In Sengoku era (civil war era), Japanese soldier, samurai, fought with katana (sword), yari (spear) and yumi (arrow).
Out of these weapons, yumi was really appreciated because of its lethal potential.
Although, the nonpareil position of yumi is rocked by a new weapon.
It is said that matchlock was introduced to Tanegashima Island, Kagoshima in 1543 (Tenmon 12).
Therefor matchlock was initially called “Tanegashima-gun” or just “Tanegashima”.
To begin with, let me explain what a matchlock is.
It is a type of firearm firing with black gunpowder.
It is “muzzleloader” which set its bullet from the choke.
It is a smooth-bore gun, so it doesn’t have rifling in the body.
It is ignited by hinawa (match/ fuse).
Generally, we call guns with these features above hinawa-ju (matchlocks), smaller ones, teppou (guns) and bigger ones, odutsu (cannons).
The Firing Mechanism
The mechanism is simple
Put the fuse in the hibasami (火ばさみ) and pull the trigger to fire.
Then, the mechanism works and the fuse will fall into the pan (火皿) and ignites the koyaku (口薬) on the pan. The fire goes through the tamagusuri (玉薬), which is a kind of gunpowder, and it explodes, and its impact will launch a bullet.
Tsutsu (Jushin) – Body. Made of iron. It weighs more than 80% of the matchlock.
Maemeate (Shomon)/ Sakimeate (Shousei) – This is for aiming onto a target
Daigi (Jusho)/ Daikabu(Shobi) – Made of hard wood such as oak or walnut
Karuka (Ramrod) – A tool for stuffing a bullet to the bottom of the matchlock
Mekugiana – A hole to fix the body and daimoku by putting a stick made of bamboo
Shikakebubun (Karakuri) – Hibasami, hajiki-gane (kenukikin), jiita, osae-gane, yojin-gane, trigger. Made of brass.
Hibuta – Safety equipment to prevent explosions when unexpected ignitions happene. You can open and close it. People say “hibuta wo kiru” when one opens the hibuta, which means “cut hibuta”.
Hibasami – The part to put the fuse
Hajiki-gane – An equipment to make hibasami work
Jiita – A plate between osaegane (an equipment inside of daikabu) and trigger
Trigger – An equipment to activate osaegane. By pulling the trigger, hibasami will work.
The mechanism works in the following order. Trigger-osaegane-hajikigane-hibasami
Yojingane – A protector to prevent unexpected firing
Trivia : Samurai didn’t start fighting all of a sudden. First, they did “yaawase” which is a distance attack by arrow, throwing stones and used matchlock.
Himichi– A hole to lead the fire from the koyaku to the gunpowder.
Bisen – A stopper to make the explosion travel through one way of the choke
Bullet – Made of lead with tamatsukuri-basami, which is a special tool adjusted to chokes.
Lower left : Taking apart the body and the daiki
The other three: the bottom end of the matchlock
“Tamatsukuri-basami” pour in melted lead from the cavity
The inside is smooth
1. The mechanism of matchlock is simple
2. Everyone can fire
3. It is difficult to simplify the explanation.
What do you want to know about matchlocks?
I would love to share my knowledge.
Don’t hesitate to ask me anything!
See you next time!