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Home > Articles > Transactions and Proceedings of the Japan Society > Japanese Archery and Archers > Part 6
Japanese Archery and Archers
by E. Gilbertson
Part 6 of 12

Arrows (ki-hoko) with wooden heads, padded, were used in the Dog hunts, "Inu-oi" instituted in the twelfth century by the Emperor Toba, and which were conducted on horseback within a fenced area. In one of the No dances they are represented as being in memory of the preservation of the Emperor from the evil arts of his concubine Tamamo no Mayé (Mayé is a title of the Court ladies). The Emperor fell ill of a malady which baffled the skill of his physicians, but Abe no Seimei, the Court astrologer, heard that one night when the wind blew the lamps out, Tamamo no Mayé seemed surrounded by a luminous halo. Her origin was mysterious, and her influence over the Emperor of a remarkable character, so Abe came to the conclusion that she had bewitched him. He obtained an order for the erection of an altar in the palace grounds, to which all the members of the Court were commanded to come, and to pray for the Emperor's recovery. After making various excuses, Tamamo no Mayé was at last obliged to go to the altar, but as soon as she stepped upon the mat she changed into a white fox with nine tails and vanished. The Emperor regained his health, and the fox being heard of in the province of Shimosuke, it was hunted and shot on the moor of Nasu, changing itself into a rock, shown at the present day. A legend almost identical is related of the Chinese Emperor Shou, who was killed 1123 B.C. The wicked concubine was the famous T'a-ki, and the sage who discovered her true character, Unchushi.

The common arrows were similar to those now used in archery, with conical iron points, having three feathers, set on straight, and not rifled. Occasionally we find arrows with four feathers, and although pheasants' feathers seem to have been highly esteemed for fletching, those of the eagle, falcon, wild duck, or crane were commonly used. For the chase, and for war, the arrow heads were of course of steel, of a great variety of forms and sizes, and it is here that we find the most characteristic differences between the Chinese and Japanese weapons. Their main divisions were, the "yanagi-ba," or willow leaf arrows; the "togari-ya," or pointed arrows; the "kari-mata,"


Plate IV.
a. Watakushi of Yoshiiye.
b, b. Arrow-heads of Yoshiiye.
c. Arrow-heads of Toshihito.
d. Watakusi, Flesh-tearer, of Noritsune.
e. Karimata.
f. Watakusi.
g. Watakusi, 9½ Inches long.
h. Saw-cut Arrow.

bifurcated or two-pointed arrows; and the "watakusi," flesh-tearers or barbed arrows. These were, however, subdivided into numerous forms, some of the yanagi, or leaf-shaped, being long and sharp; the togari, or pointed, expanding until they took almost a heart shape; and the karimata, or two-headed, differing from each other chiefly in the distance between the points, which varied from about 1½ to 6½ inches. But the principle on which these karimata were made was always the same, not only was there a sharp cutting edge on the inner curve, but the outer edge was equally sharp, and they were used not only in war, but in hunting large game. It has been suggested that as the various parts of the armour were held together by cords, these arrows were used to cut them, as well as to inflict terrible wounds. It is to be noted that, as a rule, the old arrows of this class were quite plain, and the points set at a somewhat more acute angle than those of a later period; these latter, those more especially of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were frequently pierced and elaborately chased [Plate VII.].

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