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
Another Anritsu Postal Style Key Close-Up of the Anritsu Nameplate. Unfortunately the Date is Not Legible Morse Training Key From the Nagoya Railway School Another View of the Nagoya Railway School Key
Underside of the Key Showing the Nagoya Railway School Name Japanese Double-Current Style Key. Daiichi Musen Denki, Tokyo. May, 1933 (Showa 8) Top View of the Daiichi Musen Key Close-Up of the Daiichi Musen 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 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 A Different Version of the Hayakawa With a Longer Lever A Comparison of the Short and Long Lever Hayakawa Keys
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 Japanese Radio Key by Matsushita, Feb. 1939 (Showa 14) Close-Up of the Matsushita 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 Navy Key Made by Oki Electric Close-Up of the Oki Name Stamp With Cherry Marks on Either Side
Hayakawa Electric Code Training Key. Based on a German Design Wood Box for the Hayakawa Key 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 Postal Style Key by Taka Ryoku, Tokyo. September, 1939 (Showa 14)
Close-Up of the Taka Ryoku Nameplate. Address says "Tokyo City  Shinagawa - ku Ooimizukami- chou 2068" Early Japanese Radio Key. Missing the Wood Collar Base. Maker Unknown 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 Army Training Key by Fuji Tsushin. August, 1940 (Showa 15) Close-Up of the Fuju Tsushin 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 the Type 94-3 Transmitter Key in the Operating Position
Close-Up of the Front Panel of the Type 94-3 Set Showing the Key in Both Positions Tiny Key That Was Used in the Type 94-6 "Manpack" Transceiver Set Key is Visible in the Left Side of the Type 94-6 Set Close-up of the Key Protruding Through the Panel
Small Key Allegedly Used in a Japanese Zero Fighter Plane Training Key by Kawaguchi Denki, Tokyo. February, 1941 (Showa 16) Close-Up of the Kawaguchi Nameplate Japanese Postal Style Key by Nakane Denki. March, 1941 (Showa 16)
Close-Up of the Nakane Denki Nameplate The Underside of the Nakane Denki Key With the Owner's Name and Training School Miniature Key From a Japanese Field Telegraph Set. Pre-WW2 The Miniature Japanese Field Set Key Was Also Used by the Russian Army as Part of Their "Sever" Spy Radio Set
Another Picture of the Miniature Japanese Key From the "Sever" Spy Set 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 Japanese Navy Key, Maker Unknown Another View of the Unknown Japanese Navy Key Japanese Navy Bomber Key by Daikyou Electric. July, 1943 (Showa 18)
The Daikyou Key With the Cover Removed Close-Up of the Daikyou 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 Another Miniature Tank Key, This One Made by Daiyousha, May 1943 (Showa 18) Type 95 Field Telegraph Set Key
A Japanese Navy Key by Dainichi. Base and Lever Are Solid Bakelite. Hardware is All Steel. April, 1944 (Showa 19) Close-Up of the Dainichi Nameplate Postal Style Key From The Nakano High School of Wireless. Nakano, Tokyo. WW2 Era Close-Up of the Nakano Wireless Nameplate
Underside of the Nakano Wireless Key Showing the Name of the Owner Postal Style Radio Key Marked "Section 51", Tokyo Unmarked Key Similar to the Section 51 Key in Previous Pictures Top View of the Unmarked Key
Unknown Maker Japanese Key Nameplate Says Something About Caution Related to the Terminals Tobu Electric Key. November 1948 (Showa 23) Tobu Electric Nameplate
Ota Musen #27 Postal Style Key. Post-WW2 Ota Musen Nameplate Tamusen Type 27 Radio Key Tobu Electric Key on Wood Base. March, 1948 (Showa 23)
Close-Up of the Tobu Electric Nameplate Japanese Key Made by Fuji Seiko Close-Up of the Fuji Seiko Nameplate Another Wood Based Key by Tobu Electric. March, 1953
Close-Up of the Tobu Electric Nameplate Key Used by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Youga Seikousha Co. 1950 Close-Up of the Youga Seikousha Nameplate Another Key Used by The Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Maker Unknown, Missing Nameplate. 1950's
Code Training Key Marked "Section 51" Tokyo Section 51 Nameplate Radio Key by Tariku Electric, A Japanese Company Operating in Seoul Korea Close-Up of the Tariku Nameplate
Japanese Military Key Marked "DSC" Side View of the DSC Key Bottom View of the Key Showing the DSC Name Sato Parts Company Radio Key
Sato Parts Model 2700 Lafayette Radio Code Practice Set Another View of the 2 Lafayette Code Practice Units A Korean Made Key. Maker Unknown
Oddly, the Nameplate on the Korean Key is Upside Down ! The Korean Key Turned Upside Down So You Can Read the Nameplate A Very Early "Swallow" Key by Takatsuka Musen. Ca. Late 1940's Another View of the Takatsuka Musen Key
Close-Up of the Takatsuka Musen "Swallow" Nameplate The Standard Hand Key by Dentsuseiki. Ca. 1950's Another View of the Dentsuseiki Standard Hand Key Close-Up of the Dentsuseiki Name
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 "Swallow" HK-3 Straight Key by Dentsuseiki
Top View of the Swallow HK-3 Key "Swallow" HK-3S Straight Key by Dentsuseiki Close-Up of the HK-3S Nameplate "Swallow" HK-7 Straight Key by Dentsuseiki
Close-Up of the Swallow Name Japan Radio Corp (JRC) Key for Amateur Use Hi-Mound FK-3 Sideswiper. Similar to the Denstuseiki Model KK Sideswiper Close-Up of the Hi-Mound FK-3 Nameplate
Hi-Mound HK-1Z Close-Up of the HK-1Z Nameplate Hi-Mound HK-3 Close-Up of the HK-3 Nameplate
Hi-Mound HK-702 Hi-Mound HK-707 Hi-Mound HK-708 Hi-Mound MK-708 Double Paddle Manipulator Key
Hi-Mound HK-802 Close-Up of the HK-802 Label Hi-Mound HK-803 "Hi-Deluxe" Key Another View of the Hi-Deluxe Key
Hi-Mound HK-804. Basically the Same as the HK-803 but on a Solid Brass Base Hi-Mound HK-808 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 Marking 100 Years of Marconi Wireless Design (1895-1995). Patterned After the Spark Key Used on the Battleship Mikasa. (See the Japanese Spark Keys Page for More Picures) 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 The Hi-Mound PK-1 Palm Keyer, a Small Portable Telegraph Key The Back Side of the Palm Keyer Showing How it Can Be Used
Instruction Sheet for the PK-1 Palm Keyer Hi-Mound HSK-910 Another View of the HSK-910 JRC Mini Key For QRP Operators
GHD GD-599a Straight Key With Micrometer Spacing Adjustment Close-Up of the Micrometer Adjustment GHD GT-513 Key With Leaf Spring Pivot Kenpro KK-7
Hi-Mound HK-908 Silence Key Recently Made Key by Rhea Nakamura, Tokyo Close-Up of the Nakamura Nameplate A Japanese Key That is Actually a Butane Cigarette Lighter. Made by Abbott Import, Japan
  Top View of the Japanese Lighter-Key Showing the Heating Element. The Lighter is Operated by Pressing Down on the Lever Unknown Maker Japanese Key  






Questions or comments?

You can reach me at telegraphdude@comcast.net