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Yajiri (Yanone)
The Japanese Arrowhead

The Japanese arrowhead called Yajiri or Yanone  have many uses and shapes. There are five major styles of Japanese arrowheads and are listed below. There are many variations of each style but these details are not presented and can be located in the references listed at the bottom of the page. These arrowheads are made the same as swords and other edged weapons as they are folded steel and most are tempered. Yanone were used for battle, hunting, gifts or rewards and for presentations.


In general the standard point style looking like a small Yari (spear) were used for war and armor piercing. The larger, more ornamental styles were used for presentations and temple offerings. It is said that a samurai might have a quiver of 26 Arrows (Ya) and one of them, called the Kabura-Ya or Chief arrow, and was only used if the battle was lost. These yanone have extensive detail in the saw-cut or carved patterns. Most yanone have names related to there shapes. These include; bamboo leaf, camellia leaf, willow leaf, tree leaf, aoi leaf, water plantation, fish head, crabs claw, dragon's tongue and wild goose beak to name a few.

Togari-Ya (Pointed)



Yanagi-Ba (Willow Leaf)

These YaNoNe are very elaborate with saw-cut patterns like Sakura (cherry blossom), Inome (heart shape or boars eye), Mon patterns (family crests), dragons ad other geometrical patterns. These arrowheads are usually signed on the blade below the piercing and above the shoulder. Normally there are characters on both sides of the blade but in many cases the signature (mei) has been almost polished away.

It is not uncommon to only see several strokes still left on the signature. The Temper line, Hamon, varies from suguha (straight) to Gunome and Gunome-midare. The temper line is normally near the ridge line from the beveled edge to the flat area of the blade. This style of arrowhead appeared during the Momoyama period (1573-1615) and continued through the relatively peaceful Edo Period ().


Karimata ("Rope Cutter" / Bifurcated / Two Pointed)

These arrowheads were used not only for battle but for hunting large game. They are sometimes referred to as 'rope cutters' but were most likely not used to cut ropes. The older karimata were more plain and the points are at a more acute angle. In the 16'th and 17'th century they were commonly pierced and elaborately chased. Most during this period have a single pierced area between the Nakago (tang) and the bottom of the "V" groove.

When these are signed its usually on the side face on the blade and on both sides. Another popular location for the mei (signature) is on the surface between the Nakago and the bottom of the "V". This location is only used when the karimata is not pierced. Karimata usually have a suguha or straight temper line and always have the inside edge sharpened. On some examples the outside edge can also be sharpened. The distance between the points varies from 1.5 inches to over six inches.


Watakusi (Flesh Terror / Barbed)

These shapes are usually very ornamental in form but can inflict terrible wounds. These arrowheads can vary in length from 1 inch to over 6 inches and most have a saw cut piercing. The Mei (signature) on this style of arrowhead would usually be located on the nakago. The pierced designs vary from Inome (boar's eye) to triangular saw-cut areas. These piercing are usually on the flat surface between the angled faces of the blade. The hamon can vary from a normal suguha (straight temper) to Gunome-midare (irregular wavy line). Some Watakusi even have double barbs and significant carved shoulders.


Tagone-Ya (Chisel)



Kaburi-Ya (Whistling Arrow)

This style of arrowhead was used for signals and to induce terror. The arrowhead is made from wood, horn and bone. They usually have several holes or flutes along the sides of the bulging shape. These arrowheads were mounted on the end of bamboo shafts and sometimes with a steel arrowhead after them. Many woodblock prints show a karimata with a whistler behind it. Many of these seen today have been damaged by insects. A common mistake has been to call some Yanagi-Ba whistler arrowheads since they would have a single round piercing, this is not the case.


bullet"Japanese Polearms", by Ronald M Knutsen, pp232-247, The Holland Press, 1963

bullet"A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor", by George Cameron Stone, pp670, pp673, pp674, The Southworth Press, 1934

bullet"Japanese Arms & Armor", by H. Russel Robinson, plates IX, XXVII, XXVIII, 107,108,109, Crown Publishers, 1969

bullet"Bows, Arrows & Quivers of Ancient Japan", A reprint of a Volume from the SHUKO JISSHU, orignally printed 1700, ISBN 0-910704-91-0, Hawley Publications, 1994

bullet"Arms & Armour of Old Japan", by B. W. Robinson, plate 23, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1951, 1977, ISBN 0-11-290074-7

bullet"YaNoNe Arrowheads", by Robert Benson, Bushido, Vol. 2 No. 1pp, July 1980, pp5-10

bullet"Japanese Crafts, Materials and their Applications", Edited by B. Hickman, Reprints from the Japan Society London, pp169-219

bullet"Arms and Armor of the Samurai, The history of weaponry in Ancient Japan", by I Bottomley & A P Hopson, pp26-28, Saturn Books Ltd., 1996, ISBN 0-517-10318-4

bullet"Dictionary of Japanese Fighting Armory", by Yoshihiko Sasama, pp12-87, 1999, ISBN 4-7601-1705-9