Three Great Spears of Japan

Last updated

The Three Great Spears of Japan are three individual spears (yari) that were made and crafted by the greatest historical blacksmiths of Japan: [1]

  1. Tonbokiri (蜻蛉切): This spear once wielded by Honda Tadakatsu, one of the great generals of Tokugawa Ieyasu. It was forged by Masazane, a disciple of Muramasa. It is now owned by a private individual and lent to the Sano Art Museum for its collection. The type of blade shape is sasaho yari. [2]
  2. Nihongo, or Nippongo (日本号): A famous spear that was once used in the Imperial Palace. Nihongo later found its way into the possession of Fukushima Masanori, and then Tahei Mori. It is now at Fukuoka City Museum. The type of blade shape is omi yari. [2]
  3. Otegine (御手杵): It was a yari that Yuki Harutomo, a daimyo, ordered Shimada Gisuke, a swordsmith, to make. It was lost in the Bombing of Tokyo in 1945. The type of blade shape was omi yari. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

Japanese sword Type of traditionally made sword from Japan

A Japanese sword is one of several types of traditionally made swords from Japan. Bronze swords were made as early as the Yayoi period, though most people generally refer to the curved blades made after the Heian period when speaking of "Japanese swords". There are many types of Japanese swords that differ by size, shape, field of application and method of manufacture. Some of the more commonly known types of Japanese swords are the katana, tachi, odachi, wakizashi, and tantō.

Pole weapon Type of melee armament with a long shaft for infantry combat

A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking power. Pole weapons are predominantly melee weapons, with a subclass of spear-like designs fit for both thrusting and throwing. Because many pole weapons were adapted from agricultural implements or other tools in fairly large amount of abundance, and contain relatively little metal, they were cheap to make and readily available. When warfare breaks out and the belligerents have a poorer class who cannot pay for dedicated weapons made for war, military leaders often resort to the appropriation of tools as cheap weapons. The cost of training was minimal, since these conscripted farmers had spent most of their lives in the familiar use of these "weapons" in the fields. This made polearms the favored weapon of peasant levies and peasant rebellions the world over.

A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with fire hardened spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as bone, flint, obsidian, iron, steel, or bronze. The most common design for hunting or combat spears since ancient times has incorporated a metal spearheadshaped like a triangle, lozenge, or leaf. The heads of fishing spears usually feature barbs or serrated edges.

A tachi (太刀) is a type of traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. Tachi and katana generally differ in length, degree of curvature, and how they were worn when sheathed, the latter depending on the location of the mei, or signature, on the tang. The tachi style of swords preceded the development of the katana, which was not mentioned by name until near the end of the twelfth century. Tachi were the mainstream Japanese swords of the Kotō period between 900 and 1596. Even after the Muromachi period (1336–1573), when katana became the mainstream, tachi were often worn by high-ranking samurai.

<i>Naginata</i> Type of pole weapon

The naginata is a pole weapon and one of several varieties of traditionally made Japanese blades (nihonto). Naginata were originally used by the samurai class of feudal Japan, as well as by ashigaru and sōhei. The naginata is the iconic weapon of the onna-bugeisha, a type of female warrior belonging to the Japanese nobility.

<i>Jian</i> Chinese double-edged sword

The jian is a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. The first Chinese sources that mention the jian date to the 7th century BCE, during the Spring and Autumn period; one of the earliest specimens being the Sword of Goujian. Historical one-handed versions have blades varying from 45 to 80 centimeters in length. The weight of an average sword of 70-centimetre (28-inch) blade-length would be in a range of approximately 700 to 900 grams. There are also larger two-handed versions used for training by many styles of Chinese martial arts.

<i>Yari</i> Japanese straight-headed spear

Yari (槍) is the term for a traditionally-made Japanese blade in the form of a spear, or more specifically, the straight-headed spear. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sōjutsu.

<i>Tantō</i> Japanese dagger

A tantō is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) that were worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tantō dates to the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon but evolved in design over the years to become more ornate. Tantō were used in traditional martial arts (tantojutsu). The term has seen a resurgence in the West since the 1980s as a point style of modern tactical knives, designed for piercing or stabbing.


Masamune (正宗), also known as Gorō Nyūdō Masamune, was a medieval Japanese blacksmith who is widely recognized as Japan's greatest swordsmith. He created swords and daggers, known in Japanese as tachi and tantō respectively, in the Sōshū school. However, many of his forged tachi were made into katana by cutting the tang (nakago) in later times. For this reason, his only existing works are katana and tantō. No exact dates are known for Masamune's life. It is generally agreed that he made most of his swords between 1288 and 1328. Some stories list his family name as Okazaki, but some experts believe this is a fabrication to enhance the standing of the Tokugawa family.

Swordsmanship or sword fighting refers to the skills of a swordsman, a person versed in the art of the sword. The term is modern, and as such was mainly used to refer to smallsword fencing, but by extension it can also be applied to any martial art involving the use of a sword. The formation of the English word "swordsman" is parallel to the Latin word gladiator, a term for the professional fighters who fought against each other and a variety of other foes for the entertainment of spectators in the Roman Empire. The word gladiator itself comes from the Latin word gladius, which is a type of sword.

<i>Ōdachi</i> Sword

The ōdachi (大太刀) or nodachi is a type of traditionally made Japanese sword used by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The Chinese equivalent of this type of sword in terms of weight and length is the miao dao, and the Western battlefield equivalent is the longsword or claymore.

Korean sword

Korean swords have served a central place in the defense of the nation for thousands of years. Although typical Korean land battles have taken place in wide valleys and narrow mountain passes, which favor use of the spear and bow, the sword found use as a secondary, close-quarters weapon, especially useful during sieges and ship-to-ship boarding actions. Higher quality, ceremonial swords were typically reserved for the officer corps as a symbol of authority with which to command the troops. Ceremonial swords are still granted to military officials by the civilian authority to this day.

The Tonbokiri (蜻蛉切) is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith Fujiwara Masazane, said to be wielded by the daimyō Honda Tadakatsu, a leading general of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Japanese plane

The Japanese plane or kanna (鉋) is a plane pulled towards the user rather than pushed in the manner of western style planes. They are made of hardwood, usually Japanese white or red oak. The laminated steel and iron blade is stout compared to western planes. Tapered in length and thickness, the plane blade is its own wedge, as it fits into a correspondingly-shaped mortice in the body of the plane, thus dispensing the need for a separate wedge to hold the blade in place, as is the case in most other traditional wooden planes. The chip breaker is held in place with a simple nail inserted some distance away from and perpendicular to the axis of the main blade. The chip breaker is not tapered like the main blade; instead, it has bent "ears" that bear down on the plane blade. Chip breakers in Japan were introduced relatively recently, during the Meiji period. The soles of Japanese planes also have different configurations for varying applications. The apparently simple design disguises a great deal of complexity.

<i>Kama-yari</i> Japanese pole weapon

The kama-yari is essentially a yari with horizontal kama (blade) at the base of the vertical blade to assist in hooking things. Generally, the hooks are large enough to hold the head, neck or jaw or to hook limbs of a swordsman on the ground; it is different in function in this respect from other types of yari. Including, the kama-yari was used to hook horsemen and dismount them.

Japanese swordsmithing

Japanese swordsmithing is the labour-intensive bladesmithing process developed in Japan for forging traditionally made bladed weapons (nihonto) including katana, wakizashi, tantō, yari, naginata, nagamaki, tachi, nodachi, ōdachi, kodachi, and ya (arrow).

<i>Hoko yari</i> Japanese pole weapon

Hoko yari is an ancient form of Japanese spear or yari said to be based on a Chinese spear. The hoko yari came into use sometime between the Yayoi period and the Heian period, possibly during the Nara period in the 8th century AD.

<i>Katana</i> Samurai sword

A katana is a Japanese sword characterized by a curved, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands. Developed later than the tachi, it was used by samurai in feudal Japan and worn with the blade facing upward. Since the Muromachi period, many old tachi were cut from the root and shortened, and the blade at the root was crushed and converted into katana. The official term for katana in Japan is uchigatana (打刀) and the term katana (刀) often refers to single-edged swords from around the world.

Mughal weapons

Mughal weapons significantly evolved during the ruling periods of Babur, Akbar, Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan. During its conquests throughout the centuries, the military of the Mughal Empire used a variety of weapons including swords, bows and arrows, horses, camels, elephants, some of the world's largest cannons, muskets and flintlock blunderbusses.