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Home > Articles > Outing > Yumi: The Japanese Long-Bow > Part 2
Yumi: The Japanese Long-Bow
Part 2 of 9

The spear, though also highly developed in the way of ingenious and effective spear-heads, was the least important of the three. The bow and arrow, naturally the most ancient war implement, was also the most universal. The hilly nature of the country, as well as the walled towns and formidable castles of the Daimios, that must be sieged and stormed to be taken, made the bow not only a necessary but the winning factor when the opposing forces assumed the proportions of armies. In time of peace it was the favorite weapon in the chase and furnished amusement in interesting contests of skill and accuracy. Marishtin, the six-armed "God of manly sports," is pictured as poised on the back of a wild boar equipped with bow and arrow, a spear, a sword and the baton of the referee of the wrestlers.

The earliest examples of the metalworkers' labors in Japan are the bronze arrow-heads, of various designs, that have come to light through the researches of the archeologist, principally from the tumuli of Kodzuki. An early Japanese chronicler says that metalfounding was brought from Korea in 97 B.C., but the bronze and even iron arrow-heads—for they seem to have had no real bronze age—anticipate that.

Tradition goes back to the mythical period and tells of exploits in which the bow played a great part, in the time when the gods of Japan quarreled, made love, and fought dragons, rikins and monster snakes. Buddha himself, in the Japanese version of his six years' wanderings, was armed with the bow of mercy and the arrow of compassion, When Mara, the king demon, tempted Buddha, in the form of a beautiful woman, he was struck on the head with the arrow of compassion and forced to reassume his real shape, and he fled vanquished. On the spot where Buddha found the sacred truth he buried the bow and arrow, and there sprang up a temple of gold, still, by the very devout, believed to exist.

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