FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
DID THE SAMURAI USE GUNS?
Yes. It was not only the infantry that used firearms, but the samurai as well.
Samurai were expected to provide their own armour and weapons, and amongst those weapons are some finely decorated and large calibre guns.
The Matsumoto Castle Gun Corps continues to use and research guns that were owned by samurai gunners, from the Japanese feudal era.
DID THE SAMURAI THINK GUNS WERE DISHONOURABLE?
No. Although there is a popular misconception around this, there is no evidence to suggest samurai thought the use of guns was dishonourable.
In fact, samurai as the ruling caste of Japan dictated the way that their armies and servants fought. It was the samurai that ordered tens of thousands of guns into production and it was the samurai that trained and commanded units of gunners, on the battlefield.
Many samurai actively pursued studies of firearms, and really just viewed it as a "martial arts" weapon, alongside the spear, bow, sword, etc. Further proof of this is the Satsuma rebellion; while the movie "The Last Samurai" portrays this as a traditionalist movement and shows the rebels refusing to use guns, this is not the case at all. In fact one of the first targets these rebels went after was a military warehouse to acquire more modern firearms.
WERE THESE GUNS EASY TO USE?
Generally speaking the guns are simple to use. In the same way that basic combat skills in all infantry weapons were. Ashigaru, or the infantry were often equipped with weapons that did not need years of training to be proficient. This is because as a militia (during the Warring States Era, at least), these merchants, artisans and farmers were conscripted for service - and not professional soldiers. They were expected to be able to use more than one type of weapon. But it was firearms that were the most lethal type of weapon, at that time.
However as soldiers they were not just expected to ‘pull the trigger’. Most of an ashigaru’s time is spent away from the battlefield; battles lasting hours or perhaps days and the build up to the battle lasting weeks, months and even years. As such all of the infantry were also expected to also;
· Undertake camp construction
· Reap rice fields
· Conduct patrols
· Conduct guard duties
· Secure camp areas or villages
· Inspection duties
· Luggage and supply duties
· Help samurai in all cases
The training of an ashigaru was therefore not reduced by the introduction of firearms.
WHEN DID GUNS ARRIVE IN JAPAN?
‘Guns’ existed in Japan since around the mid 1200’s in the form of hand cannons. However, the introduction of firearms with a mechanism for shooting the weapon was 1543.
There is some documentation to suggest that these ‘western style’ guns may have arrived before this time via pirates and south Chinese traders.
However with the arrival of matchlock guns on Tanegashima island in 1543, the capacity to reproduce and make new guns also arrived.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR EQUIPMENT AND FIREARMS?
All of the guns used are privately owned by the team members, who are also required to hold firearms licenses. Currently our armour and equipment is supplied by Marutake Industries, a film and drama company that specialises in recreating samurai era equipment (www.yoroi.co.jp).
Unfortunately we do not sell any of our equipment and cannot act as brokers/advisors for transactions of any type.
CAN I JOIN THE MATSUMOTO CASTLE GUN CORPS?
The team are not accepting applications or inquiries to join at this time.