Oda clan used guns to great efficency against the Takeda clan but which warlord (or faction) used them for the first time? I seem to recall that some of the sohei order had access to firearms and that is where Oda got the idea to use them en mass but I cannot find the source.

1 Answer 1


Around 1542 (the date is not certain) a Chinese junk was blown onto the shores of the island of Tanegashima off the southern coast of Kyushu. On board were three Portuguese travellers, the first Westerners to land on Japanese soil.

To Lord Tokitada, the daimyo of Tanegashima, the most strking thing about the stranded Westerners were the guns that two of them carried. Having witnessed one of the Portuguese shoot a duck, he arranged for lessons and bought both guns for 2000 taels of gold.

Tokitada employed his swordsmith, Yatsuita Kinbei, to make copies of the weapons, going so far as to trade his seventeen year old daughter for the technology to cut a screw for the breach plug.

Within ten years, the weapons were being manufactured on a much larger scale and began to appear on the battlefield. I don't have a reference for the first time they were used en mass, but two early adopters that have stood out:

  • Takeda Shingen told his commanders:

Hereafter guns will be the most important weapons. Therefore, decrease the number of spears and have the most capable men carry guns.

  • Oda Nobunaga is believed to been the first commander to utilize lines of arquebusiers, where one line fires in a volley while the other lines reload.

If I find a reference with a more specific instance, I will update it here.

  • 2
    @JimThio I think it was the Chinese that first invented gunpower and firearms
    – James
    Jan 16, 2012 at 19:01
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    +1 for being making chinese look good :) Some told me it's the manchu rather than the han chinese that used cannon. So it's the jin rather than the southern song that used it against mongol (and still lost). It puzzles me still. Gun dominates europe. But in Asia, chinese with guns are defeated by jin cavalry.
    – user4951
    Jan 20, 2012 at 2:25
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    I thought the Chinese invented gunpowder but the Western Europeans invented gunpowerder weapons?
    – Stefan
    Oct 5, 2012 at 10:23
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    @Stefan This question was specifically about when guns were used in Japan (during Sengoku-Jidai). Japan's warlords first saw guns carried by dutch sailors who arrived in Usuki Bay in 1600. Oct 6, 2012 at 0:45
  • 1
    Indeed and my reply was specifically to James jan who said that the chinese invented firearms.
    – Stefan
    Oct 6, 2012 at 10:37

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