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narukagami
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:54 pm    Post subject: Omiyari and other questions. Reply with quote
Hello all,

I've been doing some research lately for a personal project on Sengoku Jidai arms and armor. I've run into quite a few interesting items and information, and I'd like to see if someone out there can help me confirm a few things about them.

First of all, the Omiyari; From what I can tell, it is, obviously, a spear with a large, straight blade. The blade seems to have a triangular cross-section not unlike many yari types, and seems to usually be mounted on a shorter pole than most other polearms. My questions regarding the weapon are:
How common was it? Was it really a battlefield weapon or was it ornamental, something that only saw use in parades and/or gifts and offerings?
Also, how would one use it? I want to say using it like any other spear seems like its wasting the point of having such a large blade attached. I just assume that one would use more swinging techniques with it than with a normal yari, using it a little more like a two handed sword than a spear, or like a nagamaki with more thrusting techniques. But you know what they say about assuming things...

Some other questions since I'm asking:
How much truth is there behind the idea that nagamaki were born from the idea that many bushi would cover the lower portion of the blade of an odachi with cord or cloth to make it easier to half-sword, and the nagamaki was simply cutting out the middle man?
I was honestly under the impression that the nagamaki was an older weapon than the odachi, but I guess I was mistaken.

And finally:
Certain weapons associated with "samurai police" like the sodegarami, jutte, and sasumata, that were all meant to entangle or disarm an opponent rather than kill them (though I'm sure they could be used to kill if need be), I understand saw use more commonly in the Edo period, but were they purely products of the Edo period or did they exist in previous eras and simply grew in popularity?

Thanks.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ōmi-yari (大身槍)
- or Ōmi no yari (大身の槍)
- literally "large spear."

These were the longest of the yari and were used as the front line of defense and offense in samurai battles. The poles for omi-yari sometimes reached an incredible length of 4-5 meters. Sometimes an Omi-yari has a fancy scabbard.

Yari (槍, spear) points ranged from 15 to 40 cm long.
However, there were spears with the point of up to 0.9 m long. Such spears prolonged due to the point were called omi-yari.

Although this weapon is suitable for both slashing and piercing attacks, you should classify it as pole-arms.






Interesting sidenote:
The members of Hideyoshi's mounted guard, who later became Generals were referred to as the Seven Spears of Shizugatake (After the Battle) - Shizugatake no shichi-hon-yari 賤ヶ岳の七本槍.

-Elwe


Last edited by Elwe on Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Also, here is a great book on Samurai weaponry including the Omi-yari.
Samurai: The Code of the Warrior

-Elwe
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Elwe wrote:
Ōmi-yari (大身槍)
- or Ōmi no yari (大身の槍)
- literally "large spear."

These were the longest of the yari and were used as the front line of defense and offense in samurai battles. The poles for omi-yari sometimes reached an incredible length of 4-5 meters. Sometimes an Omi-yari has a fancy scabbard.

Yari (槍, spear) points ranged from 15 to 40 cm long.
However, there were spears with the point of up to 0.9 m long. Such spears prolonged due to the point were called omi-yari.

Although this weapon is suitable for both slashing and piercing attacks, you should classify it as pole-arms.


So what's the difference between an Omiyari and a Nagaeyari? And I don't mean our resident Kofun expert by that name...
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
My belief is that a 'nageyari is a short su-yari made to be carried in a 'kago'. An 'omi-no-yari' is a 'yari' with 'nagasa' over 1 shaku and can be on various length 'nagaye' staff. John
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
My belief is that a 'nageyari is a short su-yari made to be carried in a 'kago'. An 'omi-no-yari' is a 'yari' with 'nagasa' over 1 shaku and can be on various length 'nagaye' staff. John


If I'm understanding correctly, the difference is in blade length? I found this:



which shows the Omiyari being much longer in both blade and tang than the Su Yari. When you say "short su-yari", do you mean in blade/tang length, or in overall length? I understand the nagaeyari is the longer "pike" type spear, if I may use one of Evalerio's models to demonstrate:



I'm not a materials historian, nor am I a weapons specialist, so I guess what I'm after is if there is a difference in employment/usage between the Omiyari and the Nagaeyari. If both were exceedingly long (by "long" I mean both blade and haft length) and were used as group pike-type weapons as opposed to slashing individual yari/spears, then who carried one versus the other, and why? How, then, did commanders use soldiers equipped with them?
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Nagaeyari (長い槍) refers to the longer length of the shaft ‘ebu’ or ‘nagaye’mounted with the short spearhead su-yari, the nagasa of the actual spearhead is under 1 shaku, whereas the nagasa of the omi-no-yari is over 1 shaku, like in your picture. I should not have mentioned the Nageyari, with its specialised use. I have read that the usage of long shafted yari in formation came about as a result of Chinese (Mongol) tactics with their pole arms. The change in style of warfare from the 13th century onwards made use of long yari by ashigaru advantageous, especially (but, not limited to) anti-cavalry. The nagaeyari with its shorter spearhead used as a thrusting weapon would be the yari of choice for the ashigaru. The omi-no-yari used for slashing and thrusting would have failed to meet its potential in formation I would think, at least for slashing, and would have been better for less organised fighting and/or one on one. However it would be just as effective for thrusting and may have been used thus by certain clans or individuals, perhaps. It would be an expensive alternative for ashigaru, whose swords were commonly kazuuchimono, where even the use of takeyari (竹槍) were effective against horse. I think, anyway. John
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have been back to the books on this question and can find no definitive proof, but, I am of the opinion that nagaeyari is a more proper term to be used for the long spears used by ashigaru and that omi no yari is misused in this sense. As I mentioned above ashigaru were minimally armed. Steel was an expensive material and the forging of it time consuming and expensive in resources. When we see the not so common omi no yari examples still extant we can see the craft and resources needed to make them as opposed to su-yari which are quite common and obviously in most cases of lesser craft. Logical? One thing I wonder from the above post is the mention of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake. We know higher ranking samurai used spears, but, in this case is it that they did so here? or is it that when ordered to attack they spear-headed their troops? In the sense of; '率いる'.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
I have been back to the books on this question and can find no definitive proof, but, I am of the opinion that nagaeyari is a more proper term to be used for the long spears used by ashigaru and that omi no yari is misused in this sense. As I mentioned above ashigaru were minimally armed. Steel was an expensive material and the forging of it time consuming and expensive in resources. When we see the not so common omi no yari examples still extant we can see the craft and resources needed to make them as opposed to su-yari which are quite common and obviously in most cases of lesser craft. Logical?


Very. I agree that if you're giving a minimally-trained someone a big pointy stick and telling them to stand together and hold them up, you wouldn't spend more money than you would need to to equip them. A nagaeyari with a su-yari point would certainly be more economical than a omiyari, and I would even think a fukuro-yari head might be easier to manufacture and therefore cheaper, but that's neither here nor there.

This still leaves the question, though, of who used omiyari, and how? If the shafts are comparably length to nagaeyari, then it seems counterproductive as an individual weapon. A shaft that long would be too cumbersome and heavy to use for rapid slashing, which would seem to be the point (pun intended) with a longer blade like the omiyari. Were they perhaps ceremonial or for display, or are there documented cases of omiyari being used in battle?

Quote:
One thing I wonder from the above post is the mention of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake. We know higher ranking samurai used spears, but, in this case is it that they did so here? or is it that when ordered to attack they spear-headed their troops? In the sense of; '率いる'.


As they were all "named" samurai (i.e. not komono or ashigaru), I have always assumed that they would have carried normal yari (lengthwise, as opposed to omiyari or nagaeyari--not a commentary on their spearheads, as I have no idea if there is any reason you'd carry a jumonji yari vs. a normal shaped yari head other than personal preference) and functioned as individuals. More to the point of the question (again, pun intended), I don't think the "Seven Spears of Shizugatake" refers to anything specific. I'd assume it's a metaphor, that they were the seven singled out as the most worthy of notice at the particular battle for their individual exploits. I think it's reading into it too much to say they used X weapon or Y weapon based on the sobriquet, but since named samurai at this time tended to carry and use yari, be it on the ground or on horseback, I think it's safe to believe they did as well. Again, not because of the name, but because that's what most samurai did at the time, and absent evidence to the contrary, it seems reasonable.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have found some information that ties up neatly both questions. The famous yari "Shizugadake-no-Omi-no-yari", by Kaneshige owned at one time by Kato Kiyomasa, one of the famous "Seven Spears of Shizugadake" with a nagasa of 74.1 cm, was used on horseback where both stabbing and slashing were possible. Apparently this was how it was used primarily, by mounted warriors. John
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Elwe wrote:
Ōmi-yari (大身槍)
- or Ōmi no yari (大身の槍)
- literally "large spear."
I'm fairly certain everything you described is what is commonly known as a nagaeyari, as shin no sen described, at least that is what all the sources I have refer to those spears as.
Also, from my research, I'm pretty sure 大身 would translate to "long blade," not just simply "long."
The Omi-yari I'm referring to are specifically the long-blade spears, not long spears.

I've got plenty of info on the general use of spears to sift through right now, but its finding information on the Omi-yari specifically that is eluding me.

Also, not to sound rude, but that "Samurai: The Code of the Warrior" book looks fishy.


shin no sen, and ltdomer98, thanks for the extra information. Actually it does make a lot of sense that a long bladed polearm like that could be used mainly from horseback. You've got the extra reach of a spear, but with the ability to engage closer enemies without having to concentrate on maneuvering your horse away first, or switching to another weapon.

And, correct me if I'm wrong, while ashigaru were expected to fight in formation as groups, it was more expected of samurai to fight more autonomously, yes? So in that regard, big, expensive to craft, hard to fight in formation with, cut and thrust weapons would make sense for higher ranking samurai and not the rank-and-file ashigaru to be equipped with.

EDIT: Its rather difficult to find images of the weapon fully mounted. Plenty of the spearhead itself, but very few as whole, especially with some kind of height/length comparisons. One thing I have been able to deduced, however, is that the shafts they seem to be usually mounted on are never near the length of a nagaeyari, and tend to be much shorter.
Interestingly enough, I've actually found a few pictures with the blade just straight mounted into a long sword handle, turning it from a spear to a, well, longsword. However I doubt this was common.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
as I have no idea if there is any reason you'd carry a jumonji yari vs. a normal shaped yari head other than personal preference)
As far as I've found so far, I'd say it had to do with the hooks on the side making it better for swinging strikes than a standard head, as well as probably making it easier to parry when your opponent is kept at a distance, as you can use the hooks to trip up your opponent easier.

There are some advantages over a "regular" spear, and they all seem like things that would take quite a bit of skill to pull off, which leads me to believe that going into battle with one would also be showing off that you are a skilled warrior that can use this crazy thing.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
narukagami wrote:
As far as I've found so far, I'd say it had to do with the hooks on the side making it better for swinging strikes than a standard head, as well as probably making it easier to parry when your opponent is kept at a distance, as you can use the hooks to trip up your opponent easier.


Right, which falls under "personal preference", as in the samurai in question would want that effect when used, as opposed to jumonji yari or whatever being a "standard issue" weapon that all in a particular group carried because someone made the decision it was better. It's like another soldier today putting custom grips on his M4, or choosing to use one scope over another. Each has an effect, and it may boost the potential of the weapon, but it's far from standard and the choice to use it is up to the individual.

Quote:
There are some advantages over a "regular" spear, and they all seem like things that would take quite a bit of skill to pull off, which leads me to believe that going into battle with one would also be showing off that you are a skilled warrior that can use this crazy thing.


So, to carry my metaphor from above even further, it's like the guy who loads his M4 up with all sorts of crazy gadgets like laser sights and custom-made stock and all that, because it "looks cool" and he feels like a badass.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
narukagami wrote:
And, correct me if I'm wrong, while ashigaru were expected to fight in formation as groups, it was more expected of samurai to fight more autonomously, yes? So in that regard, big, expensive to craft, hard to fight in formation with, cut and thrust weapons would make sense for higher ranking samurai and not the rank-and-file ashigaru to be equipped with.


Pretty much my thoughts. Though you reach a point where it's too long to use from horseback if it's comparable length to a nagaeyari. Anything that long would have to be used as a pike or in formation, as you just can't swing it around unless you're a giant with superhuman strength.

Quote:
EDIT: Its rather difficult to find images of the weapon fully mounted. Plenty of the spearhead itself, but very few as whole, especially with some kind of height/length comparisons. One thing I have been able to deduced, however, is that the shafts they seem to be usually mounted on are never near the length of a nagaeyari, and tend to be much shorter.
Interestingly enough, I've actually found a few pictures with the blade just straight mounted into a long sword handle, turning it from a spear to a, well, longsword. However I doubt this was common.


Yeah, this makes sense. I'm certainly not a weapons expert, but when I see something like this, my mind immediately goes to "how would you use it?" type questions. There are a lot of things out there that look impressive, but are less useful when actually applied (super long Odachi or Nodachi, for example, seem really cool, but as with spears you reach a point of diminishing returns with the strength needed to lift and swing it, and the time it takes to do so, whereas a normal length sword can react faster.)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
narukagami wrote:
As far as I've found so far, I'd say it had to do with the hooks on the side making it better for swinging strikes than a standard head, as well as probably making it easier to parry when your opponent is kept at a distance, as you can use the hooks to trip up your opponent easier.


Right, which falls under "personal preference", as in the samurai in question would want that effect when used, as opposed to jumonji yari or whatever being a "standard issue" weapon that all in a particular group carried because someone made the decision it was better. It's like another soldier today putting custom grips on his M4, or choosing to use one scope over another. Each has an effect, and it may boost the potential of the weapon, but it's far from standard and the choice to use it is up to the individual.

Quote:
There are some advantages over a "regular" spear, and they all seem like things that would take quite a bit of skill to pull off, which leads me to believe that going into battle with one would also be showing off that you are a skilled warrior that can use this crazy thing.


So, to carry my metaphor from above even further, it's like the guy who loads his M4 up with all sorts of crazy gadgets like laser sights and custom-made stock and all that, because it "looks cool" and he feels like a badass.


I see what you mean now. In that case, yes, it would indeed be a matter of personal preference.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
Pretty much my thoughts. Though you reach a point where it's too long to use from horseback if it's comparable length to a nagaeyari. Anything that long would have to be used as a pike or in formation, as you just can't swing it around unless you're a giant with superhuman strength.
So far Google and any picture I can find in a book that isn't just the unmounted blade shows that they tend to get mounted in shafts anywhere between about 1x to 2x the length of the blade. Excluding the odd sword mounted ones.

Quote:
Yeah, this makes sense. I'm certainly not a weapons expert, but when I see something like this, my mind immediately goes to "how would you use it?" type questions. There are a lot of things out there that look impressive, but are less useful when actually applied (super long Odachi or Nodachi, for example, seem really cool, but as with spears you reach a point of diminishing returns with the strength needed to lift and swing it, and the time it takes to do so, whereas a normal length sword can react faster.)

Yeah, when I first saw it "how would you use it?" was the first thing that popped into my head, and at first I wondered if it was a purely ornamental thing like the super long Odachi were. But, all signs point to it having actually been a thing that was used on the battlefield.
This weapon is fascinating me more and more, and I'm starting to think of it as more of a "Japanese pole sword" than a spear. Almost like a straight-bladed nagamaki in a way. But I don't want to jump to any hard conclusions until I manage to find any info other than "this exists." Though the reference to Kato Kiyomasa using one from horseback at Shizugatake is a great start.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
The omi-no-yari is a yari with a blade length exceeding 30 cm; as with most yari the blade can be mounted on a pole of varying length; from personal experience, the complete length of the weapon usually seems to have ranged between 2 to 3 meters in length. Weight usually varies from around 3–6 kg, quite heavy and cumbersome, to me at least. It was designed for use in hand-to-hand combat.

Like any weapon it could function both as a symbol of status or as a weapon of war. It appears to have been mostly used by high ranking men.

A very famous omi-yari is the “Nihon-go-no-yari” (大身槍 日本号), which originally was owned by Ashikaga Yoshiaki and later passed into the hands of Nobunaga, and after his death to Hideyoshi, then to Fukushima Masanori before it finally came into the possession of the Kuroda family.

There are many variations of this yari:
Hira-sankaku Omi-no-yari: three-sided blade
Sei-sankaku Omi-no-yari: tree equilateral sides
Ryo-shinogi Omi-no-yari: four-sided blade
Toshin-gata Omi-no-yari: sword-shaped blade
Sasaho Omi-no-yari: grass-shaped blade
Jumonji Omi-no-yari: jumonji blade

Source: Japanese Spears. Polearms and their use in Old Japan (Roald & Patricia Knutsen), page 66.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:31 am    Post subject: Re: Omiyari and other questions. Reply with quote
narukagami wrote:


And finally:
Certain weapons associated with "samurai police" like the sodegarami, jutte, and sasumata, that were all meant to entangle or disarm an opponent rather than kill them (though I'm sure they could be used to kill if need be), I understand saw use more commonly in the Edo period, but were they purely products of the Edo period or did they exist in previous eras and simply grew in popularity?

Thanks.
Don Cunningham's book " Taiho-jutsu: law and order in the age of the samurai" has more information on the methods and weapons used to capture criminals than any other source I now of.

I find it hard to believe that these weapons were suddenly invented along with the methods to use them, realistically it is more believable that they were in use before the Edo period in some manner. Here is a link to an image from the Mongol invasion of Japan in the 13th century, you can see the boarding hook being used to pull a samurai ship close to a Mongal ship, I have seen replicas of these that show them as long poles with several hooks on the end with spikes on the pole to keep people on the ship that was being boarded from grabbing the pole, much like the sodegarami looked actually. Don Cunningham suggests that the sodegarami may have evolved from these boarding poles. He suggests how some of the other weapons used may have evolved in his book.

http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Samurai-boarding-Yuan-ships-in-1281.jpg

Here is a quote about the evolution of the sodegarami.
http://nihon-no-katchu.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=downloadattachment&board=home&thread=31&post=293&key=wN7o1sQ5yaAXs0qBwynQ
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here is a rare picture of an uncut long yari, these long yari almost never leave Japan uncut anymore due to shipping regulations and the high cost. Many were cut down to a smaller more manageable size during the Edo period. Also an image of this type of yari being used to defend matchlock positions.



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