Was at a gun show recently and was surprised to see a couple of Japanese matchlocks for sale. Usually, there are no matchlocks at all for sale.
The lower one is a matchlock, but not sure that it is Japanese, as it is very different from everything else that I have ever seen.
Here are 8 pictures that I took:
Don’t know that the owner would allow me to remove the barrel to gain access to the markings on the underside, but would definitely ask before I would consider buying it. A friend of mine suggested that I at least run the karuka down the barrel to make sure it hasn’t been plugged.
Would appreciate any information as to age, manufacture location, condition, and if it is worth the asking price.
Dear David, The top gun is a fairly typical hinawa ju made in Sakai near Osaka - probably late Edo period but I could be wrong on that. The second appears to be far more important as it looks like a gun made on Tanegashima, the island on which the Portuguese first landed. the stock shape and internal mechanism are typical. The one right at the bottom is a Bakamatsu percussion gun.
Hi David! Always a treat when you run into some unexpected teppos
Ian has pretty much sorted it out for you. The Tanegashima gun def got the stock and other stuff matching a so called Satsuma-zutsu. However, the barrel is not a genuine Satsuma-barrel. The front and back sights are wrong. On the real deal they are fairly small and the front-sight always got a small hole running through it. The muzzle is also wrong. My first impression is that the barrel and stock don't belong with eachother. However, if I'm not mistaken, I remember a very similar looking gun awhile ago with a Kunitomo signature. So who knows what this really is The pancover, well... Also missing the barrelprotector. Another thing, why in hell must people grind the living daylights out of the barrels? Makes this one looks like it was made in a shed about two weeks ago...
Ian and Jan have got the salient points. The middle gun looks to have had work done to it. The front part of the stock appears to have been replaced, with a new barrel retaining ring fitted. Typical Satsuma shape, but the barrel is too large with weird sights, as Jan says. It could be a Tanegashima smith's work; they kept the traditional style, and I have seen a couple of examples, but as you say David, without examining further... Oh and yes, the percussion gun is Japanese, Bakumatsu, i.e. end of the Edo/Tokugawa Period.
Went to the gun show today and purchased my second matchlock, the Sakai hinawjyuu. I had to have it as I was given a price that I couldn’t refuse. Removed all of the trigger mechanism and there are no markings. The breach plug looked severely rusted in place. I put the barrel in my bench vise and the breach plug was easily removed. The barrel hole is rather rusty, but that is to be expected, and is very close to 50 caliber, and is flared at the muzzle end. Here is a picture of the underside of the barrel.
The kanji characters are extremely clear compared to the first hinawajyuu that I purchased.
The second character looks like もん 門、gate. Maybe this hinawajyuu was to be used to guard a gate. And maybe it was made by Mr. Tanaka, たなか 田中。 And the last character looks like つくる 作る。
That completes my very limited knowledge of the kanji. Would appreciate a correct translation of who, where, and when it was made.
There are a number of other problems that have to fixed before it can be fired again. I will post these later for suggestions.
Thanks very much for the translation and information about the barrel markings. Never seem to get the right pronunciation of even simple kanji. 作 － さく not つくる、 and 住 － じゅう not 住む。
First problem that I have noticed is the size of the touch hole / flash hole. The newly purchased one is on the top, The one purchased 10 months ago is on the bottom.
Measured the size with using my set of numbered drill bits:
#41 bit, .0960 inches, 2.439 mm #16 bit, .1770 inches, 4.5 mm
Don’t think I should even consider shooting the top one with such a big flash hole. Also, the flash pan reservoir where the powder is placed is extremely large. I am thinking that the best thing to be done is to just weld the flash pan reservoir closed and then drill out the flash pan reservoir and flash hole. Suggestions very much appreciated.
So, the question is, what should the typical flash pan hole size be. I never felt that the 2.439 mm hole was ever a problem. In fact, if I don’t close the Pan Cover, the powder will actually come out of the barrel through the flash hole.
Also missing the amaooi, barrel protector. 雨おおい sounds like a big rain, Don’t know how the barrel protector would help in a heavy rain situation. Does anyone have a barrel protector that they could spare, or know where I might find one.
Were you able to work out the date from that, David? Don't want to make things too easy after all!!!
Quote "Never seem to get the right pronunciation of even simple kanji. 作 － さく not つくる、 and 住 － じゅう not 住む。
Actually you are not wrong. Each kanji has different ways of reading depending on the context. In each of those two cases in your quote, if you read them tsukuru and sumu no-one would bat an eyelid, so in that sense you are already communicating, but without the okurigana -ru and -mu they become 'On' readings, closer to the ancient Chinese.
They are often thought of as children's readings, such as 腹切りHarakiri, which should more formally be 切腹 Seppuku.
Actually the name can be read either way, David. Sadly the only way we will truly know is to ask the smith himself. I ran my reading past a sword fittings artisan at the sword society on Saturday evening, just to be safe, and he agreed with me. So to be on the super safe side you could write Jinbei/Nihei Saku, or Jinbei(Nihei) Saku.
Completely disassembled the trigger mechanism as shown in the following picture:
I don’t think I will have a problem putting it back together as the parts are very specific for their location. The wood has shrunk over the years, so some of the pins are loose and will have to be secured with wood glue.
Took the barrel to my local gunsmith, and he said that he could easily repair the barrel.
He plans to weld back all the missing metal on the flash pan, redrill the flash hole to the smaller size, and make me a new amaooi. He indicated that it is a very easy repair and would not take very long. I should mention that he has a lathe, milling machine, and drill press, so he is as much a machinist as a gun smith. Will post a picture of the repaired barrel as soon as I get it back.
Meanwhile the stock is receiving a daily coat of boiled linseed oil and is looking a lot better.
Yes, I was afraid to say that. Surely a little discreet insertion of plastic wood or something into the sockets would create enough grip for the pins, without locking them in forever. (The pins were regularly removed for fine adjustments to the lockwork mechanism.)
Appreciate the replies. I will definitely not use wood glue, and just fill the holes with some plastic wood and then drill out a smaller hole.
I labeled and updated the picture with part names, which should also help me learn these names. I had always thought that 金 meant money, but it appears that in this context, it means metal, as in hikigane, dougane,
I should mention that it is very important that everything is tight, as I had problems with the first hinawajyuu that I bought earlier this year.
Byo #5 goes through the hibasami, through the jiita into the wood stock, and is secured by byo #3 which is inserted from the top. The tightness of byo #3 is not important, However, byo #5 has to be tight, and if not, the hibasami can pass over the trigger lever and drop unexpectedly.
Byo #4 goes through the hajiki, through the jiita into the wood stock. When it is loose, the hajiki can move out from under the hibasami, also allowing the hibasami to drop onto the hizara, another undesirable condition.
Thanks for the updates, David. 金 is a versatile Kanji that can be read different ways depending on context. Kin/Kane/gane. And it can mean as you say, gold, money or metal. Even the Japanese can get it wrong.
Incidentally you have written Yojintetu. That is the old Japanese Romanization; much easier for native English speakers to pronounce it as "Yojintetsu". Yojin is watch out, be careful, be prepared against. This is called "Yojingane" by most of the J matchlock people I know, although yojintetsu would be understood.
I found a jpg picture last year with Japanese names for the parts of a hinawajyuu, and also the same picture with Romaji ローマ字 names. The trigger guard was written in Japanese as 用心鉄、not 用心金, thus my writing as youjintetu. So, should I change my label to 用心金？
I first learned some Japanese using a book that was 100% Romaji, and used only 2 Romaji characters for every Japanese kana. Thus ti – ち、tu -つ, si -し. Also, my Windows Japanese language support correctly translates youjinntetu to 用心鉄、and toukyou to 東京, so I like to use the Romaji that Windows understands。
By the way, all of the pieces in the picture are brass, except the trigger lever, which attracts a magnet with no problem
Picked up the repaired barrel today from my gunsmith.
He welded back all the missing metal on the flash pan and redrilled the flash hole to the smaller size. Rather than drill at an angle, he drilled the main flash pan hole vertically, which intersected a new hole that he drilled horizontally. Tapped the hole and inserted a small set screw.
The amaooi is actually “L” shaped, so he started with a ¼” piece of brass and milled it down to make the “L” shape. It has a hook on the front end to hold it in place, and a slot to allow the hibuta pan cover to seal properly. He even put in a barrel protector wedge amaooi kusabi to secure the amaooi in place. I also like the way he matched the patina close to the hibuta pan cover.
I couldn’t wait, so poured 20 grains (half load) of powder in the muzzle, followed by 2 pieces of wasi. Filled the pan, lit it and it ignited the charge in the barrel. The wasi went about 10 feet and I got a nice puff of smoke, and a muffled sound.
Still have to give the stock about 10 more coats of linseed oil, and reassemble all of the metal parts. And with Thanksgiving and a vacation, don’t expect to get to the gun range until a week before Christmas.
This is just to post my progress (or lack thereof) with restoring this hinawajyuu to a condition where I will be able to shoot it again.
Now that I have a amaooi and a hibuta that closes properly and a pan and pan hole that should work, I turned my attention to the lock and trigger assembly. I knew that this would require some work as it wasn’t functioning correctly when I bought the hinawajuu. The obvious goal is to have the hibasami drop only when the trigger is pulled.
First problem was that the jiita lockplate did not fit the wood stock as it appeared that the wood had shrunk slightly. This was solved by removing a small amount of wood from the stock.
It seems like there are a lot of loose tolerances on all of these parts, or they are perhaps worn out from excessive use. The hibasami is very loose on byou #5, the hajiki is loose when fitted to the jiita.
Biggest problem was the trigger lever. The trigger lever has a hole where something passes through to make a hinge on this little U shaped piece of brass on the jiita. The little U shaped piece was loose and almost fell off. It is visible in the picture of the jiita, just above and left of the JIITA label. I just tapped it for a 4-40 brass machine screw as it makes it very easy to remove and adjust the trigger lever, which I did multiple times. I slightly deformed the U shaped piece and pressed it back into the jiita, locking it tightly in place.
Put it back together and the hibasami passed freely beyond the trigger lever due to the size of the blocking tip and the end of the trigger lever, the size of the tip of the hibasami, and the size of the space created by the hajiki.
Rather than try to enlarge the tip of the trigger lever, I carefully removed some brass from the back of the jiita which should have allowed the trigger lever to project more through the jiita. Then discovered that the other end of the trigger lever was against the wood stock. Very carefully removed some wood from the inside of the stock to permit more movement of the trigger lever. Reassembled and determined that the hikigane trigger itself did not allow for enough forward movement to allow the trigger lever to project more.
The trigger lever operated in a slot on the bottom of the stock. Used a small file to lengthen the slot which allowed more forward trigger movement. I should mention that all of these ‘adjustments’ are millimeter amounts, i.e. take it apart, take off a little metal / wood, reassemble and see if the problem is solved. Very easy to remove metal / wood. Difficult to impossible to put it back. I should also mention that I carefully adjusted (bent) the trigger lever in order to achieve the proper lever travel.
The trigger lever had a square end that projects through the jiita. When trying to set the hibasami, it didn’t push back the trigger lever, due to its newly enlarged size and just hung up on the trigger lever. I tried reducing the spring tension on the trigger lever, but this had the unfortunate result of letting the hibasami fall when it shouldn’t. Took everything apart again, and filed down the top of the trigger level projection into a triangle and this solved this problem.
At this point I the hibasami was falling on its own about 5% of the time, which was still unacceptable. Decided that there was not easy way to make the hibasami bigger, or take some metal off the back of the hajiki to make the gap smaller. So, the solution that I came up with was to add some metal on the back of the hajiki, behind the half moon on the left end. Just cleaned up the brass really good and added a ‘puddle’ of solder on the back. It didn’t take much and is pretty much invisible.
Put it all back together again and now the hibasami only falls when the trigger is pulled. I did use some plastic wood and then undersize drill the hole for byou #4 in order to make sure it doesn’t come out. The other 4 byou had enough tightness that nothing needed to be done.
Tried to put the barrel back on to the stock, but my new amaooi is slightly too long. You can see this in the picture if you look carefully. So the dougane is pushed slightly back and interferes with hajiki, as there is a cutout for the dougane in the hajiki.
In retrospect, maybe a bigger puddle of solder would have solved the problem in the first place.
Have to remove a little bit of brass from the back of the amaooi, which won’t happen until after Christmas. Then hopefully to the gun range, unless we get too much snow.
Very interesting update, David. Thanks for your detailed explanations of what you are doing, or perhaps what this grizzled old gun is throwing at you. It has often struck me how elementary the Tanegashima/Hinawaju looks, and yet how delicate are the workings of the trigger and lock. The American system of government is proud of its checks and balances, but they've got nothing on a Japanese matchlock. The smallest thing can throw everything out of kilter, and it's then moving goalposts time trying to fix it. (To mix a metaphor.) When any of our members gets a new gun, it takes weeks of fine adjustment to get it just right. Luckily once you find the set-up, it tends to stay that way. My reliable old gun gave me kittens way back at the beginning.
Having said that, many of the guns found today are missing parts. Some people create new parts, like your artisan friend. There are also parts from the bottoms/backs of people's drawers which find their way onto the market, and in many cases these all get 'fitted' together to make another gun look good at least. Recently I tried to buy a pistol from a store in New York, but the serpentine looked way too big. Then the other day a friend handed me a bag containing a set of lock parts, looking very much like your excellent display above.
More progress to report. Have everything back together and will try to get to the range on a sunny day next week and shoot this hinawajyuu, maybe the first time in 100 years.
Used my dremel tool to remove enough of the brass from the amaooi so that the dougane now fits where it belongs, and within the cutout on the hajiki.
I have also been aggressively cleaning the barrel, with the bisen removed. Wire brush dipped in Hops #9, and about 3 times as many cleaning patches as in the photo. I am still getting the rust out of the inside of the barrel, but this was to be expected. Don’t expect the rust to disappear until 4 or 5 more cleanings after having shot the hinawajyuu.
Although there is room for 4 mekugi 目釘, I only made two from soft bamboo which seem sufficient at this time to hold the barrel in place. This hinawajyuu also has a barrel band that holds the barrel to the dai台 near the suguti 銃口end.
And the wood looks very good for its age with just only having cleaned and waxed it.
Question: There is a slot forward of the trigger guard. My hinawajyuu is missing whatever was in the slot. It also appears to have something to do with byou #4, perhaps helping secure it in place. Other pictures that I have seen show a ring attached to brass that protrudes from the slot. Does anyone know what was the purpose of the ring, and the brass that holds the ring?
We have had long discussions regarding the ring sometimes found in that position, its purpose(s), and any specific name in Japanese for it.
It seems to be an afterthought, a generally useful ring which could have served several purposes. Among those suggested are a) to pass the cord through to stop it falling too far after firing, (later stocks have one or two diagonal holes at the top for this purpose) b) to hang a pricker from, c) to fix a sling to, d) to tie to a gun rack for control or safety purposes e.g. Theft, earthquake.
Many modern guns continue to have a swivel ring in that same position just forward of the trigger guard.
Today it was 56 degrees fahrenheit and sunny, so was able to go to my gun range and shoot the sessyuu hinawajyuu for the first time. My friend Preston accompanied me and we both had an opportunity to shoot the hinawajyuu.
Shot the hinawajyuu about 15 times. At 25 yards, we only hit the target once and it was barely on the paper. So moved the target to 12.5 yards. Here we determined that the hinawajyuu consistently shoot high and right. So we aimed low and left and got two at the center of the target. Here is the target:
Was using the same .457 inch diameter ball as before and three pieces of wasi paper and it seemed that the barrel was slightly larger in diameter than the Sendai hinawajyuu that I previously shot. Not a good seal between the ball and barrel. Tried 5 pieces of wasi, but result was the same. Believe that a .5 inch ball is too big, but will investigate further.
We learned a lot of things today, and some of them are quite obvious. First thing is that the hinawa fire rope is hot and when the hinawajyuu is fired, it detaches from the hibasami. Following is a 17 second video of Preston shooting for the first time. Now using .mp4 video format, so it should be easy to view:
The next thing that we learned is that even after the hibasami falls and the fire rope detaches, the hinawajyuu may still fire. About 2 seconds elapsed from the time the trigger was pulled until the hinawajyuu fired. 39 second video of Preston shooting and being quite surprised by the ignition:
The hibuta pan cover is secured to the barrel by a brass pin. When I bought the hinawajyuu the pin matched the hole in the hibuta, but was too small for the actual hole on the barrel, creating too much play. My gunsmith completely replaced the brass pin to make it tight again. What I found out today was that the hibasami has too much left / right play on byou #5. What happened multiple times is that when the trigger was pulled, the hibasami just hit the amaooi and stopped causing a misfire. My current plan is to add some metal to the hibasami hole, and redrill it smaller to eliminate the problem. I am becoming increasing suspicious that the hibuta and hibasami are not original to the hinawajyuu. Following is a 1:09 minute video of me shooting the hinawajyuu. I always wear safety glasses, as there is a lot of blowback of ash from the fire rope and also some from the hizara pan. To me it seems dangerous to shoot without eye protection.
Sadly my iPhone is not playing your new format clips there.
To stop excessive flashback you could fit a side-wall 'kemuri-gaeshi' baffle to the Ama-ooi, if you have the inclination and the energy. Having fired many of these over the years, I can say that individual guns vary enormously in their peculiar characteristics. The goggles sound like a good idea for the time being. Better safe than sorry.
Many thanks for the update. Oh, and the match cord is simply 'Hinawa' in Japanese.
As I now have two teppou, I compared the left right play on the spring and they were equal, so the problem that I have having with the hibasami misfiring due to hanging up on the amaooi is not due to the hole or pin size in the hibasami.
After further investigation I decided that I didn’t have enough downward force on the hibasami. This lead to my adjusting not the overall spring tension, but just bending the tip slightly to continue to apply the same force over a greater distance. Before when I lifted the hibasami I did not encounter any resistance until there was about 5/8” between the hibasami and the hizara. After adjusting the spring tip, there is resistance after 1/8”of hibasami movement.
I am learning that all of these adjustments are very minor, but make a big difference in the function of the teppou.
Not sure what to call the spring in Japanese. Have seen it called a hajiki in English, and a bana バネ written in katakana in Japanese.
I dry fired the teppou about 20 times and it never hung up on the amaooi.
Final test will be at the range when I have time and the weather is good.
The spring is correctly a 'bane', (pronounced bannay) but it is sometimes called a Hajiki-gane or simply a Hajiki for short, by some people. This means a flipper or flicker, and it also contains the idea of snap, as in snap matchlock. So it is a piece of metal (Kane) that provides flicking power (Hajiki); even today in gangster slang a hajiki can mean a handgun.
There are two general types of 'bane'. The external spring a) is called a 'matsuba-bane' (pine needle spring), and an internal coil spring b) is a 'zenmai-bane' (fern leaf spring). 反発力の弱い、松葉バネ、ゼンマイすなわち巻きバネ（コイルスプリング）を使用する。松葉バネは外に出ており（外カラクリ）、巻きバネは内部に収納されている（内カラクリ） Taken from the Japanese site for Japanese weapons. www.日本の武器兵器.jp/legacy/hinawajyu/tokucho/index.htm