Monday, May 14, 2018

Matchlock gun demonstration at Himeji Castle


Every year at the Himeji Castle Festival there is a parade and stage show featuring many types of performances. One of the highlight features of the festival are the people wearing samurai armor representing the heyday of Himeji Castle. In addition to the armor-clad volunteers who pose with tourist every week the Castle Festival features a group of antique gun enthusiasts who give a demonstration of historical matchlock firearms. The Japanese term for matchlock firearms is "hi nawa ju," which literally means "fire rope gun" which is a good description of how the gunpowder was ignited back in the samurai-era.

The matchlock / arquebus demonstration was performed by a group called the "Bishu Okayama Castle Gun Unit" (Bishu Okayama-jo teppou tai ).

This year's photo journal was taken on 5/12:

Note how the lacquer seems to be flaking off of his vintage helmet.

The performers bow their heads to the audience and present their weapons.

The lantern bears the name of the gun group; Bishu Okayama Castle Gun Unit.

Note the date-mono; decorative ornaments on the helmet.
This photo also gives a good view of a pistol holster.

Smoke and muzzle flash from a sequential firing line.

Three pans simultaneously flashing before the muzzle flashes.
An impressive example of synchronized timing.

The man in red has an interesting suit of armor; both the date-mono and the dou bear the character "dai" (big, great)

Pans and muzzles flashing.

The flash here looks like some fiery wings.

Note how the rope is blown away as the burning tip ignites the gunpowder.

Trying to keep the rope lit.

A nice shot of hot gas coming out of the muzzle.

Packing powder into a pistol.
Note the way he coils the fuse rope around his wrist.

Note the leather ammunition box that he wears on his waist.
Also, note the way that he ties the extra fuse rope around his forearm.

Preparing the fuse rope to attach to the trigger/hammer mechanism.

Preparing to fire the pistols.
You can see the gunpowder igniting here.

You can see how the burst of gunpowder seems to engulf the gun dangerously close to the user's hand.

The dou (breast plate / cuirass) of this armor has an interesting embossed design of a dragon.
Also note the menpo, facepiece, that this person is wearing.

Preparing to fire from a reclined position.

Firing from the waist and bracing against recoil with a strap that the user stands on.

Firing from a higher position.

Firing a large gun, the high position looks like he is shooting over a barricade.

You can see the horns on his helmet. This reminds me of the main character from Final Fantasy I.

I like this facial expression.

The front man has an interesting floral design on his dou.

Interesting date-mono of an oni. He also has a large string of prayer beads around his neck.