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I bought this from an antique shop in Japan. Beside the price tag it said it was 120 years old. The shop owner didn't speak much English. All he kept saying was "boat" and kept making a motion like raking leaves. I'm not sure if it would be used to pull boats in, pull fishing nets, or what. It has a spike on one end and two angled prongs with wire lashings on the other end.

Image of tool

enter image description here

  • Would you add the picture that says it is 120 years old? There may be another letters. As a native Japanese. I might be a help to you. – Kentaro Tomono Jan 12 at 16:50
  • @KentaroTomono I have added the picture, though it is in English. I do still appreciate your offer to help! – Osprey259 Jan 13 at 2:02
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    Did you buy this stuff at 120 USD? Anyway, thank you for your addition. This is one of the most difficult questions even to a native Japanese. About 120 years ago, I guess this "boat" was used around Tokyo, where still there were many bushes and grasses surrounding rivers. My personal guess would go for something to rake in some grasses or trees, but please wait. I would like to ask at Japanese "Wisdom!" page. Thank you very much for additional info. – Kentaro Tomono Jan 13 at 2:07
  • Ugh, I received a completely unexpected answer at Yahoo! Japan Wisdom. This stuff would be not a boat hook, nor a fishing gaff. But definitely related with fishermen. I will be making a replay after waiting for another potential replies at Yahoo! Wisdom. Thanks. – Kentaro Tomono Jan 13 at 4:12
  • Solved. I'm making a reply. – Kentaro Tomono Jan 13 at 4:43
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It looks like a fishing gaff. They are hooks which fishermen use to secure fish when they are close to the boat to bring them on board. General gaffs look like big pointy hooks. But they are specialized for all kinds of different types of fishing. This could be an antique squid gaff and the blade part would be called a flying gaff used for killing larger fish before the fisherman brings it on board. Maybe a fresh water eal gaff. Here are some pictures of modern flounder gaffs.

enter image description here enter image description here

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    I googled "fish, Edo, boat" and all came up at Yahoo had 3 sharp hooks. The material the OP is showing looks used for something else. – Kentaro Tomono Jan 12 at 17:02
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To me your item seems structurally more akin to a boat hook then a fishing gaff. The prongs do not appear barbed, and the individual you referenced used the word 'boat' in his description. The image below showing older items from the Alaskan coast has a couple of items which look quite similar in structure: enter image description here

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I asked the same question at Yahoo! Japan Chiebukuro (a Japanese Q&A site).

The answerer replied,

これは昔の釣り竿を置く物
土に挿して使う奴にも見えるんだけど

This would be an old holder for a fishing rod, whose spike is impeded into the soil while fishermen are fishing.

Then I asked him if it had been used on the ground, and he replied,

ただ角度が違うから
船端で水平に出して使う竿立てかもしれんね

after considering the longitude of this stuff, this might also be used as a horizontal holder for a fishing rod, it may be placed in front of a ship instead (so that you can place the fishing rod on the U-type prongs.)

After googling in Japanese "fishing rod, Meiji era, holder", nothing such old came up but a today's holder, which has also the U-type prong.

modern fishing rod holder

I am sorry that I am unable to present an old picture of the fishing rod holder, but I think mine would be probably correct since,

  1. For paddle or hook, U-type prong won't work properly.

  2. For fishing gaff, the U-type prong also doesn't serve as a gaff because it is not sharp enough.

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    I'm not sure if you're using "fishing fag" correctly, but it might be lost in translation... – Andrew T. Jan 13 at 11:13
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    Ah, sorry it was fishing gaff ^^. – Kentaro Tomono Jan 13 at 11:30

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