1890s photo showing a range of armor and weapons usually used by samurai
Photo from the 1860s showing the wearing of the daisho. Ikeda Nagaoki in 1864
Japanese swords samurai sword are the weapons that have come to be synonymous with the samurai. Ancient Japanese swords from the Nara period Chokuto, shown a straight blade, by the late 900s curved tachi appeared, followed by the uchigatana and finally the katana. Smaller usually recognized friend swords are the wakizashi and the tanto,. Wearing a long sword katana or tachi with a smaller sword like a wakizashi or tanto, became the symbol of the samurai, this mix of swords is called a daisho, literally "big and small". throughout the Edo period only samurai were allowed to wear a daisho.
The yumi longbow, reflected in the art of kyu,jutsu lit. The skill of the bow was a big weapon of the Japanese military. Its handling fell with the introduction of the tanegashima Japanese matchlock throughout the Sengoku period, but the skill was still practiced at least for sport. The yumi, an asymmetric composite bow made from bamboo, wood, rattan and leather, had an efficient range of 50 or 100 meters 160 or 330 feet if accuracy wasn't an issue. On foot, it was typically used behind a tate ?,?,, a big, mobile wooden shield, but the yumi could also be used from horseback because of its asymmetric form. The practice of shooting from horseback became a Shinto ceremony called yabusame ?,?,?,.
Pole weapons as well as the yari and naginata were usually used by the samurai. The yari Japanese spear displaced the naginata from the battlefield as personal bravery became less of a factor and battles became more organized around massed, inexpensive foot troops ashigaru. A charge, mounted or dismounted, was more efficient when using a spear rather than a sword, as it offered better than odds against a samurai using a sword. In the fight of Shizugatake where Shibata Katsuie has been defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, then called Hashiba Hideyoshi, seven samurai who came to be called the "Seven Spears of Shizugatake" ?,?,?,?,?,?, played a crucial role in the victory.
Tanegashima Japanese matchlock were presented to Japan in the 1543 through Portuguese trade. Tanegashima were made on a big scale by Japanese gunsmiths, enabling warlords to increase and train armies from masses of peasants. The new weapons were greatly efficient, their easy use and lethal usefulness led to the tanegashima becoming the weapon of choice over the yumi bow. By the end of the 16th century, there were more firearms in Japan than in many European nations. Tanegashimaemployed en masse, mainly by ashigaru peasant foot troopswere accountable for a change in military plans that sooner or later led to establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate Edo period and an end to civil war. Production of tanegashima fell sharply as there was no need for big amounts of firearms. throughout the Edo period, tanegashima were stored away, and used primarily for hunting and target practice. Foreign intervention in the 1800s renewed interest in firearmsbut the tanegashima has been outdated by then, and different samurai factions bought more modern firearms from European resources.
As far back as the 7th century Japanese warriors wore a form of lamellar armor, this armor sooner or later evolved into the armor worn by the samurai. The 1st types of Japanese armors identified as samurai armor were called yoroi. These early samurai armors were made from small individual scales called kozane. The kozane were made from either iron or leather and were bound together into small strips, the strips were coated with lacquer to protect the kozane from water. A series of strips of kozane were then laced with silk or leather lace and made into a complete chest armor dou or do,.
In the 1500s a new kind of armor started to become liked caused by the advent of firearms, new fighting plans and the need for extra protection. The kozane dou made from individual scales has been replaced by plate armor. This new armor, which used iron plated dou do,, was called Tosei gusoku, or modern armor. different other parts of armor protected the samurai's body. The helmet kabuto was an important part of the samurai's armor. Samurai armor changed and worked on as the techniques of samurai warfare changed over the centuries. The recognized last use of samurai armor occurring in 1877 throughout the satsuma rebellion. As the last samurai rebellion has been crushed, Japan modernized its defenses and turned to a national conscription army that used uniforms.
Cannons became a common part of the samurai's armory in the 1570s. They frequently were mounted in castles or on ships, being used more as anti personnel weapons than against castle walls or the like, although in the siege of Nagashino castle 1575 a cannon has been used to good effect against an enemy siegetower. The 1st liked cannon in Japan were swivel breech loaders nicknamed kunikuzushi or "province destroyers". Kunikuzushi weighed 264 lb 120 kg. And used 40 lb 18 kg. Chambers, firing a small shot of ten oz 280 g. The Arima clan of Kyushu used guns like this at the fight of Okinawate against the Ryu,zo,ji clan. By the time of the Osaka campaign 16141615, cannon technology had improved in Japan to the point where at Osaka, Ii Naotaka managed to fire an 18 lb 8.2 kg. Shot into the castle's keep.
Staff weapons of many shapes and sizes made from oak and other hard woods were also used by the samurai, usually recognized ones include the bo,, the jo,, the hanbo, and the tanbo.
Clubs and truncheons made of iron or wood, of all shapes and sizes were used by the samurai. Some like the jutte were one handed weapons and others like the kanabo were big two handed weapons.
Chain weapons, different weapons using chains kusari were used throughout the samurai era, the kusarigama and Kusari fundo are examples.