The translator has even translated some of the names! Ichimu indicates Inatomi (Inadome) Ichimusai, founder of the Inatomi-Ryu, and his school was found throughout Japan, as was Fujioka further down on the list.
Piers, A wonderful and scholarly reference. My one and only gun is typically what I would describe as Sakai - crammed with brass inlays, the large chrysanthemum shaped plates on either side of the butt and a barrel decorated (not that well done) with the two generals at the battle of Uji river. I take it guns of this type were very much Edo period productions when appearance was more important than functionality.
Reverting back to the possibility of the Tabuse founder having travelled abroad, I refer you once again to the two guns in the Tokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya [see Tokugawa Art Museum Catalogue: No.10 Military Accessories of a Daimyo House, Items 163 and 164] The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to believe these two guns are the key to the arrival of guns in Japan. No.163 is I think the earliest of the two. Firstly the stock is of a flattened hexagonal section with a squared off butt, similar to those of European matchlocks but smaller and shorter. Secondly the barrel is octagonal with a flared muzzle. Again common enough on European guns and since it could be hammered to shape on the anvil, needing only a bit of filing or scraping to smooth it off. Thirdly it has the simple lock mechanism with an external spring and a sear operating horizontally through the lockplate on the tail of the serpentine like so many Japanese guns. It is primitive however in having a straight mainspring attached to a small secondary lockplate let into the stock ahead of the breech band. Now, the lockplate of No.163 terminates in a tail that consists of a round disc with a sort of stylised frond affair issuing from it. This disc is pierced with a square hole to take a fancy nut for one of the two screws that pass through the stock to hold the lock in. The other screw engages with a square block permanently attached to the top edge of the lockplate about half way along - the front of the main lockplate tucking in under the breech band. The tail of the Tabuse lock is really only a very simplified form of this lockplate. Other features of No.163 are pure Indian / SE Asian in design, particularly the shape of the trigger and the curly-cues on the sights and the fastening screw of the trigger guard.
As I said before, the Japanese did travel to SE Asia and we know the Portuguese were making these guns in Goa from 1510 onwards. I can envision the earliest Tabuse guns being similar to No.163 but with tapered pins instead of screws (although they continued to be used for Tanegashima guns which also share an identical stock shape and internal springs to No.164 in Nagoya). Your Tabuse guns has I suggest been much influenced by later developments - particularly in the shape of the stock and the abandonment of a subsidiary lockplate by the introduction of a U-shaped spring. Ian B
Recently I managed to obtain a Yo-Ryu gun, (see above). The word Yo 陽 is the second Kanji of Taiyo 太陽, the sun. It reflects the image of the Kuroda clan in Fukuoka, which used a sun disc as one generic secondary Mon, apparently. This will go nicely with my Kuroda Jingasa with a gold sun on it.
The stock has been stamped in two places with the Jinshin Bango from the round-up registration of Meiji 5, 1872. The stock tapers from the thick barrel to a fine waspy waist no greater in diameter than the base of my thumb.
The otherwise plain barrel has two Sankai-bishi 三階菱 Mon in gold (?) and silver, of the Ogasawara clan.
30 Monme. Solid stock, no built-in ramrod pocket, typical for guns of over 30 Monme. One oval hole in the stock for strapping the left hand to the barrel for extra grip.
The square-headed Bisen should come loose with a little more oiling and urging, but there is no hurry. The trigger surround has some damage, but a local artisan will fix that for me.
I have a length of pole, originally for Bo-jutsu(?) (like a broom handle) that will cut down to make a perfect ramrod.
They are encouraging me to sell the 20-Monme Tazuke-Ryu gun to pay for this one, but I am tempted to hold on to both, and sell matches on the street corner this winter instead.
Sounds very interesting, Piers. I'm sure some pictures will be posted at a later time
I find this model very pleasing with it's "waspy waist". Any reason for this construction? Guess you have to be very careful placing this gun on the ground, riflebutt down. Must have been a lot of broken "waists" back in the day.
And please keep the 20. It's only printed paper...
Impressive gun Piers, I'm very jelous now, I like them wasp waist so much. Next time i come and visit you in japan I'm going to pull the "I like..." trick and look at you with puppy eyes I might throw in a lighter in the trade...
Correction. Today I ran the two registration marks above past someone who knows more than me about these things, and I wanted to double-check the usage of Kan 甘 in the second, later date.
It can mean 'two' he said, but not at the end of a number like that, only at the beginning. Meiji 21, 2...? Suddenly he brightened up. February he said! Since Meiji is already shortened to Mei, where you would expect the character 月 for month, that too has been abridged. Unusual in Japanese to shorten a date like this, generally, but at least it makes good sense now.
They are still there, George, clumsily stamped. Visible cancellation is in my experience a genuine exception, rather than the rule.
(I can post both sets of marks if anyone is interested, although it would go a little off-topic.)
Piers, I would be interested in seeing the markings. I think all the guns I've seen with a second set of registration markings have had the older set cancelled in one way or another. Feel free to email them to me if you prefer. One of the Banzai members in the USA that I correspond with has been collating records of registrations from surviving examples, not just matchlocks but from all types of firearms.
Just to chip in on this discussion. I see someone has spoken to Shimazu Sensei about Morishige Ryu, has anyone spoken to representatives of any other Ryu-ha? I'm fairly certain a lot of these schools are demonstrated at big martials demonstrations...at the end... after they've turned the fire alarms off...
Aidan, yes, a good point. I set up this thread asking how many schools there were. Although, strictly speaking the matchlock is obsolete, there are still schools who practice 砲術 Ho-jutsu, (ancient) gunnery as a martial art today, as you can see in the many YouTube clips that Malcolm has found for us.
You can see and possibly meet the heads of the various troops and in some cases the heads of the Ryu-ha, if you are lucky. To become friendly with all of them would be next to impossible, I would guess, unless you yourself happened to be the successor and next-in-line to some famous name... . Imagine going round and asking to meet the boss of a company, or a Yakuza boss, and you will get some idea of the task.
Personally speaking I have met Mr Shimazu, and hope to guide him around Numa Castle when he comes to visit, but I do not yet feel 'close' to him. Likewise I was introduced at a dinner to the lady who is head of the Yo-Ryu kakae-ozutsu school, but she was surrounded by her disciples. There is one in Yamaguchi whom I like and would get along fine with but again he is a busy person, setting up a new museum, and I have chatted with the Lord of Tanegashima (a businessman today) and received his card.
A fertile area for writing a book! Mr Shimazu is already in the process of summarizing old manuscripts of the Morishige-Ha for publication, I believe. If your Japanese is good enough, or if you have a good translator, you could maybe wangle introductions to some of these people and get them to hand out their secrets. Some of the little nuggets of handed-down wisdom are mind-blowing in their practicality and yet simplicity. But can you persuade them of your integrity? You may be required to become a disciple!
Strictly speaking Piers, every school of martial arts I practice is obselete!
My experience with these schools, limited as it may be, is that there is little benefit in learning more than one ryu-ha for a particular weapon anyway. It tends to mix up your understanding and leave you with sloppy techniques. Learning the schools properly takes time, lots of it! So, I'd probably be aiming to become a disciple of one of these schools, but again, that will be a while in coming. I don't mind waiting for the moment. I still have to investigate the painful process of antique firearm ownership in Ireland.
Mr. Shimazu also has his fingers in may pies! He's a headmaster of an old school of jujutsu as well, Yagyu-Shingan-ryu, which features some pretty terrifying throws in full armour! He is apparently setting up a practice group for Morishige-ryu in Australia and they will have a demonstration in the next few months.
Anyway, thanks for your response, I'd like to stay in touch, because I imagine I will have more questions for you as time goes by! Also, I might have some videos I can post here as well.
I stumbled over some short info about a school called the Tsuda-ryu. Must have been one the first gunnery schools. Founded by Tsuda Kazunaga and connected to the Negoro-ji. We all know the caliber of the Negoro Teppo-tai during the wars against both Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Is there any style of matchlocks that can be linked to this school? The only style from this area coming to my mind is the so called Kishu-matchlock with it's squared lock, hammer and trigger/triggerguard. Anything, dear gentlemen?
Tsuda Kenmotsu (Sancho/Kazunaga) went to Tanegashima and bought one of the first two Teppo, giving it to a Shibatsuji smith to make copies. Sakai and Negoroji Teppo all took their roots from him, according to the Teppo-Ki. I have a sweet semi-historical novel in Japanese which features him large, and I have been playing with the idea of translating it into English... What you say about the features of Kii guns seems to be true, Jan. ja.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/津田算長
This little novel "Nambanjin Tsuda Jiyusai" suggests that Tsuda Kenmotsu took one of the two young Portuguese who landed in Tanegashima back to Kii. He asked him to teach his two sons the art of gunnery, dressed him as a Japanese, gave him a sword, and eventually changed his name to Tsuda Jiyusai, which can be seen today written in the family records and on his gravestone in the family plot. Tsuda Kenmotsu and the young Jiyusai travelled around the area spreading gunnery, and their school was the oldest in the country.
Liking that story, Piers. To my knowledge nothing is known about the faith of these first western visitors to Tanegashima. Unlike Pinto, who came on the second wave and also wrote down his adventures (with a lot of fiction included). They seemed to have gotten along very good with the young lord Tokitaka. That might have opened some doors with the locals and also with visiting traders from the main islands. So why not Hell of an adventure, if true.
Thank you chaps. Only printed paper, yes, but a wheelbarrow full.
Yo-Ryu (Hayashi-Ryu). 11.4 kg.
Also typical of Yo-Ryu are brass lockwork with iron serpentine, and the vertical cliff cut at the muzzle end of the stock.
1. Under the stock is impressed 壬申 六千八百七十三番 福岡縣
and 2. on the side of the butt 明二十一甘第六番 福岡縣
Answers given below if you want to test your Kanji skills.
1. Jinshin (1872) No.6,873 Fukuoka Ken (old Kanji for 県 Ken, = Prefecture)
2. Mei (for Meiji) 21, (1888) *Kan (= good/pass) No.6 Fukuoka Ken
*Kan, later discovered to be more likely 'two', indicating the second month, February.
Hi Piers, have you any idea if all those big cannons had a belt to spread the weight from the arms to the shoulders. Recently I saw one which had one but if it was custom made on that particular gun or if it was normal for some type of guns.... I can't imagine walking with that cannon around for 100 meters...
Mischa, as far as I know there was no carrying belt or strap for them. They would have been carried in the baggage train and prepared by ashigaru for the samurai to fire. As you say, it would be well nigh impossible to march much more than 100 yards carrying one.
The only straps or strips of cloth were a) for binding the big guns to the left arm for firing, and b) for normal sized long guns, a long strip that was hung underneath for stepping on in order to help steady the gun when fired from the hip.
Here is an example of an Inatomi-Ryu gun from the late 1500s. (Often called a "Keicho O-deppo".) Someone has cleaned it up beyond the call of duty, removing most if not all of its patina in the process. Only about 15 Monme, I reckon.
It's seriously heavy for such a small caliber, around 40 kg! The shape is as close to straight as possible, it is said, for fitting in bulk into shipping crates for Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Korean adventure. My guess is that the longer barrels were thought to give extra range and accuracy, and the extra weight was strengthened bindings in multiple 'Makibari' to prevent unwanted explosions. Between 1550 and 1600 so many early guns must have blown up on the battlefield!
Ah, Ian, you keep me honest. Very interesting. Yes, I did say it was a rumour, but this ghost of a rumour refuses to die, even if it has little credence. South-East Asia makes more sense, as you point out.
The exact date of six years before Tanegashima is mentioned in the literature in roughly these words, "In Tenbun 6 Tabuse Tadamune travelled to Namban (Barbaria) and learned Hojutsu".
Sorry if I jump later in the discussion but I read this thread now and the rumors that the Japanese may have introduced firearms before 1543 really interests me; what kind of sources we have? Which kind of "literature" are you citing? Is there a proper source? I'm really keen on this! Thank you so much for answering Luca
Luca, in Genna 4, 1618 a record was written by a descendant of Tabuse Tadamune, the founder of the Tabuse-Ryu,, and it stayed in the family. According to this record, (the actual books can be seen in this link), Tabuse brought back (a) gun(s) in 1541, two years before the famous Portuguese shipwreck. It also records him setting out on April 3rd of Tenbun 6, four years before that, from Tanegashima to Namban.