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Identifying Yari And Naginata Users


md02geist
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Is there a good way to identify yari as to whether they might have been samurai or ashigaru use? I would assume build quality would be one as I would guess an ashigaru wouldn't generally have a high quality item unless he had looted it. Are blade shapes or Hamon indicative at all?

 

Same with naginata; is there a good way to determine whether they might have been samurai or something like a sohei? I would assume you would look for heavy religious iconography on the latter.

 

Likewise is there a good way to tell if a yari was designed more for horseback use or foot use, or is there much of a distinction?

 

But I would also guess that in a lot of cases there just isn't any telling.

 

I see a lot to read about swords but not as much about the other weapons.

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Dear Rob,

 

For what I know, long yari were used mostly by samurai. The longer, the better..... Omi yari were usually made for samurai use.

 

According to what I have gathered over the years, this was not the case for naginata. like you said, long naginata were used by the sohei.

 

Acording to hearsay, yari blade with a diamond shaped cross section were designed for horseback use......

 

But I am not sure that all those assertions are true.

 

The only thing that I am convinced is that over the centuries most the very well known swordsmith have made yari and naginata.

 

But you are right, too little is known about those blades.

 

Hope it helps.

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How are you defining Samurai and why do you not think of Ashigaru as Samurai in principle although not full time warriors? During the Sengoku period foot soldiers carried pole arms as their main weapon, the kazuuchimono were their secondary weapon. Of these Yari would predominate. John

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Because the ashigaru weren't always considered samurai caste until they were locked into their class restriction by the Sword Hunt and suddenly they were now full time soldiers.

 

I think for clarity's sake I am talking about fully armoured, full time warrior as samurai versus lightly equipped mass infantry ashigaru, despite the fact that often ashigaru and ji-zamurai were considered technically part of the samurai caste at certain points in history.

 

 

A matter of positioning and function on the battlefield rather than technical caste membership.

I simply wondered if there was a clear design difference between things like cavalry yari and foot yari.

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Hi Rob.

 

Can I recommend you get a copy of "Japanese Spears: Polearms and their use in old Japan", by Roald and Patricia Knutsen?  They trace the development of yari in relation to the class structure and changing military tactics from the Onin War through to the Edo period.  I think you would find it interesting.

 

All the best.

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Hi Rob.

 

Can I recommend you get a copy of "Japanese Spears: Polearms and their use in old Japan", by Roald and Patricia Knutsen?  They trace the development of yari in relation to the class structure and changing military tactics from the Onin War through to the Edo period.  I think you would find it interesting.

 

All the best.

 

 

Absolutely and thank you for the advice Geraint! I will look into getting ahold of one.

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  • 5 years later...
On 5/2/2016 at 6:37 AM, md02geist said:

 

 

Absolutely and thank you for the advice Geraint! I will look into getting ahold of one.


I just got back from a few hours in the public library and enjoyed reading both of Knutsen's books. I think you'll find the scholarship in the 60s book is a bit off on some things and in some ways, but any area of research needs to start somewhere. In terms of answering your question on yari differences, Knutsen does suggest that certain yari cross sections and shapes were preferred by horsemen over others.

In addition, Knutsen is in line with what the members above are stating: that longer yari were for samurai who could commission them, or were given them as gifts. 

I'll attach some pictures I took today.

I'm also speculating here, but if you are charging someone down with an Omi Yari, you may run the risk of over penetration, and then you either get yanked off your horse with it, or it snaps. A small stout one isn't going to result in catastrophes like that. A short one will obviously cost less, too.

knutsen yari.jpg

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Is “Japanese Spears” an updated version of the older “Japanese Polearms” or is the content different enough that it is is worth getting a hold of both?

 

Thanks. 

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I would agree with Brian though, given the chance I would have both.  However when looking recently the prices of the first book are pretty steep now so given the differences the new book is perfectly good.

 

Enjoy!

 

All the best.

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11 minutes ago, Brian said:

Pretty much an updated book. You only need one of the 2. Preferably the later one.

 

3 minutes ago, Geraint said:

I would agree with Brian though, given the chance I would have both.  However when looking recently the prices of the first book are pretty steep now so given the differences the new book is perfectly good.

 

Enjoy!

 

All the best.

Much appreciated gents. 

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