Excellent read. Many thanks. Amazing that these two bits of history finally come together. I wonder what kind of cannon they were, possibly hand-held? Love the idea of rowing out to show them a cannonball and suggest that some of these will soon be winging your way!
Just been reading about the recently discovery of a large iron sphere on a beach on an uninhabited Japanese island near Nagasaki. The local museum curator thinks it is unlikely to be a cannon ball because at 18.8 cm, 26 kg it would be too large for anything Japan might have fired in the Edo period. This guy says that the largest Japanese cannonball would have weighed only 11 or 12 kg. In his opinion it may have been some kind of offering to the shrine there as the ancient Emperor after whom it was named was once revered as a god of war. news.yahoo.co.jp/pickup/6241478
Great story and great digging in local documents by an amateur no less. The above story also confirms the rather bad conditions of the Japanese coastal "defence". As you say Piers, it must have been mostly handheld matchlocks. Reminds me of the Morrison-incident in 1837 when the American ship Morrison was fired upon. At one occasion the ship survived an 18 hour long "barrage". The crew also recorded that most of the balls hitting the boat was of smaller calibers.
One factor in much of this was the road system. Large cannon could be and were made in various places - I am thinking of the monster in the Museum at Yasakuni, one in Paris from Kagoshima and another big one at Izumo. The problem was moving them. They could be moved by sea, but wheeled vehicles were virtually non-existant. Ian B