Antique Japanese Matchlock Signed by Enamiya Kanshichi
This matchlock has a decorative appearance, especially on its gun barrel. If you look at this matchlock gun from above, you could see that decorative carvings were engraved on almost the entire barrel.
The principal design is the Unryu Zu (雲龍図), and cherry blossoms are also depicted. The Unryu Zu is a combination of clouds and dragons. Initially, the dragon was an imaginary creature in ancient foreign traditions or myths. Furthermore, it is regarded as a symbol of auspicious signs. Its body is likened to nine animals: antlers are deer, the head is a camel, eyes are demons, the neck is a snake, the belly is the Mizuchi (蛟, a mythical animal in Japan that looks like a snake and has a horn and four legs), scales are fish, claws are falcons, palms are tigers and ears are cows. It was thought that the dragon would reign at the top of all animals because of its odd-looking appearance. The dragon design is seen in various sword mountings; it tells us that many Samurai favored this dignified beast motif.
About the cloud pattern, clouds bring blessed rain and snow, and their movements significantly affect the day’s weather. Due to its supernatural power, a theory says that gods, spirits, and dragons dwell in the clouds. In Japan, there is a belief that worships dragons as water gods. Since rice cultivation has flourished in this country, people always treat water as an essential resource. We imagine some people wished for a plentiful harvest in the Unryu theme. From such a religious aspect, we could infer that dragon designs were familiar to people.
In this way, the dragon itself has a dignified appearance, making it suitable for decoration on weapons, and at the same time, it also has the meaning of a lucky charm. And in the case of this matchlock gun, the cherry blossom design is combined with these. Cherry blossom is one of the seasonal things of spring, and it has been loved for a long time in Japan. Its pattern has been designed for various objects such as sword mountings, Kimono (着物, traditional Japanese costume), or furnishings. One theory says that the god of grain exists in cherry blossoms. Therefore, this flower pattern has been treated as the symbol of a plentiful harvest. People held a traditional custom under cherry blossom trees to pray for a bumper year in ancient times. It is said this is the origin of the cherry blossom viewing picnic today.
The cherry blossom patterns are also depicted on the Karakuri Bu (からくり部, ignition device) part. The structure of this matchlock gun is the same as that used on the battlefields. However, we estimate that it was used as a symbol of authority as a decoration rather than in actual combat due to its gorgeous appearance.
We hope you enjoy the beauty of this relic of the Samurai era with this trivia about designs.
*Please keep in mind that there is no certificate for this matchlock. In addition, all the matchlocks we deal with are for the purpose of appreciation, and we do not guarantee their practicality. We do not assume actions such as loading gunpowder or bullets, disassembling, and firing. Even if an incident or accident occurs due to you modifying the product for purposes other than viewing, we will not take any responsibility. Thank you for your understanding.
【The brief history of matchlocks in Japan】
The introduction of matchlock
It is said that the Hinawa-Ju (火縄銃, matchlock) was introduced in Japan in 1543. A foreign merchant ship drifted ashore in Tanegashima (種子島), located in Kagoshima prefecture, and two Portuguese merchants on board carried two matchlocks. Tanegashima Tokitaka (種子島 時尭, 1528-1579), who was the lord of Tanegashima at that time, treated them with respect and bought these matchlock guns at a high price. One of the matchlock guns he had purchased was lent to a swordsmith in Tanegashima and ordered to be duplicated. It is said that matchlock guns spread throughout Japan through this process.
Appearance of matchlocks on battlefields
This is how matchlock guns were brought to Japan. And this weapon was first brought into actual combat in Japan at the Battle of Kurokawasaki in 1549 in Satsuma (薩摩, today’s Kagoshima prefecture). However, guns did not become the main weapon immediately after their introduction. To tell the truth, weapons such as spears, bows, and arrows were still the primary weapons at that time, and it is said that guns played an auxiliary role in intimidating the enemy’s horses with the sound of firing. According to historical facts, matchlock guns were used as the primary weapon at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575.
Success of matchlocks
Swords, spears, bows and arrows require training and combat experience. On the other hand, a matchlock was an easy weapon to learn and handle, even for those with no combat experience. Therefore, as matchlock guns became more mass-produced, the number of tactics in which Ashigaru (足軽, hired soldiers who were not Samurai, the main force in the Warring States period) were given to fight with matchlocks increased. Of course, not only Ashigarus but also gun units made up of Samurai were organized and played an active role on battlefields. It makes sense that matchlocks, which even beginners could aim for a certain amount of speed and accuracy, have spread battlefields.
Variety of matchlocks
Craftsmen who mastered replication techniques developed various forms of matchlocks, imagining all kinds of battlefields. A standard matchlock gun is about 130 cm long. There were also the Samazutsu (狭間筒), which were designed for battles on ships and in castles, the Bajouzutsu (馬上筒), which were for close-quarters combat and could be fired with one hand while riding a horse. There was also the Tanzutsu (短筒), a self-defense short cylinder that you could hide in your pocket, and the Ohdeppou (大鉄砲), a powerful cannon. In addition, various types of matchlocks were produced depending on the school and region, and most of them were handmade, so there is no interchangeability of parts.
The largest gun possession country in the world
According to a theory, the number of guns possessed by Japan during the Warring States period reached 500,000, which was an incredible number in the world. Tanegashima Tokitaka, mentioned above, gifted the matchlock (which was a different one from the one he lent to the swordsmith) to the lord of the Satsuma Domain with a matchlock gun. It is said that the lord of the Satsuma domain presented it to the 12th Shogun of the Muromachi shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshiharu (足利 義晴, 1511-1550). And then Yoshiharu lent it to a swordsmith in Ohmi Kunitomo (近江国友, today’s Nagahama city, Shiga prefecture) and ordered him to reproduce it. At last, a local swordsmith succeeded in duplicating two swords in about half a year. In this way, the domestic production of matchlock guns was achieved in a relatively short period of time in multiple areas. It is amazing the high level of skill of the swordsmiths back then. This was probably due to the excellent iron-making and casting techniques obtained from the production of Japanese swords. However, in the Edo period, Japan welcomed a time of peace, and the demand for guns decreased. Finally, people stopped the improvements of matchlock guns.
Full length: 119.5 cm (47.0 inches)
Barrel length: 85.2 cm (33.5 inches)
Caliber: 1.2 cm (0.5 inches)
Mei (銘, engraved inscription)
There is an engraved inscription on the barrel. It is written as 榎並屋勘七作 十五 (Enamiya Kanshichi Saku, Jugo). It shows the name of this matchlock’s maker. Please note that NO provenance or certificate proves its signature’s authenticity.
While there is no proof, we would like to present one possibility here. The Enamiya Kanzaemon (榎並屋勘左衛門) family was an essential gunsmith for the Edo Shogunate, and together with the Shibatsuji Riemon (芝辻理右衛門) family, they held a central position as gunsmiths in Sakai (堺, today’s Sakai city, Osaka prefecture). The Gokaji (五鍛冶, the five blacksmiths, later the two blacksmiths dropped out and the three blacksmiths) were called the Hira Kaji (平鍛冶), including the branch families of these two families, Enonamiya Kyubei (榎並屋九兵衛/次右衛門, Jiemon), Enonamiya Kanshichi (榎並屋勘七/忠兵衛, Chubei), and Shibatsuji Chozaemon (芝辻長左衛門), and they controlled other gunsmiths.
Jukou (銃口, the muzzle of a gun)
Registration Number: Kagawa 27949
The Board of Education in Kagawa prefecture issued a registration paper for this matchlock. It is called Ju Hou Tohken Rui Tourokusho (銃砲刀剣類登録証). Bunkachou (The Agency for Cultural Affairs) acknowledges a Japanese matchlock with this paper as a work of art.
The appraisal of old-fashioned firearms, such as matchlock firearms, is based on the following: Japanese-made guns were manufactured before the third year of Keio (1867), and foreign-made firearms were introduced to Japan before the same year. It shall be determined whether or not it falls under any of the items of
1. Matchlock-type, flint-type, tube-type, paper-wrapped-type, or pin-type (crab-eye) guns whose beauty is recognized in terms of shape, inlay, carving, etcetera, or those with value as materials.
2. Firearms equivalent to those listed in the previous item that are valuable as antiques (excluding those that can be used with ammunition that has been in practical use since the 19th year of the Meiji period).
This paper will need to be returned to the board of education when the matchlock is being shipped abroad, but you can receive a copy of it. An English translation of this registration paper is available on request.
Ninja Weapon Museum is located in Kanazawa, Japan, exhibiting antique artifacts related to the history of Ninja and Samurai.
All the matchlocks we deal with are for the purpose of appreciation, and we do not guarantee their practicality or functionality. We do not assume actions such as loading gunpowder or bullets, disassembling, and firing. Even if an incident or accident occurs due to you modifying the product for purposes other than viewing, we will not take any responsibility. Please also make sure that you are allowed to import an antique Japanese matchlock. Thank you for your understanding.
【Japanese Matchlock & Export Process】
The Japanese matchlocks we deal with are made in Japan during the Edo period. Each Japanese matchlock is registered under the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Board of Education in Japan. They issue a registration paper for each Japanese matchlock for its owner in Japan to legally possess it. The Japanese matchlock with its registration paper means it was traditionally hand-forged in Japan.
To legally export the matchlock from Japan to other countries, we will have to apply for its permit to the Agency for Cultural Affairs (Bunkacho) and return the original registration paper to the Board of Education. It normally takes around 2-4 weeks to receive this permit after submitting required documents. And we would like you to expect at least 1-1.5 months for your order to arrive at your given address after you ordered.
We accept payment through Stripe (Credit card), Apple Pay, or ChromePay, all of which are secure payment methods. If you prefer other payment methods, please contact us. You may either pay in JPY, USD. The price is set in Japanese Yen. Prices in other currencies are automatically calculated based on the latest exchange rate.
We can only ship this antique matchlock to the USA. If you don’t live in the USA and like to order, please contact us first before making a purchase. We offer Free International Shipping as long as we can send antique matchlocks by EMS.
We normally ship by EMS (Express Mail Service) provided by Japan Post. We will send you a tracking number for your order as soon as we hand it to the post office. We will put 100 % insurance on the shipping document without any extra charge. Based on the total amount, there might be a duty tax or other fee for you to pay, depending on the countries. We use package cushioning to protect the item and put it in a PVC pipe, which is one of the most secure packages because of its durability.
It will normally take 5-14 days for the item to arrive at your given address after we dispatch it. Time of delivery is estimated as accurately as possible by the carrier but does not take into account any delays beyond our control such as by inclement weather, post office holiday seasons.
*Please keep in mind that due to the spread of COVID-19, there might be delays in shipping. If you like to know the detail about shipping, please feel free to ask us.
【How To Contact Us】
Please contact us through email, Facebook Messenger if you have any questions. You can find each icon on the right side of the website. Please click one of them to reach us. We will reply to you within 1-2 business days.