The Archery Library
Old Archery Books, Articles and Prints
Home > Articles > Transactions and Proceedings of the Japan Society > Japanese Archery and Archers > Part 8
Japanese Archery and Archers
by E. Gilbertson
Part 8 of 12

The yanagi-ba, or willow-leaf arrow, takes so many shapes and proportions that it is often difficult to say in what respect it differs from the broader kinds of the pointed arrow. The simplest form of it is one with a quadrangular section, swelling out at the upper and lower ends, about 2 inches long by 1/4 of an inch thick. Two very peculiar examples of yanagi-ba, unless they should be classed with the pointed arrows, are in the Uba-itadaki-sha in Bungo. They are about 6 inches in length, with the inner part pierced, to lighten them, but instead of its being cut out in one piece, a long tongue is left [Plate III., c]

Plate V. Watakusi
Saw-cut with Poem on the Falling Hail
VI. Saw-cut Yanagi, Karimata, and Watakusi Arrows

a. Hachiman dai Bosatsu.
b. Atagoyama.
c. Bai Chiku, Plum and Bamboo.
d. Rio, Dragon.
e. Kwa Cho, Flower and Bird.

The watakusi, or flesh-tearer, the barbed arrow, is usually very ornamental in its form, but suggestive of horrible wounds. One of the most ugly and murderous examples is among the arrowheads belonging to Yoshiiyé (Hachiman Taro), preserved in the temple of Tsuboi Hachimangu in Kawachi. It is 7 inches in length, with a huge barb on either side, but of different dimensions. The upper one projects 3/4 of an inch from the stem, its point being 2 3/8 inches from the top; the lower one projects 1 3/8 inch, and its point is 4 1/2 inches below the top [Plate IV., a]. There are two small arrow-heads of a different class, 1 3/4 inch long, well adapted for penetrating [Plate IV., bb]. In the Kamaguchi Chogakuji, in Yamato, there is an interesting example of the barbed arrow, belonging to the famous warrior Noritsune Noto no Kami, whose endeavour to capture Yoshitsune at the battle of Dan-no-ura, in which he perished, is a favourite subject for illustration. The steel head is 4 1/2 inches in length, the shaft 3 feet 4 inches, with a diameter of 3/4 of an inch [Plate IV., d]. But the most formidable of these flesh-tearers is one preserved by the Sataké family, 9 1/2 inches in length, with the points of the barb 2 1/2 inches apart [Plate IV., g].