanese of course).

Before Showa was the Taisho Era from 1912-1926. Keys from this period are pretty rare.

Before Taisho was the Meiji Era, which ran from 1868-1912. Although this was the time period when Japan began to modernize, telegraph instruments from this period are extremely rare. The only example I have seen is a boxed set consisting of this Key and Register made by Oki Electric in 1890 (Meiji 23)

Following the war, Japanese keys began to use English writing on their nameplates or a combination of English & Japanese. This is a good way to identify keys made after the war, as some post-war keys do have an older look to them. During the 1950's and beyond, companies like Dentsuseiki (later called Hi-Mound) became an important maker of keys for amateur radio use.

*NOTE: For pictures of Japanese spark keys, please visit my Spark Keys Page.

(Click on each thumbnail to view the full size image):

An Early Japanese Double Current Key From the Taisho Era by Chugai Kogyojou. September, 1919 (Taisho 8) Close-up of the Chugai Kogyojou Nameplate. Key Also has Elliott Brothers London Markings so was Likely Made in England and Re-sold by a Japanese Company. Underside of the Chugai Kogyojou Double Current Key Early Japanese Postal Key. Nameplate Removed.
Postal Key Made by Murakami Denki. March, 1928 (Showa 3) Murakami Nameplate Early Japanese Postal Key by Anritsu Electric. June, 1934 (Showa 9) Anritsu Nameplate
Anritsu Electric Model PK-1 Hand Key. Date Unknown Anritsu PK-1 Nameplate Another Version of the Anritsu PK-1 Key Close-Up of the PK-1 Nameplate
A British Style Type PS-213a Key With Japan Navy Markings. Close-up of the Navy Markings, Called "Cherry Marks" Japanese Double Current Key by Kawai Denki, Osaka Close-Up of the Kawai Denki Nameplate
Postal Key by Kume Denki, Osaka Close-Up of the Kume Denki Nameplate Japanese Radio Key by Matsushita, 1934 Close-Up of the Matsushita Nameplate
Japanese Radio Key by Shino Shouten, 1935 Close-Up of the Shino Shouten Nameplate Hayakawa Electric Model 1100 Hand Key. A Rather Small Key. Hayakawa Later Changed the Company Name to Sharp. The Symbol of the Fist Around the "T" Represented His First Name Tokuji
Japanese Navy Key in Protective Metal Box. Made by Japan Electric Co. Circa WW2 Close-Up of the Key Close-Up of the Japan Electric Nameplate Japanese Bomber Key by Japan Radio Co. Made March 1938 (Showa 13)
Inside the Japanese Bomber Key Close-up of the Bomber Key Nameplate Army Training Key by Seshita Limited Partnership Co, Tokyo. Made February 1939 (Showa 14) Close-up of the Seshita Key Nameplate
Another Japanese Navy Key Japanese Flameproof Key. Maker Unknown. Likely Had a Metal Cover Over the Key For Use on Aircraft Japanese Key Captured From a Japanese Radio Station on Eniwetok Atoll Eniwetok Key Used as a Presentation Piece
Miniature Army Key Made by Oki Electric Hayakawa Electric Code Training Key Hayakawa Training Key. Based on a German Design Hayakawa Training Key With Nameplate (w1tp.com)
Another Reddish-Base Miniature Key. Maker Unknown Comparison of the Red-Base Key With the Tank Key Japanese Navy Key by Miyazaki Electric. No Date Stamp Close-up of the Miyazaki Nameplate
Small Japanese Military Key With Metal Cover. Maker Unknown. Captured from Okinawa Cover Removed Japanese Navy Key Made by Anritsu Electric. October, 1940 (Showa 15) Close-up of the Anritsu Navy Key Nameplate. Note the "Cherry Marks" Next to the Nameplate
Navy Key Made at the Maizuru Navy Yards, Maizuru Japan. February, 1941 (Showa 16) Close-up of the Maizuru Navy Yard Nameplate Folding Lever Key From a Japanese Field Telegraph Set Key in the Operating Position
Tiny Key That Was Used in the Japanese Field Phone Sets Close-up of the Key in the Field Phone. Key Protrudes Through the Panel Small Key Allegedly Used in a Japanese Zero Fighter Plane Miniature Key From Type 94-4 Field Telegraph Set. WW2
Field Telegraph Set Key by Tokyo Radio. October 1942 (Showa 17) Field Set Key Nameplate Matsushita Radio Navy Key. June, 1942 (Showa 17) Close-up of the Matsushita Navy Key Nameplate
An Unmarked Key Used For Code Training A Miniature Key Used in Japanese Tanks, 1944 (Showa 19) A View of the Key Disassembled The Nameplate Indicates the Key was Made in Manchukuo (Manchuria), Which was Japanese Occupied China
Type 95 Field Telegraph Set Key Postal Style Radio Key Marked "Section 51", Tokyo Ota Musen #27 Postal Style Key. Post-WW2 Ota Musen Nameplate
Tobu Electric Key. November 1948 (Showa 23) Tobu Electric Nameplate Tamusen Type 27 Radio Key Tobu Electric Key on Wood Base. March, 1948 (Showa 23)
Close-Up of the Tobu Electric Nameplate Key Used by The Japanese Self-Defense Forces, Post-WW2 Code Training Key Marked "Section 51" Tokyo Section 51 Nameplate
Sato Parts Company Radio Key Dentsuseiki NKY-4 Dentsuseiki "Swalow" KK Sideswiper Key KK Sideswiper Nameplate. Note the Spelling of "Swalow"
A Later Version of the Dentsuseiki Sideswiper Dentsuseiki Sideswiper Nameplate Dentsuseiki MS-2 Sideswiper. Uses Microswitches for Contacts Close-up of the MS-2 Nameplate
Japan Radio Corp (JRC) Key for Amateur Use Hi-Mound HK-1Z Close-Up of the HK-1Z Nameplate Hi-Mound HK-802
Hi-Mound HK-803 "Hi-Deluxe" Key Another View of the Hi-Deluxe Key Hi-Mound Compound Key. Keyer Paddle & Straight Key. Paddle Made With 2 Hi-Deluxe Keys Another View of the Compound Key
Hi-Mound Marconi Commemorative Key Hi-Mound Limited Release Copy of an Early Postal Key Hi-Mound HK-902. A Very Futuristic Looking Key ! A Side View of the HK-902. The Keying Mechanism is Enclosed Inside a Plastic Tube
A Different Version of the HK-902 With Smaller Base and Extension Legs for Stability Back of the HK-902 Hi-Mound HSK-910 Another View of the HSK-910
Hi-Mound HK-808 JRC Mini Key For QRP Operators GHD GD-599a Straight Key With Micrometer Spacing Adjustment Close-Up of the Micrometer Adjustment






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You can reach me at telegraphdude@comcast.net