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Home > Articles > Japanese Archery and Archers > Part 5
Japanese Archery and Archers
by E. Gilbertson
Part 5 of 12

Plate III.
a. Hiki-me, Whistling Arrow.
b. Ki-hoko, Wooden Arrow of Nasuno Yoichi.
c. Yanagi-ba pierced.
d. Karimata and Whistling Arrow.
e. Watakusi or Flesh-tearer.
f. Feathering of e.
g. Lance-shaped Togari-ya.

There were many kinds of quivers (yebira): some for war, others for the chase, besides more ornamental ones such as those worn by the zuijin, or palace guards, in which the arrows were spread out behind their backs somewhat like the tail of a peacock. These decorated quivers were called heikoroku, and were of various forms; while the kari yebira [Plate II., b] the hunting-quiver, used also in war, was often little more than a framework of bamboo, very light, to which the arrows were secured by thongs twisted round them. A very simple form of quiver was a length of bamboo, closed at the two ends by removable caps of wood, secured in their places by a button at the top, passing through a leather strap. The utsobu was a quiver covered with fur or leather, with an aperture in front at its lower part; one belonging to Yoshitsune is preserved by a private family in Settsu [Plate II., a] The quiver most common among those found in the temples is something like an armchair with a very high back and short legs [Plate II., c]t to which the arrows were secured by thongs, as in the kari yebira. These quivers held from two to three dozen arrows, and appear to have stood upon the ground; and other quivers, worn at the back, were conical or quadrangular, often lacquered and decorated.

The arrows (ya) used by the Japanese had heads of various descriptions, some being of wood, and derived almost certainly from the Chinese ; they were in use through Manchuria and as far north as Kamchatka during the present century. Among these was the kabura ya, or turnip-headed arrow, called in the "Buki ni-hiaku" "hiki-me," with a perforated head; it is the whistling arrow. One of these is preserved in the temple of Atsuta, where the sacred sword is kept, and has a head 8 1/4 inches long, and 3 1/8 inches in diameter at the broadest part It is pear-shaped, the shoulder, near the top, being pierced with four oblong holes, having their corresponding apertures at the top which is broad and flat [Plate III., a]. These arrows whistle shrilly as they ascend and descend, and were used as signals. One of the ki-hoko, or wooden-headed arrow, with a pear-shaped top, 6 inches long, and covered with shunkei lacquer, is preserved at a temple in Shimosuke [Plate III., b]. It is interesting as having belonged to Nasu no Yoichi, the archer who shot at the Taira fan at Yashima, but from a hole in the flat top, I am disposed to think that it was a kari-mata, or forked arrow, with a steel head, a form of arrow used in China in the olden time.

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