Here are some further and final comments from ARMS AND ARMOUR OF THE SAMURAI.

You are welcome to borrow my copy of the book if cannot find one to buy.

During the 16th century western sea powers tried to break the land power of the Silk Road merchants. Portuguese adventurers bound for China, blown off course, landed in Japan in 1543. The Japanese were impressed with their matchlock guns. The Japanese rapidly learned how to make the guns. By 1555 Takeda Shingen had 300 guns. Twenty years later Oda Nobunaga had 3000. Matchlocks could reach about 300 meters but were only effective at about 50 meters. Reloading took at least one minute and were not very effective in rainy or windy weather.

In 1588 Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered all non-samurai to surrender their weapons. Thus, the separation of the samurai into an elite warrior class was created. Wearing of the daisho [ katana and wakizashi or long and short swords] became the visible distinction. [The bow and arrow remained an important weapon. It did not require expensive powder.]

Leave a Comment